Maritime Academy denies rift with ship-owners, lauds sea time engagement

The Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) has revealed that some ship-owners like Starzs Investment Company and others have already refunded money paid into their accounts over the inability to provide sea time exposure to cadets of the Academy.

This is even as the Academy added that there is no rift between it and ship-owners under the aegis of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), stating that the Academy is looking forward to more productive engagement with the ship-owners group.

Addressing newsmen recently in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Rector of the Academy, Commodore Duja Effedua, stated that the engagement with SOAN is over 90 per cent successful.

According to the MAN Rector, “The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Maritime Academy and SOAN was conceived towards ensuring that cadets of the Academy get sea exposure which is critical to their learning development.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t realise that some of the female cadets won’t be able to go onboard due to technical issues. Some cadets who went for surgical operation also couldn’t go onboard, so there was a need to refund payments made for the sea time training of those cadets, and that was why we wrote to SOAN in January 2020.

“The money is not mine. We are talking about government money. If I didn’t write SOAN for a refund of money paid, somebody might sit down somewhere and say that I connived with ship-owners to embezzle government money. If I didn’t write for a refund, the Minister of Transportation and Minister of State for Transportation will ask me what happened to such funds. Even our Governing Board Council Chairman will ask me about it. So because of accountability, I needed to write SOAN in January for a refund since not all the cadets earmarked for sea-time exposure got trained. In my letter, I told SOAN that I will involve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) if I don’t get a refund. That letter was written in January, four months ago.

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“As I speak, some of the ship-owners who couldn’t take cadets onboard for sea-time exposure have already refunded. Starzs Investment Company and some others have refunded. I believe others too will refund because SOAN has not said it will not refund the Academy.

“If not for the Coronavirus pandemic, we were supposed to have met with SOAN over this issue last week.

“If only 13 cadets out of 49 didn’t make sea-time exposure, I wouldn’t say the MoU is a failure. The 13 that didn’t make it will eventually go onboard for sea-exposure.

“The people that leaked the letter had an ill motive in their mind because in attacking SOAN, they ended up denting the image of the Academy because we are party to that MoU. They ended up portraying the Academy as bad business partners to other corporate organisations, which is not so.

“There are many MoU’s we wish to go into in future, and with the way the letter was leaked, other corporate organisations might start getting scared of partnering us at the Academy.

“We are not at war with SOAN. We don’t have issues with SOAN. Next year, we will still enter into another MoU with SOAN because we don’t have issues with them.”

It would be recalled that towards the tail-end of 2019, the Maritime Academy and SOAN entered into an agreement to allow cadets of the Academy get sea-time exposure on board vessels belonging to members of the ship-owners group.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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