As retired Navy Commodore Emmanuel Effedua clocks the second year mark as Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, a muted and quizzy atmosphere characterised the institution as the jury came out on how he has fared in steering its affairs.
Although some industry watchers saw his appointment as that of a square peg in a square hole, there was a very vocal minority who insisted he lacked the cognate experience for the job.
The appointment of Effedua followed the sacking of a former Registrar and acting Rector of the institution, Mr. Mkpandiok A. Mkpandiok by Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation. The emergence of Effedua coincided with the appointment of a Management Committee headed by erstwhile Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Aare Adebayo Sarumi, which kept industry stakeholders worried over how the new Rector could work side by side with these strange bed fellows.
Since the vacant position of Rector was never advertised occasioned by the sudden death of two Rectors in quick succession, industry watchers were kept guessing as to what may have informed his choice. Other than the fact that he was a former naval officer and that during his service years in Port Harcourt, Rivers State his path and that of Rotimi Amaechi who was then Governor of Rivers state crossed, there is nothing in his biodata to suggest that he was the most suitable man for the job. This kept industry stakeholders wondering why the Sarumi investigative panel into the activities of the Academy was not given an additional responsibility from the he onset to shop for a more qualified and competent hand to run this 40years old institution.
But having gotten a presidential nod to appoint a suitable choice , Mr. Amaechi was saved the rigours of having to go through the conventional norm of advertising and conducting interviews for prospective applicants.
About two years on the saddle as the first ex-naval officer to preside at the apex maritime institution, Effedua had hit the ground running, armed with the recommendations of the Sarumi panel which to many remained shrouded in secrecy. Many had expected, for instance, that his first major assignment would be to advertise for the vacant positions of Registrar, Bursar and Director of Works for the Academy .This would have given him the opportunity to hire the best hands to run the Academy on a more professional level in line with best practices in similar maritime institutions within and outside the African continent. But a source at the Academy indeed confirmed that over a year ago, the positions were indeed advertised but invitations for interviews were not sent out despite the dozens of applications that were received.
Agreed that MAN, Oron is a regimented institution, staff and students have accused the Rector of high handedness. “At management meetings which are no longer routine but held at his discretion, his words are law as he seldom tolerated divergent opinions on issues. He runs the Academy like a military garrison commander. You dare not challenge him when his mind is made up on an issue. But one thing you cannot take away from him is his passion for the Academy”, said a usually dependable source at the Academy.
“Our Rector has a great dream and vision for the Academy but one thing he must realize is that he needs to carry all and sundry along, this is not a military cantonment”, the source further added. Effedua receives unprecedented backing from his boss, Rotimi Amaechi and the Academy’s major financier, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). The NIMASA Act makes it mandatory for the apex maritime regulatory authority to remit five percent of its earnings to MAN, Oron. So far NIMASA under the Dakuku Peterside administration has kept religiously to this clause. Besides, the Academy also gets a steady intervention from the Presidency for capital projects while salaries and wages of staff are borne by the Federal Civil Service Commission. The institution is also allowed to keep its IGR for its day to day running of the Academy.
Available information has it that a staggering N18 billion may have been made available to the Academy since September 2017 when Effedua took over the mantle of leadership. His critics are however quick to lambast the retired naval officer, saying he has added nothing new to what he met on ground. “What we have seen so far is a man who has been intimidating staff and students. He should point to us his so called ‘pet projects.’ What we see daily is the painting and repainting of projects started by his predecessors in office. We challenge him to point to any project he initiated and completed. We have noticed in some instances that he had even pulled down structures built by his predecessors all in the name of remodeling”, the visibility agreed stakeholder said.
He continued: “Now, he has run the institution aground with his profligacy and with nothing to show for it and after reducing student intake by about 50 per cent. Now he wants NIMASA to release his allocation for third quarter 2019 upfront. Maybe he should go take a second look at the NIMASA Act. Does he want the EFCC to go after Dakuku Peterside? Effedua should account for the monies he has collected so far”, he concluded.
Ironically, Dakuku Peterside has on many public fora commended the leadership potentials of Effedua. He sees the Rector as a man who has come to change the narrative at MAN, Oron. Effedua’s first move on assumption of duty was to identify the weak structures and poor dynamics and to address flaws identified in the institution’s curricula which prompted him to contract a Ghanaian expert to reset the academic framework. He has also looked at critical academic deficits and hired new hands to address this deficit. Critical teaching components such as simulators, workshop and laboratory equipment ,the ICT centre are all receiving his attention. Classrooms are no longer over crowded as it used to be in the past. Similarly, cadet hostels have been remodeled to conform to best standards to promote health and wellbeing of students.