– As Staff Narrates their Frustrations
By Innocent Orok
When in September 2017, the Federal Ministry of Transportation, through the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi inaugurated the Interim Management Committee (IMC) to set a new strides for repositioning and transformation of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron in Akwa Ibom State, there were mixed reactions, protests and condemnations. Maritime stakeholders then argued that a substantive rector should have been appointed to head the academy. But the Minister in his believed said the six months tenure of the IMC was to set the ball rolling for the total transformation and repositioning of the Nigeria’s foremost maritime institution.
Comdr. Duja Emmanuel Effedua (rtd) was appointed alongside the IMC members to understudy the team of which after their tenure, he will assumed fully as the substantive rector. Though, the IMC Transformation and Repositioning draft for the Academy was not made known to the public after their six months tenure, Effedua however resumed office as substantive rector in 2018. The reforms and transformation he was to carry out in the Academy from the IMC handover was only known to him and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Before Effedua took over, there was tension and rumour of massive sack of staff, deployments, tribal favours and alleged sack of staff from a certain region, which according them dominated the institution’s nominal roll, that according the staff then were assumed to be part of the repositioning and reforms proposed by the IMC.
EFFEDUA’S FIRST ONSLAUGHT ON ACADEMY’S STAFF
immediately he took over, there was redeployments and massive transfers of staff across the academy’s offices in Nigeria. We then gathered that the Federal Character Commission has demanded for the Nominal roll of the institution to justify or correct the alleged employment imbalance in the school.
It was learnt that the rector has instructed the personnel department to collate the nominal roll and other needed documents and submit it to him. Surprisingly, as the staff of the personnel department , who were newly redeployed to that unit were gathering the documents, they were suddenly rounded up by the rector and some Naval men in their office. While, the rector ordered the Police to arrest them on trumped up allegations of falsification of documents and allegedly working for the suspended registrar, Ante Mkpandiok at that time. A total of six staff, including the Director of Personnel were arrested and taken to the Oron police station. The police later charged the staff to an Oron, Magistrate Court from the directive of the rector.
The Staff on their part and to exercise their foundermental humans right also instituted their case against the rector at a High Court in Uyo over their illegal arrest. The Uyo high court has since ruled in favour of the staff, which includes Compensation and apology from the Rector and the Academy. The rector, however moved the case to Appeal Court in Calabar, there it has been for more than a year now, without being assigned or mentioned for hearing.
As at today there are several cases pending in different Courts, while more staff are on the moves to file theirs.
The cases are mostly between aggrieved Staff and the rector based on alleged several injustices ranging from intimidation, illegal termination of appointments and human right abuses. This is the current situation at Nigeria’s only IMO recognized maritime training institution.
ALLEGED CORRUPTION, BICKERING AND LIES FROM MAN, ORON
The Rector of the Academy ,Emmanuel Effedua has in several media chats alleged that most of the turbulents engulfing the institution now is linked to corruption fighting back and that he has sealed all revenue leakages hitherto now being used to swindle the the academy and that is why he is performing. But a source from the academy challenged ” Journalist, what is corruption fighting back?. We are talking about the rector fighting and intimidating staff, some whom he has sacked on false allegations of fake certificates and NYSC. As am taking to you ,please be a true journalist investigate, over 10 sacked staff by the rector are in courts challenging their illegal termination of appointments. If they have fake certificates or NYSC, will they go to courts? I want to asked you, are staff contractors, so how does the issue of corruption fighting back comes in with staff?. Do staff control the purse of the academy? Rather, the rector should answer the various allegations of fraud and mismanagement of funds levelled against him, like the Jibrin Adamu’s case which is in the media. Am told the EFCC is on it too and the matter also in court.
“We can indict the rector on the following staff issues: Imoh Ukut, Sani Usman, Uduak Simon, Dr Oloyede Rasak, Jibrin Adamu, Damud Duncan who were wrongly sacked and not based on fake certificates. Some funds were budgeted for staff workshops and trainings, but end up in private pockets. Have you seen were a single staff could get over 50 workshop and training certificates in a year without attending anyone and the money runs into billions of Naira. I want you journalists to investigate this and not only what the rector tells you.
The Rector has also employed over 150 young graduates as contract staff , they are not captured by the IPPIS. He has tried on several occasions to maneuverer their names into IPPIS payroll in Abuja, but was difficult for him. He has been paying them from NIMASA’s 5% yearly accrued revenue given to the Academy for the purpose of capital projects, staff welfare and training, cadets welfare and for training equipment. We have IGR, MOWCA fund and the NIMASA fund totalling about N10billion annually. And what about MOWCA funds given by the maritime organisation of West Africa for training the trainers, has he been using it for that purpose? How many lecturers has he train apart from the contract staff he employed since he came in 2017.? How many permanent staff has he train?, He uses the NIMASA and MOWCA funds for his frivolous contract and the structures the academy don’t need, like the four gates he remodel , billions of naira was wasted.
