By Innocent Orok
The hope of some Cadets of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN Oron having their seatime with some Nigerian owned vessels might have been dash as the agreement has hit the rock.
It could be recalled that last year the Management of the academy led by its Rector, Commodore Duja Effedua (rtd) had entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) for them to train its cadets under the academy’s four months Students Industrial Training Experience Scheme ( SIWES) in their sea going vessels.
SWiSS is part of the academy’s training programme for National Diploma (ND) students which runs for only four months, before their completion of their ND program, which will allow the cadets goes for their one year mandatory sea time after completion of their ND programme, which allows them proceed for the Higher National Diploma (HND).
After over six months of failure of four SOAN member companies to effect the agreement after the academy has paid them a whopping N37m. It seems the SOAN members have duped the academy as they neither carryout the contract nor refund the money collected.
The Rector of MAN, Oron, Commodore Duja Effedua (rtd), who is unhappy about the development has threatened to involve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) if the ship owners fail to carryout the contract or refund the amount collected.
He disclosed that while some ship owners have made refunds, Oil Flow Services Nigeria Limited, Jevkon Oil and Gas Limited and NKRA Marine Limited have failed to refund monies they collected from the Academy to provide training for cadets on board their vessels on or before April 30th.
MAN Oron explained it entered into the pact with SOAN as part of efforts to secure sea time experience onboard the SOAN vessels for its cadets.
According to a letter written by the Academy dated January 30th, 2020 and addressed to the President of SOAN, MkGeorge Onyung, alleged that the above identified members of the association collected money running into millions of Naira from the Academy for training of cadets for their Student Industrial Training Experience Scheme ,SIWES, programme but failed to engage the students onboard their ships.
The letter which was personally signed by Effedua noted that “13 cadets out of those scheduled for the 2019 SIWES exercise were not deployed and given the required sea exposure because “some SOAN members collected money from the Academy, but failed to provide the service for which they were fully paid”.
The academy warned that it would have no option than to invite the anti-graft agency to step in and recover the money if the affected SOAN member companies do not turn up before the ultimatum.
The letter indicated that the sum of N26,448,000 was paid to the account of Oil Flow Services by the academy for 27 cadets to undergo four months industrial training but the company only expended N4,176,000 on 12 cadets.
The sum of N8,352,000 was also paid to Jefkon Oil and Gas Limited but only N2,784,000 was expended while a total of N2,784,000 was paid to NKRA Marine Limited but only N1,000, 000 was spent.
The letter titled ‘A Post Mortem of the 2019 SIWES Exercise and Request for Refund’ read in part, “The management’s experience was traumatic, as some of your members companies kept requesting cadets to travel to various places to board vessels and these expensive movements yielded nothing. “The Academy absorbed this additional financial burden, despite the fact that the institution paid SOAN administrative charges.
“The management also observed that there is communication gap between the leadership of SOAN and some of its member companies which left some of the cadets stranded severally. It is believed that if proper liaison was done, the Academy would have been able to put its cadets onboard Starzs owned vessels. It is pertinent to note that Starzs has refunded the sum paid to it by the Academy and the management is grateful.
“In view of the above, while recognising the challenges you faced in facilitating this exercise, you are respectfully requested to direct Oil Flow and a few others to refund all monies collected from the academy for services not rendered before the end of April 2020 or the management may be forced to seek the assistance of the anti graft agencies to recover the money from them.”