By Zika Bobby
Rector of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Cdre Duja Effedua, has given an insight into how the school was revived from state of near collapse in 2017 to an institution that now attracts international recognition.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos on the spate of progress made so far , Effedua said the academy under his leadership has been able to make more progress in the last three years than it made in previous 39 years put together.
According to him, about N1.8 billion was saved from the blocking of several avenues of waste and prodigal disbursements within 18 months.
The Rector who disclosed that he has five months more to complete his tenure, said he has surpassed what he set out to achieve through prudent management of scarce resources, prevention of fraudulent activities and blocking avenues where funds were hitherto frittered away.
He said money did not come to the academy outside of it’s conventional funding sources but that he has been able to spend more to improve the living conditions of cadets on campus and enhance the working environment for staff and contract workers.
He said: “The Academy has not received its 2021 grant from NIMASA and this is the fifth month of the year. Yet we are still surviving.
The era of money sharing is over and would never happen again.
“Some of our indigenous staff are involved in the corrupt practices as they own companies through which they siphon money from the academy. All these companies were discovered and blacklisted”.
He said infrastructure has evolved from the former state of multiple abandoned projects, poorly executed jobs and fraudulently approved non existent jobs that were either recorded as completed or almost done on paper with funds released
“The survival pool and nautical building projects were examples of contracts that lingered for over a decade before I came to complete them with befitting adjustments at reasonable costs.”
On manpower development, Effedua said his administration is prioritising training of academic staff in keeping with the vision of attaining and sustaining international recognition for the academy.
He disclosed that the school had a lopsided staff roll that is non compliant with Federal Character principle. According to him , out of 575 employees, 400 were from Akwa Ibom State . Out of the 400 Akwa Ibom indigent workers, 380 were said to be from Oron.
He said a staff audit also exposed some employees who got into the academy with fake credentials and certificates in courses that are not in anyway relevant to maritime training and education, like theatre arts and forestry.
“The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) waded into the fake certificates issues which has caused about 18 persons believed to be affected to abscond from duty.
In addition to the technologically driven teaching and learning system emplaced by Effedua, the rector said the school has the best simulators amongst it’s peers in West Africa.
The rector said Its full mission bridge, full mission engine room and multifunctional classroom simulators are state of the art assets of the academy.
He also confirmed that the school has taken delivery of it’s ocular vision simulator while preparing to receive the helicopter escape underwater equipment soon.
Responding to question on the recent online report alleging money laundering against him by one Jibrin, Effedua said the allegation is non existent and that those running to town with the story were only feasting on nothing.
He added that there are written evidences that the Jibrin who was reported to have pushed out the allegation against him had admitted he pushed out the lies only to extort money.
According to Effedua, the move by Jibrin is one among the many harassments and attempt by faceless persons to draw a battle line with him.
He said over 6,500 petitions were written against him in the last three years and so far more than 50 have been written this year by mostly fictitious characters that are unidentifiable.
“During the Easter holidays, several youths published a fake news on Facebook that the Rector was in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) custody and one even reported that he was dead.”
Effedua said he remains resolute in improving on the academy in the face of distractions and would ensure that these individuals would face legal actions after the Judicial Service Union (JUSUN) strike.
He said some communnity leaders and few local politicians see the academy as their cash cow and therefore feel entitled to better life from the school’s resources.
Their grouse , according to the Rector, is that he denied them access to funding.
“Their struggle is viewed as a case of corruption fighting back in a system where positive change and unprecedented development have come to stay,” he said.
He said the school has consistently enjoyed more international recognition in recent times from international bodies like The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST)
Effedua said The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has donated 200 units of very high quality books, adding that Veritas has also promised to do same soon.