“The major capital projects he meet and completed are the Nautical building, Cadets hostel and Swimming pool. Others he meet and remodel are Library, Auditorium, Staff quarters at phase 1&3, some of the road networks , Jetty, administrative and other office blocks. Others are cadets refectory , clinic remodel and class rooms and short courses accommodation. The new capital project he embarked on are two story staff quarters which is 30% completed, Staff mess 60% completed and the stadium completed”.
WHY EFFEDUA IS AT WAR WITH ACADEMY’S STAFF
According to our source on why the rector is fighting some of the staff, a cross section of the staff who spoke with our reporter alleged that the rector is at loggerheads with most of the Academy’s staff because he applied intimidation and threats to forced staff to do his bidding without recourse to Civil Service rules and some staff were recently sacked with false claims of fake certificates , which is not true. Some of those staff have even appeal to the Minister to look into their case , but up till now no headway. Some have even use their senators to appeal to the rector to either reinstate them or pay them their entitlements, but the rector has refused.
Again our source said, ” Up till now we have not received our November 2020 salary. In 2018 we received our December salary in July 2019 and is repeating itself again this year, but the Academy money from NIMASA and other sources are being lavish and you want the staff to be happy,? He also refused to attend to staff claims he meet on ground, that it wasn’t him and that he will not pay, promotion arrears of 2016 , arrears of new minimum wage. No staff promotion since he became Rector, he sideline permanent staff, some he replace them with contract staff. He has destroyed staff to staff relationship in the academy. No trust in the academy as every one is been monitored by either CCTV cameras , or been recorded to know what staff say about him, and if indicted you will be query or taken away from your professional duty post for committing a little mistake. School library is always used to dump staff like that as he did to Jubrin.
” Also, the academy has no management staff since he came in 2017, any one can be made a Director so long you are ready to do his biding. There is no seniority in allocation of social amenities, like staff quarters. Level 8 officers are occupying Directorate quarter, simply because he works with the Rector or Rector brought him.
Almost all the contract staff are given a befitting residential accommodation well equipped with maximum comforts. In fact, he choose whom to give what.
“Like the issue of Laptop, every lecturer and senior staff handling schedules deserve to be given a Laptop. How do you expect a lecturer to give lectures online when all the cadets were given laptop and most lecturers don’t have.
So many staff have died in active service simply because when they are sick no management give them helping hand medically and even when the rector is inform of any sicked staff, he will shun the report or tell them to go to their National Health Insurance and as you know, there is a little heath insurance can cover for public servants. He was sent to the academy for restructuring of the system, but the reverse is the case.
“Him and the governing council led by a three time Minister of the Federal republic refused to pursue condition of service for academy’s staff. They are only after their self end of sharing what is accrued to the Academy from NIMASA federal allocation and from other organisations like MOWCA. He should account for that training money and when ever a lecturer wrote for the need or ask questions on training within and abroad he feel indicted . Most times he queries the person or redeployed to another department not minding that the staff concerned is a professional in that department.
“He act with impunity since the minister is shelving his unjustified activities in the academy. I could still remember one of the minister’s trip to the academy on inspection of facilities, he made mentioned in his speech that the academy is more or less a military place in nature and that anyone who mess up, the rector should send parking to his home, not minding Civil Service rules set by government. And since a lot of staff , academic and non -academics have been frustrated out of the system, the academy have lost qualified manpower in the hand of the Rector. However, he is not a professional in maritime field nor an academician so there is no direction. what he and the council members are after, is the patrimonies of academy” the source lamented.
On the alleged employment of contract staff, the source said “This Rector has no waver from concerned agency to employ fresh graduates , neither was the employment advertised either on contract or permanent. Even if the minister permits him to employ retired Master Mariners, definitely not fresh graduates that have no experience, paying some higher and above the approved salary scale of the Federal government and that of Salary and Wages Commission. There are so many illegalities happening in the academy. We have no union to speak for the generality of staff. This is a special school in Nigeria and why should we be subjected to these ridiculous treatment for years, this is not a Naval school which Effedua have turn us to.
” For almost four years now NBTC couple with NIMASA Audit report indict academy of not compliance to standard and that is why most of our courses are not accredited like our HND programmes are not recognised even Ghana maritime Academy confirmed why our HND are not recognised. How come our December 2020 salary was paid and no November salary up till now. Since the rector came, most staff welfare packages he met on ground, he stopped them, like Christmas, Sallah , Easter and other packages, he stopped them saying government had not given him money to do that, but the mother ministry is doing better and he has refused to create any welfare packages till date. This is our predicaments for nearly four years now” the source said.
The way forward, ” We urged EFCC and other relevant agencies to expedite action in bringing people who are involved in the laundering of monies that have passed through individual accounts in the academy and still on going in other ways and manners to be brought to book. Especially now that NIMASA just released some funds to the Academy, ” the source urged.