By Edet Okpo
After over four decades of its existence, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, located in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, can now boast of a modern entrance gate that befits its status as a maritime academy with International stake. With this architectural masterpiece, the Rector of the Academy, Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua (retd), keeps proving his administrative mettle and the fact that he came to the academy with clearly defined agenda of transformation and holistic restructuring of the 42-year-old foremost institution of maritime training in the country.
The new gate that is equipped with the latest technology and security sophistications now welcomes visitors with the fresh wind of hope and completely erases from the mind ugly memories of the old gate that has squatted like an anachronism on the face of contemporary time. It’s even more noteworthy that this feat has become a reality with Commodore Effedua as the fifth Rector of the Academy.
Comparatively, with new structures like the brand new gate, accomplished in record time, the Academy now sits as a beautiful house on the hill, giving reasons to those who already may have lost faith in its revival, to rescind their fears and show solidarity to the current Management. In many occasions, hitherto, many stakeholders, Maritime commentators and enthusiasts have had to vent their anger and disapproval over how bad the Academy was fairing in all ramifications. But today, the Commodore Effedua-led Administration has changed the narratives and is speedily regaining confidence of critical stakeholders.
The modernized double-entrance gate has the following complementary components: a reception with top of the range security apparatuses that thoroughly screened visitors; a wall-to-wall monitoring screen and CCTV cameras that instantly communicate information to the next and last security office; etc. It must be mentioned for emphasis that this gate is one of the new structures embarked upon by the Rector in his practical resolve to change the ugly story of the Academy and relaunch it on the world map of maritime institutions of its irk.
With the new digitalized gate, those having no real business inside the Academy but who were wont to poach it are now conscious that their game is up, hence the level of traceable documentation that is now place. It is pertinent to mention that, with the new imposing gate, the Academy can at any time be able to control traffic, know the status and missions of visitors for the quickest informed decision and feedback that will not only boost productivity but also with an appreciable efficiency.
Taking up the mantle as Rector of the Academy on September 6, 2017, Commodore Effedua had stressed in his inaugural speech that he was not in the Academy to dabble into local politics of the Host Community but to redeem the vision of founding fathers and interpret to the best of his ability within the limits of available resources the composite modalities of the Academy aimed at its all-round restructuring and transformation. It thus had taken the Rector less than six months from the assumption of duty to prove that he has arrived. Some of his signature projects include an ultramodern, completely computerized 1000-seat capacity auditorium and a twin survival pool built with finesse and fully completed for use. What many staff and observers who have been in the Academy in the last 20 years perhaps remember most about these structures is the fact that they had been abandoned for 19 silent years of hopelessness.
Within the brief period in review, the Rector has also completed a state-of-the-art library complex, administrative offices, new classroom blocks and lecture theatres; an ICT centre; World- Class full mission Bridge Simulator Which will soon arrive Nigeria after the COVID 19 Holiday and a stadium complex of international standard. Indeed, there has been an infrastructural Renaissance and generous facelift of the entire vicinity. All these were pragmatic steps targeted at revamping the academic destiny f the academy in line with international best practices and rising needs in a Nigerian economy that is dire need of middle manpower for existing challenges and potentials in the Maritime sub-sector.
As a result, the Academy has undergone massive equipping and rejigging of training facilities, overhaul and redesigning of an academic curriculum, and intensive exposure of staff to modern teaching methodologies through capacity building and exposure of Cadets to standard training in respectable affiliate institutions and supportive organizations home and abroad. In addition to these is the record Effedua has set in Corporate Social Responsibility that traverses demographies.
Today, the Academy has become a tourist centre of excellence. Hence, the general incontestable consensus amongst staff, stakeholders and Maritime commentators are that a new dawn has arrived and Commodore Effedua now goes with the sobriquet, Mr. Fix It”. Sadly though, some incorrigible critics and cynics still pretend to be blind or feign ignorance of the overwhelming reality. Recent independent investigations have shown that those who refuse to be excited or support the current sweeping changes in the Academy are the remorseless elements of mischief whose fathers and relations aided the downfall of this institution and were the frontliners in the accumulated misfortune that was the bane of previous administrations of the Academy.
With the new gate in place, coupled with the foregoing, there can be no doubt that Commodore Effedua is a world-class administrator and naval expert who has seen it all and knows exactly what it takes to transform a once dilapidated institution like the Maritime Academy of Nigeria into a cynosure and hub of opportunities.
It is therefore clear that what the Rector, like the Academy, needs now is support and meaningful collaboration that would add more value to the present and future endeavors of the Academy.
Edet Okpo is an Uyo-based Journalist, Public Affairs Analyst and Maritime Commentator