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Oil majors in both the upstream and downstream sectors of the nation’s economy have been called upon to support the development of the nation’s foremost maritime training institution, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
The Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN), which has just concluded a week-long training of its members at the Academy, made the call during a courtesy call on the Rector of MAN, Oron, Mr. Joshua Okpo.
“Users of the services of the end products of this Academy, including major shipping companies and the oil majors, have the responsibility of ploughing some of their resources back into the institute.
“Some of them can build hostels and it will be nice to see facilities including hostels, libraries and classrooms donated by companies like Shell, Chevron, Mobil, Oando, Nigeria ship owners and so on. They all use the services of ships and the cadets that graduate from the Academy are the ones that sail the ships,” it said.
President of MARAN, Mr. Bolaji Akinola, stated the position of the association, and noted that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has done well for the association, and enjoined other stakeholders to emulate it
“NIMASA has done well for faithfully remitting the statutory five per cent training fund to the academy and for its various interventions in the school, but more resources will be needed to fulfil the School’s aspiration of producing competent manpower for the shipping sector”, he added.
He also called on the federal government to make provision for the acquisition of a training vessel for the academy in the 2014 national budget. “Sea time is critical to the training of seafarers and for obtaining the Certificate of Competency so a training vessel is necessary,” he said.
He hailed Okpo, for transforming MAN, Oron within two years he took over as its rector.
Akinola also called on the federal government to investigate the fate of Nigeria’s last training ship, the MV Trainer.
“The story of the last Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) ship known as MV Abuja is a reflection of the culture of impunity that is destroying Nigeria and its people. The federal government will do well to show that it is serious about tackling corruption in the shipping sector by immediately arresting and prosecuting those who contributed to the under-development of the sector and the demise of both NNSL and the Nigeria Unity Line (NUL) through fraudulent practices using the MV Abuja,” he said.
Giving an insight into the travails of the national shipping carrier, he said after NNSL was grounded by the military government of General Sanni Abacha in September 1995, NUL was named its successor and granted a national carrier status.
“NUL formally commenced operations in July 1996 with Retired Rear Admiral Samuel Atukum named as its Managing Director. In 1979 when Nigeria returned to democratic rule, NNSL had 26 ships, with a combined tonnage of 552,000 deadweight. By 1999, only one of those vessels named MV River Mada remained.
“The ship was later renamed MV Trainer and was converted to a training vessel for Nigerian cadets. In 1996, while the liquidation of NNSL was ongoing, MV Trainer was sold to Mediterranean Shipping Company, a Greek shipping company registered in Cyprus for $785,000. The ship was renamed Axion 11 by its new owners.
“In 1998, the then National Maritime Authority (NMA), repurchased the same ship for $4.5 million from Mediterranean Shipping Company and renamed it MV Abuja. Through that transaction, the country had been swindled to the tune of $3.75 million, and possibly more if you factor in other associated costs. This was the kind of practice that destroyed NNSL and NUL.
“To date, no one has been prosecuted in connection with the scandalous transaction until MV Abuja was eventually sold for next to nothing and NUL predictably packed up,” he said.
According to him, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)and the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force, would do well to open investigation into the monumental fraud surrounding the training ship.