Worried by the spate of abandoned contracts at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, after the contractors had been paid, the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime, Safety, Education, and Administration has declared the Federal Government’s intention to revoke some contracts and recover funds from those contractors who are unable to deliver on their jobs within specified periods.
Projects awarded by the late Rector, Mr. Joshua Okpo, to prepare the institution to assume the status of a degree awarding institution have not only been moving at a snail’s pace, but have also been abandoned, following the sudden demise of the Rector who awarded the contracts.
The committee on a fact-finding mission to the institution on Tuesday disclosed plans to summon all contractor handling projects in the institution to a meeting in Abuja to ascertain the status of every project and possibly issue deadlines or revoke, depending on levels of performances.
Led by its chairman, Mohammed Bago, the committee warned that defaulters would be prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The committee, according to Bago, is committed towards the overall development of the academy. He, therefore, urged management to quicken measures aimed at enhancing development and standards in the Institution, for the good of the country.
He added that the House was ready to work with the Academy towards its development, stating that it is the only maritime training institution in Nigeria, which needed to be jealously guarded.
To allay any fear of witch-hunting, Bago advised management of the institution to see the Committee as partners-in-progress, and assured that before the end of his Committee’s tenure, all the projects in the Academy would have been completed. He revealed that the committee will not approve any new projects in the Academy till all the existing ones have been executed.
He said: “All the contractors working in the academy will be summoned for a meeting in Abuja. The contractors who do not deliver their jobs within the stipulated time frame will have their contracts revoked and the funds recovered.
“Defaulters will be prosecuted by the appropriate government body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which is saddled with that responsibility.
“You have to see us as partners in progress, we have to strengthen our institutions so that this country will move forward, we will make sure this institution is accorded its deserving status.
“From what we have seen during the facility tour, we have resolved that we will not approve any new project until the ones we have on ground are completed and by the grace of God before the end of my committee’s tenure all the projects will be completed.”
He however expressed worry over the poor utilisation of the Academy’s products (the cadets) and, therefore, called for suggestive measures to tackle the embarrassing situation.
He asked the management of the institution to forward a formal request to the National Assembly for deliberation.
House member representing Ikot Abasi/Mkpat Enin/Eastern Obolo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Francis Uduyok, said that the Academy being one of the oldest maritime training institutions in West Africa, deserves to be upgraded to a university. He urged management of the Academy to generate a constructive and well-articulated proposal on the issue for presentation to the committee.
“We as a committee will work with you to ensure that this institution is accorded a deserving status. I believe this institution is one of the oldest of its kind in West Africa and so there is nothing wrong with it becoming a university. So, your articulation in the proposal must be well constructed in order for us to move this institution forward,” he stressed.
Registrar of the academy, Mr. Mkpandiok Mkpandiok, told the committee that the academy, despite its constraints, has over the years been able to produce competent personnel operating in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond as well as those marine personnel who drive the oil and gas sector.
He stated that the Committee’s visit was the beginning of better things for the academy and called on the committee to upgrade the Academy to the enviable status deserving of an institution of 40 years standing.
“The academy has delivered on its mandate of training competent personnel for the maritime and allied industries. We have trained master mariners, marine engineers, maritime administrators and other professionals.
“Development being a gradual process we still have many challenges to surmount to be counted among the comity of maritime academies of the world. But we trust we can get there with your support,” he said.