Heads will roll as the interim management committee (IMC) set up by the Federal Government to manage Nigeriaâ€™s oldest maritime training institution, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State begins work.
The IMC which has some key players in the maritime industry as members, including the President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Mr. Greg Ogbeifun is headed by the erstwhile Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi.
Other members are the immediate past Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Captain Adamu Biu; former Rector, MAN, Oron, Mr. Olu Akinsoji; a senior lecturer in MAN, Oron, Dr. Kelvin Okonna; and a Director in the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Danjuma Dauda.
Effective and purposeful leadership eluded the premier training institution for about four years as two of its rectors, Dr. Joshua Okpo and Engr. Anthony Isiodu lost their lives in quick succession in mysterious circumstances.
The Sarumi led IMC was given a mandate by the Federal Government to restructure and arrest the dwindling fortunes of the academy over the years.
The committee had last year completed its initial task but on the submission of its report to Amaechi handed a fresh assignment of executing its findings.
This has sent tongues wagging in several quarters, as stakeholders in the maritime industry had expected a different committee or set of people to implement the report it submitted.
The mandate was announced in Abuja penultimate Wednesday by the Minister of Transportation, Right Hon. Rotimi Amaechi while inaugurating the committee.
THISDAY had reported the setting up of the six-man committee in January this year. Among other functions, the IMC is to advise the Federal Government on the best way to restructure and reposition MAN, Oron for better results.
The mandate given to the committee was sequel to the submission of its report to Amaechi earlier this year.
The decision of the Federal Government is a clear case of reposing confidence in the report submitted by the committee in spite of the hues and cries in certain quarters.
Impeccable sources told THISDAY that as part of its mandate, the IMC has already frozen the accounts of the academy just as some names have been pencilled down for redeployment or outright dismissal from work. Academic and non-academic staff who have irregular employment and pending disciplinary cases in their secret files were said to be top on the list those that will be shown the exit door.
Already, tension and fear of the known have gripped the academic community as no one is certain of the fate that awaits them as the execution of the IMC mandate enters the third week.
Morale among the workforce is said to be very low as a cloud of uncertainty envelopes the academy.
The situation is not helped by the fact that the staff strength of the academy is not only over bloated but also lopsided with those from Oron and Akwa Ibom State having an edge over those from other parts of the country.
THISDAY checks revealed that no fewer than 849 persons are presently the employees of MAN, Oron. A breakdown of the figure showed that while 110 are teaching staff, 739 are non-teaching staff. In the same vein, while 504 are senior employees, 235 are junior employees.
Not a few stakeholders in the maritime industry have wondered what the new Rector of MAN, Oron, Mr. Duja Effedua will be doing in the six months that the IMC is expected to implement its assignment.
They also questioned the absence of a board for the academy since Amaechi took the reins of administration in Dipharima House, the corporate headquarters of the Ministry of Transportation, Abuja more than two years ago.
â€œFor more than two years, MAN, Oron has no substantive Rector. There is no Governing Board and all the Minister of Transportation will do to put a committee in place to oversee the academy. If I will ask you, what will the newly appointed rector be doing in the next six months? He will just be taking salary and allowances for doing nothing! Yet, the President Mohammadu Buhari administration said Nigeria has no money but it is wasting money and other scarce resources everywhere you turn to. It is amazing!â€, a ship owner who preferred anonymity said.