As the fight over legality and illegality of private Maritime academies rages, the Rector, Stars Maritime Academy (SMA), Dr. Reuben Ovai, has countered the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) that his academy is not recognised.
Ovai said that in spite of the name of the school being conspicuously missing in a recent list of the approved maritime academies in the country released by NIMASA, the school was not an illegal maritime academy as claimed by the agency.
Speaking with reporters at the school premises in Ogun State last week in response to allegations leveled against some private maritime schools in Nigeria as illegitimate, recently by NIMASA, he said though a few of the schools may be operating illegally, Stars Maritime Academy was duly registered and accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the Federal Ministry of Education.
Ovai stated that Stars Maritime Academy was the first private maritime school to be registered and approved by the NBTE and the Federal Ministry of Education which also approved Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
He said the licence to operate as an academy was issued by the former minister of education, Professor Rukkayat Rufai, as well as the Executive Secretary of NBTE in 2003.
He also stated that the course curriculum used by the school was developed and handed over to them by NBTE, which is the authorised body that approves Polytechnics and Monotechnics in Nigeria.
“Stars Maritime Academy is also included in the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) list, which is the recognised body in the country for admission into tertiary institutions. Presently the school runs the following courses: shipping management, nautical sciences and marine engineering. The school is also an employer of labour,” Ovai stated.
He insisted that NIMASA was not an academic-accrediting body in Nigeria educational system, but a regulator in the practising of maritime profession.
The Rector said Nigeria needed more than one maritime academy as Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron alone would not satisfy the yearnings of maritime education in the country in the area of human capacity development for the nation.
He noted that MAN, Oron came into existence over 30 years ago when Nigeria’s population was less than 100 million, but today the population is over 180 million people.