From Joe Effiong, Uyo
The 38-year old premier maritime institution in the country, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, is doing what it has not been doing before; looking inward to empower the locals in its host communities.
One of such programmes was the recent skill acquisition exercise arranged by the academy for the women of Ukpata/ Afaha Eduok in Idua Community, one of the host communities of the academy. The event was held at Government Primary School, Ukpata/Afaha Eduok.
The one-day programme was described by the people as unique and a huge success based on the quantum of commendations it received even from some hitherto indifferent members of the host communities.
The youth leader of the community, Mr Victor Okon Bassey who spoke on behalf of the youths, acknowledged the efforts of the current management in touching the lives of members of the host community, despite the challenges faced by the institution.
Victor Bassey said the youths of the community passed a vote of confidence on the management of the academy because the acting rector, Mr Mkpandiok Mkpandiok had demonstrated devotion, diligence, commitment, capability and a superlative wealth of experience in piloting the affairs of the institution, not just in the area of corporate social responsibility but also in other spheres of his administration.
He said with the drive towards academic excellence, and judging from the serenity the academic environment now wears, it was proper to encourage Mr Mkpandiok in his vision to actualize the institution’s mandate, in line with the dreams of the academy’s founding fathers.
The youth leader said Mkpandiok had the capacity to interpret the restructuring and repositioning agenda of the Federal Government, believing that he would use his wealth of experience and exposure in the maritime industry and in particular the academy community judiciously.
The 48 participants at the workshop, Bassey said, were selected from different families from both clans of Ukpata /Afaha Eduok villages for the one-day training. He called for the cooperation of socio-political groups and associations, urging them to identify with the new administration in their desire to actualize the vision and aspirations of the federal government.
The village head and former councillor representing Idua Ward Four in Oron Local Government Council, Chief E. E. Okon said the programme, which was the first in the history of the community, was highly appreciated and would bring a new lease of life to his community at large, and most importantly to the beneficiaries.
Okon said the programme would go a long way in not just reducing the poverty level in the community but also in curbing restiveness and other social vices associated with youth idleness, thereby providing a safe and conducive learning space for cadets and students.
He noted that when he first heard the news, his joy knew no bounds, adding that the programme meant a lot to the lives of his people.
He observed that the academy’s management had demonstrated the popular philosophy of ‘Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for the rest of his lives, rather than just giving fish all the time. He also used the opportunity to appeal to the management to kindly empower the women who were now skilled with kick-off support. This, he said, would ensure that the programme achieved the set goals of uplifting the people.
Woman Leader of the Community, Mrs. Ekaette Bassey, who spoke on behalf of the women, thanked the management of the academy for remembering them, noting that the skills acquisition was the best thing that had happened to them.
Mrs Bassey expressed her optimism that the women would make good use of the acquired skills. She called on the management of the academy, the local government authority and well-spirited individuals to complement the efforts of the academy by empowering the women to start off on a large scale.
Earlier, the head of corporate affairs department of the academy, Mr Sidi Mkpandiok, expressed delight at the turnout and the success the event recorded, even as he commended the pivotal role played by the women in the development of the society.
He urged the women, who were trained in the preparation of meat pie, chips, chin-chin, egg roll, buns, pancake as well as in soda, toilet and liquid soaps making, to put to practice the skills they learned.