Story By Izuchukwu Ozoemena
Contrary to expectations that with the recent constitution of the Governing Board of the Maritime Academy, Oron, the Interim Management Committee (IMC) set up by Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, stands dissolved, the committee is continuing with its activities.
The earlier resolution of the House of Representatives declaring the IMC illegal had also fueled the expectation.
However, a member of the six-man committee, Greg Ogbeifun, told Business and Maritime West Africa there is no basis for such expectation. “It (the news) is far from the truth. The Committee is solidly on ground, continuing with our work”, Ogbeifun said. The committee is headed by a former managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi.
Investigations showed that from Monday, 18 December to Friday, 22 December when the committee members departed on break, the technical consultants sent from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) were with them and NIMASA personnel in Oron and Uyo in continuation of efforts to fashion out the best way to achieve the reform programme the federal government is working out for the maritime training institution.
The IMO involvement, it was learnt, is to get necessary inputs from the apex international maritime governing body so as to ensure that whatever reforms eventually put in place by the IMC enjoy the confidence of global maritime standard stipulations and international best practices.
The committee which later reconvened in Abuja from 27th to 30th December 2017 has resumed activities in Oron since the first week of January 2018. Offering a view on what he referred to as a mere threat, Ogbeifun disclosed that “the legislators are not happy with our presence as they are not able to plunder the Academy’s funds as they are used to doing. The President has directed that we ignore them and continue with our work.”
Also speaking on the issue, president of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Capt Alao, said that National Assembly does not have the powers to disband the committee as a ministerial committee is within the powers of delegation of that office. “The amendment to the Act establishing the Academy has to go through the National Assembly first (before any parliamentary committee can contemplate taking such a move as is being reported). Even at that, a subsidiary legislation by the Minister will cover the IMC until the National Assembly procedure is undertaken.”
He emphasised that the House was ill-advised and would be acting in ignorance if they ever attempt to tamper with the activities of the IMC at MAN, Oron. Justifying government’s wisdom in empaneling the interim management committee, Alao explained that the school established over three decades ago still needs to be looked into and overhauled.
It is recalled that when the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, led by Mohammed Bago visited MAN, Oron on December 13, 2017, it described as illegal the IMC set up by the Federal Government to join hands with the new Rector, Comdr. Duja Effedua (rtd), to develop modalities for the restructuring and repositioning of the Academy.
In his remarks during the oversight visit, Bago had stated that the IMC is illegal. “There is nothing like Interim Management Committee as far as management of the Academy is concerned. It is illegal. It is not constitutional. The Rector has the capacity to drive the Academy”, he had stated.
Since then, there have been reports that the House of Reps have disbanded the IMC.