Stories by Isaac Anumihe and Innocent Orok
All is not well with Nigeria’s only, International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron. With the sudden death of the former rector, Dr. Joshua Okpo, the thinking was that the academic staff and the community would seek a peaceful and friction-free engagement to move the organisation forward.
Regrettably, however the war drums are becoming fiercer even after the former Rector’s death.
Acting Rector, Dr. Anthony Ishiodu came back from hospital to meet the academy in a bitter war than he left it.
Recently, policemen from the Akwa Ibom State Police Headquarters, CID Division invited two principal officers of the Academy to explain their roles in a N4.5 million alleged fraud in a petition by an indigene of its community.
The petitioner alleged that, an amount was paid twice for a job that was not even done. Before the acting Rector was admitted in hospital, over 18 petitions have been written against him in less than two months as acting rector of the institution.
Another burning issue Ishiodu left unsettled before he was hospitalised was the demotion of Dr. Arit Mkpandiok, who until now was the Director, School of Maritime Studies. Arit is the wife of the Registrar of the institution, Mr. Ante Mkpandiok.
Arit Mkpandiok is said to have been in that position for 13 years after being unduly promoted to senior lecturer position, skipping principal and chief lecturer. However, she was later demoted to Senior Lecturer by Ishiodu. This action has pitched the entire Mkpandiok family, the Oron community and other indigenes against the acting rector and all his alleged cabal. The demotion has also stirred up several petitions to discredit the acting rector and to ensure that he is not confirmed as Rector. He is alleged to be incompetent, harsh and incapable of being a Rector. Baskets upon baskets of issues, petitions, allegations and distrust among staff, cadets and the host community brew in the academy now. In fact, most of those who spoke with our correspondent simply said the “Academy is Dead”.
What are the issues? The over 38 years old institution seems overwhelmed by standing issues which have lasted over the years. They have been worsened by management’s inability to address the burning issues. For instance, there was a management resolution over 10years ago for the directorship of the various Departmental Heads to be rotational at least for two years, so to give a sense of belonging, encourage productivity and career progression of other upcoming lecturers. But that was not implemented. As such, some of the directors who have been on certain positions for up to 13 years became thin gods in such departments. They lobbied and earned all contracts and other juicy deals that accrued to their departments. This has over the years created enmity, friction and jealousy among the academic staff of the institution. Today, most Nigerian cadets churnned out from MAN, Oron are often rejected because of incompetence.
Another worrisome trend at the academy is the infighting, insubordination and abuse of office by both staff and management. At the academy, some staff refuse departmental postings. They decide where they want to be, especially those in the accounts, procurement, works and other juicy departments. The staff of the school scramble for contracts as if they are contractors.
More worrisome also is the regimental unit of the school which primary function is security, training and physical fitness of the cadets. Today, the naval officers at regiment unit of the school are redeployed to the refectory as staff. They feed fat on the cadet meals, collecting huge allowances and leaving the cadets to groan.
Another thing trending in the school is that some staff connive with outsiders to concoct petitions against their perceived enemies in the academy.
In fact, as it stands today, the academy is divided into groups of petition writers. According to a former management staff of the institution, if the school must be on the path of development and catch up with World Maritime Institutions around the world, some management staff whom he called “evil men of the academy” must be shown the way out. He said these men are the architects, masterminds and originators of all petitions and infighting in the institution. According to him, these men want everything to be allocated to them including contracts, positions and power. If you refuse them, wait for petition of all kinds, he said.
Some have also accused the host community of being hostile and wanting everything allocated to them not minding that the institution is a federal one of which every Nigerian has equal opportunity. A teaching staff who craves anonymity lamented that the standards of training in the school has fallen drastically as lecturers do not come to work regularly as they are not motivated.
The cadets also complained that their welfare has been mortgaged as the school management is only interested in contracts and infighting.
In view of the foregoing, urgent steps must be taken to rejig the institution in line with the IMO standards, both in conduct and learning. The infrastructure, human and material potentials must be harnessed to salvage the Nigerian foremost and only maritime institution. So, Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, must not fail to sanitise the academy. The time to act is now, stakeholders argued.
Tincan Island port commended for outstanding due diligence
The Nigeria Customs management has commended the Controller, Tincan Island Port, for what it described as “Outstanding Diligence”.
This was contained in a letter to the command, addressed to the Controller, Bashar Yusuf, dated October 20, 2016 and signed by the Deputy Comptroller-General EI&I. The commendation from the Customs management was sequel to the recent handover of a suspected substance from a 1 x 20ft container No. CMAU 0451954/0 belonging to Nigerite Nigeria Limited of Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja.
