The Rector of Stars Maritime Academy, Dr Ovai Reuben, has threatened legal action against anyone or organisation that henceforth labels private maritime academies as illegal.
“Henceforth, we will not hesitate to take legal action against any person, organisations or associations that embark on such pull- down syndrome.”
Ovai made this threat known while condemning in totality, a statement by the President of the National Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), Ade Olopoenia, that private maritime academies in Nigeria are illegal without an accreditation by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA).
Briefing newsmen in Lagos, Ovai said NIMASA was not an academic accrediting body in Nigeria educational system, but a regulator in the practice of maritime profession, hence maritime academies do not need accreditation by it.
Describing Olopoenia’s statement as ill-informed and ignorant, Ovai said it was surprising that such was coming from a respected stakeholder in the maritime industry, who did not cross check for facts before making his opinion public.
While showing reporters the act establishing NIMASA, the rector said, “this is an act that established NIMASA, is there anywhere that it is written that NIMASA must accredit maritime academies?” he asked.
He explained that the NIMASA Act did not empower the agency to accredit maritime academies.
Ovai continued, “So how on earth are they calling for the accreditation of maritime academies by NIMASA.”
The rector said the master mariner president was trying to give NIMASA a responsibility it was not given by the government.
“Why are they putting a responsibility that is not NIMASA’s on its head? If NIMASA accredits and you get a diploma, can you use that to access direct entry into the university?”
Ovai said he could not understand Olopoenia’s decision to run down private academies that are thriving to bridge capacity gaps in the country’s maritime industry, knowing well that Olopoenia’s nephew, Adebayo Musa, studied and graduated from his academy.
He warned that public figures should be mindful of their statements in order not to send misleading information.
“We should be mindful of what we say as public figures. The FG is not foolish to have set up the Federal Ministry of Education (FMOE).
“We all know that the FMOE is an arm of the UN, so any academy they approve means the same school is recognised by the United Nations (UN) educational arm, which is the world body and the International Maritime Organisation is under it.”
He, however, disclosed that NIMASA is responsible for working with the IMO if the name of any private academy is to be recognised by the IMO.
“NIMASA is supposed to compile the list of all approved maritime institutions in Nigeria and forward to the IMO and not individual maritime institutions submitting names to the world maritime body,” he said.
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