Plans are underway to upgrade the premier maritime training Academy in Nigeria, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron in Akwa Ibom state to university.
The Rector of the Academy, Mr. Joshua Okpo who made this known while speaking with journalists on the sideline of the 2014 National conference and Annual General Meeting of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) in Lagos last Weekend.
Okpo who was represented at the conference by Mrs. Alice Mkpandiok disclosed that the bill to that effect was already on the floor of the National Assembly.
He also noted that some new courses had been introduced in the curricular of the institution in order to provide the students with the best form of training in their chosen career.
According to him,” there is always need for upgrading and you know that not too long, we were given the status of becoming a University, a bill to that effect is already in the National Assembly”.
“Apart from that, there are other new courses that had been developed. There is a course in Meteorology, there is a course on hydrography. Apart from nautical science and engineering, there is also ship and boat building technology which is equally having problem because the students need to be in class for some years and in a ship yard for some other years because you can’t study ship or boat building just in the classroom”.
He revealed that the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar had been of immense help by appealing to organizations like the Nigeria LNG to assist the cadets adding that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had been trying their best to put facilities on ground to enable the students have rounded qualifications.
Speaking on efforts to place the cadets churned out by the Academy on board vessels for their sea time experience, Mr. Okpo hinted that a lot of efforts were on on the part of the academy towards achieving that.
He disclosed that the Academy was using part of the five percent accruing to it from NIMASA annually to place the cadets for sea time experience.
The Rector further said that the Academy had signed some bilateral agreement with the World Maritime University, Malaysia and a Corporation in India to be taking 50 students, 25 from the cadets and another 25 from the engineering every year for training.
“All the papers had already been signed, very soon. As soon as NIMASA gives us a go ahead, they will be going on board”, he said.
He further stated that the Academy had entered into another agreement with the Shipping Corporation of Singapore to be taking some of their cadets adding that some indigenous companies like the Nigeria LNG had agreed to take 15 cadets and 15 engineering students on yearly bases ditto Exxon Mobile which has agreed to give scholarships to the students.
“WISTA Nigeria has been helping some female cadets who excelled so much in academics to grant them scholarships. So, some of them use that for sea time apart from the help from NIMASA and the government”.
“Then very recently also, the Minister of Transport made it mandatory to the shipping companies operating on Nigerian waters, doing business with Nigeria, to take some cadets on board their vessels to be able to do business in Nigeria. So, that is how far the country and organizations had gone to place our students on board vessels”, Okpo said.
On whether there were plans to acquire a training vessel for the Academy, the Rector said, “yes, the Minister has given approval, infact, the contract has been outsourced. So, it is remaining for NIMASA to fund it because the Minister Mandated NIMASA to do it”.
He however dispelled rumours in some quarters that some of the staff of the institution had concluded arrangements to dump the Academy for the newly established Nigeria Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State describing it as untrue.