For sometime now, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) has come under severe criticisms over its performance rating over the years.
MAN located in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, which was established essentially to provide maritime training, was formerly known as the Nautical College of Nigeria. The Academy was established in 1979 by the Federal Executive Conclusion No. EC. (77) 172. It was designed as an integrated institution for the education and training of shipboard officers and ratings, as well as shore-based management personnel.
The Academy graduated its first batch of cadets in 1983.
In 1988, the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida raised the status of the college via the promulgation of Decree No. 16 of 1988 with a statutory mandate to train all levels and categories of personnel required for the effective and efficient operation of all facets of the Nigerian maritime industry.
The Academy has, at the core of its mission statement, “the provision of qualitative education and training that meet national and international standards and satisfy end-user expectations.”
Unfortunately, however, it has failed in delivering on this mission in the last three decades.
While there are several accomplished seafarers and master mariners who have passed through MAN, Oron in the course of their trainings, most of them had to augment the trainings they received at home with further trainings abroad while those who are unable to afford the cost of travelling abroad for further trainings end up in the labour market, as they are mostly seen as half-baked, thus not attracting any meaningful engagement in the shipping sector.
It is on record that many graduates of the Academy still have to attend the Regional Maritime Academy (now Regional Maritime University) in Ghana or in other respected maritime training institutions in Egypt, India or the United Kingdom before they can be issued with certificates of competency, without which they will not be accorded global recognition as professional mariners.
Owing to the above scenario, a number of stakeholders are of the view that the institution should be closed because it has failed to live up to its billing.
On the other hand, others have said that closing down the school after over 30 years of existence will not mean well for the country since no maritime country, according to them, can develop without an indigenous maritime institution.
We are of the view that MAN should not be closed, rather it should be overhauled by the Federal Government so that it can perform better.
It is, however, instructive to note that the failure of the Academy is the failure of not only its leadership, but failure to nurture by certain interests who wish to see the institution dead and buried, simply to serve their parochial interests.
With purposeful and innovative leadership, MAN, Oron can partner with leading global maritime training institutions to ensure that all noticeable lapses and shortcomings in its operations are corrected.
The Academy will continue to suffer stunted growth if a certain section of the country sees it as its own share of the national cake and continues to claim territoriality over it rather than open it up for development.
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