Monday, April 15Nigeria's Authoritative Maritime News Magazine

Wither Sarumi’s IMC?

Chairman Governing Council, Demola Seriki and Rector MAN. Oron Commodore Duja Effedua

It was long in coming but it came all the same: the complete and dramatic dismantling of the illegal Interim Management Committee set up by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to reposition the much-troubled and maligned Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom state. The 40-year-old institution had been battling decades-old decay in infrastructure, poor funding, staff motivation, and a rejig of the academic curriculum to serve the needs of an institution that aims to train competent seafarers for the maritime industry.

The road to this illegal committee started when Amaechi, upon assumption of office, set up a committee headed by the former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, A are Adebayo Sarumi with a complement of maritime experts. After Sarumi submitted the committee’s findings to the minister, they were asked to go to Oron and oversee the Academy for a period of six months in order to reposition it for maximum excellence. This decision did not go down well with stakeholders, the media and the host community who had for long been asking for an upgrade of the pristine institution. As expected, the media rose up in unison on social media to condemn this impunity, calling on government to dissolve the committee with immediate effect. The youth of Oro Nation took to the streets in protest against the minister’s committee. They accused the government of committing a blunder by instituting a committee while at the same time appointing a substantive Rector for the institution.

The rhetoric was that the committee would only oversee the Academy for six months and allow the Rector to do his work. But this was not to be. Immediately the committee settled to do business in their cozy suites at the Le Meridian Hotel & Resort, Uyo, they froze the accounts of the Academy and incapacitated the Acting Rector from further withdrawals. The committee went further to order the suspension of the candidates which had been admitted by the Joint Admissions & Matriculation Board, JAMB, for the 2017/2018 academic session. Thoroughly flabagasted, the Oro Development Union, in a press statement, called on government to rescind on the IMC and rather focus in how to give the Academy a University status.

In the ensuring confusion, the youth converged at the Academy gate, for several days, even weeks, carrying placards calling on the committee to go home. Apparently piqued by this development, the Sarumi committee continued to run the show 90km away in Uyo, away from the fragile, protest-laden community.

Again, in December 2017, the House Committee on Maritime Administration & Education led by Hon. Bago visited the Academy as part of its oversight functions an called on the IMC to quit the stage while the ovation was loudest. Sarumi’s committee members were conspicuously absent during the visit. They House members said what the Academy needed was a properly constituted Governing Council that would oversee the Academy’s policy framework in accordance with international best practice.

Happily, this prayer has been answered with the constitution of the MAN Oron Governing Council with a former Minister of State for Defence, Demola Seriki, a Lagos politician, as Chairman. What a better way to begin the year by consigning the illegal, money-guzzling IMC to the dustbin of history.