Although the dust over issue of more maritime academies for the country is yet to settle, the Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Mr. Nsenyen Ebong has declared that he and the Oron Akwa Ibom-based institution has nothing against the emergence of another government-owned maritime academy.
Ebong told Shipping Position Weekly recently in Oron that while not disputing the fact that with a population of 140 Million people, Nigeria may need more academies, it was only expected that government would take the pain to fund and equip the existing academy.
He acknowledged the fact that some sections of Nigerians have been lobbying for a rival academy, but added that this should be done devoid of parochialism and government should be adequately prepared for it.
Ebong who was publicly opening up on the issue for the first time told Shipping Position Weekly “to be very candid with you, I support the establishment of more and subsequent academies. Come to think of it, by the last census, we had a population of 140 Million Nigerians, so I really believe that more academies could serve the needs”, he stressed.
According to the rector who joined the Oron academy about 25 years ago, government must plan very well for it and be ready to fund adding that “the funding, the policy and the thinking must be right, let’s not bring parochial sentiment into this thing because this is what has plagued this country in the past for too long. Let’s face facts and do things right the way that it is supposed to be done”.
There were plans in 2007 to open a second Maritime Academy of Nigeria, in Badagry, Lagos state, but the project has been largely abandoned while the institution’s temporary site has been overgrown with weeds, a development which gave credence to insinuations that the Badagry academy was a political carrot that was meant to sway votes in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party which at that time was desperate to win Lagos state. Not too long ago, feelers also came form the National Assembly to the effect that lobbyists had penetrated the legislature with plans to sway the lawmakers to support the move to break the almost 30 year old monopoly that the maritime academy at Oron enjoy. Ebong who likened the move to the case of a man who has neglected his roles as a husband and desires to marry more wives said that government ought to have been properly funding Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron before thinking of a second or third academy.
“It is like a man who has one wife, he can not cater for the needs of one wife and he is going to marry a second and third one. You are quarrelling with the first one every morning; the woman is saying you are not giving her enough house keeping allowance, that the man is not providing enough for her but he expects her to be producing children, the same man now goes out and brings in another wife and as the first and second wife begins to complain, he says “let me tell the two of you, I am bringing in a third wife if you don’t take time”.
(Please see pages 6 and 7 for the full interview)