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By Innocent Orok

Senate President, Ahmed Lawan

The Nigerian Senate has again begins another move to upgrade the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron into a University .
The bid to upgrade the MAN, Oron, Akwa Ibom State to Maritime University has resurfaced at the National Assembly.

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation addressing Newsmen

The bill is titled ” Bill for an Act to Repeal the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron Act and to Establish the University of Maritime Studies, Oron and other Related Matters was presented and lead in debate by Senator Akon Eyakenyi.

Duja Effedua, Rector, MAN Oron

In her presentation, Senator Eyakenyi who represents Eket Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State in the Senate who led the debate said “On this very important Bill which seeks to upgrade the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron to a University of Maritime Studies, Oron. Please recall that the Bill was read for the first time in this hallowed chamber on Thursday, 12th day of December, 2019.

Part of her presentation reads “Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, the Academy is the foremost Maritime Institution in Nigeria and has graduated to date about 5000 Merchant Navy Officers, Ratings and others for both shipboard and shore based operations. It is the only institution in Nigeria with the mandate and requisite capacity/facilities to conduct test and examination of certificate of competency for seafarers. The Academy is recognized both nationally and internationally by regulating authorities.

” The drawback of the Academy is that the Academy was mainly designed to produce technicians or low level personnel which were our need in 1977 but as a developing country we need more than technicians to manage our maritime sector.”

On the upgrading process, the senator said the desire to upgrade the Academy into a degree awarding institution has been long in process; “it is quite unfortunate that Nigeria first mooted the idea of upgrading its maritime institution into degree awarding but others that started later have long executed it by upgrading their Maritime colleges/Polytechnics into Universities/Degree Awarding Institutions, whereas we are still in the contemplation stage.

” In 1995 the then Head of State General Sani Abacha on a visit to the school, emphasised the need to upgrade the Academy into a degree awarding institution.

” In 2008, the then Minister of State for Transport like his predecessor in office harped on the need to upgrade the Academy into a degree awarding institution. His successor in office, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman who secured the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval for the upgrade of the Academy had noted that the primary purpose was to put the graduates of the academy at par with their contemporaries in the world.

“It was in line with the plan to transform the academy into a University that the Federal Government took steps to secure and formalize its funding. The National Assembly, in passing the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act, 2007 made provision for statutory allocation for the funding of the academy. This Bill seeks to maintain the full funding as captured in the NIMASA ACT, 2007.”

The senator further informed the Senate that following the International Maritime Organisation ( IMO) approval for the upgrade of the institution the sum of N2 billion was approved by the Federal Government to the Academy to upgrade its facilities in preparation for the upgrade to University in 2013.

She also said that in 2015, the federal government issued an executive order for the upgrade of the university.
“It is also important to note that, the 8th Senate had passed this same Bill, however, other processes were not concluded for assent of Mr. President before the wind up of the 8th Assembly.”

Senator Eyakenyi said the essence of the Bill is to create a specialize institution for specialize field of studies.
” Nigeria is the economic hub of Africa and needs indigenous and better trained personnel to manage its maritime sector. The upgrade of the Academy into a University would go a long way in solving the acute shortage of well trained manpower in the maritime industry which is quite worrisome.

“In 2018, stakeholders in the maritime sector declared that shortage of manpower in maritime specialties was a threat to maritime sector, this was contained in a communiqué titled “ Urgent Call to Rethink Maritime Education and Training” issued in July, 2018 and published by Punch Newspaper on 19 July, 2018. Year in year out millions of dollars are spent on training our nationals abroad; having University of Maritime studies would put a stop to such wastages of scarce resources.

” In line with our current developmental needs as a country, we need to upgrade the Maritime Academy to University status so as to accommodate more intake of students, more courses of studies and better training .

This University would provide opportunity for Nigerians to learn in a leading maritime institution and stop the wastages of funds being expended in sending Cadets for abroad training.

” Nigeria is amongst countries in the world without functional Maritime University or a University that offers maritime courses; while other countries such as United Kingdom have over 10, USA,10, South Africa, 3, Singapore, 2, Philippines, 14 and Australia 2 amongst others.” She concluded.

It could be recalled that the 8th Senate has passed the upgrading of the academy bill to law into University. But it was not concured by the House of Representatives. Also, it was not agreed if the academy should be a degree awarding or a full fledge Maritime university.

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