The said container was was picked because of intelligence attached report on it, which was carefully followed until it was eventually discovered that there were eight black bags in the container that were not manifested.
The controller stressed that the non-manifestation of the said bags fuelled suspicion of foul play, which necessitated the involvement of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for due diligence analysis, investigations and feedback.
Responding to questions on the fate of Nigerite since the company is a beneficiary of fast track, the Controller stated that if a fast track company conceals or unmanifests product, appropriate sanctions would be applied, which include but not limited to removal from fast track opportunity for breach of trust.
Speaking further, the Controller informed the media that there were other products manifested in the said container, called “Virgin Cellulose Tasman” used for the manufacture of cement. He reiterated the statutory responsibility of the Service, including central inspection of cargo, revenue generation and enforcement of Federal Government’s fiscal policy in terms of trade while also insisting that Tincan Command Port has been re-positioned for greater efficiency and functionality in line with the change mantra of the Federal Government and the Comptroller-General He stated that he has put modalities in place for careful examination of all cargoes as well as all declarations using the parameters of acceptable standard, pointing out that all the critical areas have been strengthened to ensure that standards are not compromised as no infractions will be tolerated.
Speaking further on his relationship with other sister agencies, he made it clear that all Federal Government agencies must work together to move Nigeria forward, stating that cases of concealment and/or outright non-declaration of goods should not be contemplated as he will apply punitive measures in such situations to serve as deterrent to others.
On the letter of commendation from the Customs management, he stated that it is a call for more diligence, transparency and application of moral standards in the discharge of official functions, promising to sustain the tempo and even improve on existing standards. He, however, assured compliant importers and their agents of the support of the Service at all times as necessary steps would be taken to ensure facilitation of their legitimate trade.
Scanner failure threatens operations at Seme border
…May affect N1.2bn monthly revenue collection
The failure of the fixed scanner at Seme Border to function at its installed capacity has resulted in slow pace of trading activities at Nigeria’s busiest land frontier with Benin Republic.
Over 80 trucks and other smaller vehicles laden with various goods due for scanning to ascertain their contents are held up in queues at both the Nigerian side and Atlas Park inside Benin Republic, Daily Sun investigation reveals. This development may have slowed down Customs revenue collection efforts as the epileptic state of the scanner resulted in only few consignments being scanned and assessed for the purpose of revenue collection and preventing smuggling through detection of possible concealment.
Most of the trucks in the Atlas Park were not allowed out as the queues might cause a disruption in the flow of vehicular traffic. The situation is further worsened by lack of a parking bay due to slow pace of ongoing construction by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU).
Many trucks had to stay on queues for about six hours while operatives of Nigeria Customs Service deployed to work at the scanning point tried to fix the problem. Some of the truck owners and drivers spoken to decried the situation which they described as regrettable. One of them expressed worry over the state of perishable imports like fish in cooling vans.
‘’I was afraid because the cooling system of my truck may not endure for days and this will affect the state of the fish, we are carrying. Customs did something fast about the scanner and we scaled through. I suggest they resort to the old method of physical examination for more trucks to come into the country.’’
The scanner which was procured by Globalscan Systems Technology Limited and later handed over to Nigeria Customs Service at the expiration of a contract between the service provider and Federal Ministry of Finance has not been meeting up with users expectations. This development will affect revenue collection as only fewer trucks are scanned daily, whereas the machine was expected to scan an average of 200 every day when there is high volume of job.
Investigation reveals that it managed to scan a hundred daily due to the epileptic state of the scanner.
Customs average monthly revenue collection at Seme which is N1.2B according to Taupyen Selchang, Customs Public Relations Officer may not be under threat as feared by users of the border for trade. Selchang said the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the command, Victor Dimka has embarked of several visits to the scanner site with other senior officers with a view to resolving the crises. ‘’My CAC and other management officers of the command are seriously working to resolve the issue. We shall ensure trade is not hampered within the limit of our logistics and manpower.
‘’The CAC spends good time at the scanning site monitoring degree of progress made and ensuring that no importation into Nigeria through our border circumvents the law while hiding under the challenging situation. He also visited the site at the close of work to monitor progress being made so far.’’
‘’We remain resolute in our drive to ensure compliance to rules as they concern imports and exports, not minding the present difficulty. We are also enhancing our preventive strategy against smuggling under any guise,’’ Selchang said.