We Are Not At War With SOAN – Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria
….Condemns Media reports; makes clarifications on issues
The Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua (Rtd.), has described as highly unprofessional, biased, mischievous and a facet of irresponsibility the way and the manner the partnership between the Academy and the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has been reported in the media. The Rector who condemned in strong terms the disparaging and exaggerated reports on issues that are well under discreet control by the Management of the Academy and SOAN said the report was mischievously aimed at attacking the integrity and leadership of SOAN.
The Rector who made the clarifications in the Academy during a media chat at the Academy, refuted the damaging insinuations and maintained that such hasty and treacherous report authored without balance and conscience has the potential to cause collateral damage to the existing robust relationship between SOAN and other strategic partners and the Maritime Academy of Nigeria.
It would be recalled that Ships and Ports Magazine and its syndicates had about a week ago carried a report stating that the rector was at war with SOAN over monies meant for training of Cadets on their ships. Commodore Effedua however made authoritative clarifications on the matter.
Giving insights on the genesis of the development, the Rector told journalists who had drawn his attention to the matter : “We had a lot of dreams and we felt SOAN could help; and at the end of the day we approached them. We had an MoU to train our cadets or exposed them to some seatime which would also expose them to some platform lectures. We therefore sat as a group and worked out modalities, but SOAN insisted on paying them for the services. They said they needed to buy fuel, stuck the ship with food, and other administrative charges. I said fine, we are happy. We paid for the four and half months”.
According to the Rector, because no Nigerian ship was configured to take women on board apart from Nigerian Navy ships, they forgot while doing the planning that, although there is no gender disparity in the Academy, they were also girls amongst the Cadets and even the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been shouting they need women on board. The Rector said, to his joy, SOAN came out in good faith but nevertheless insisted that they will not take ladies on board because they could be molested and he personally as a Rector would not love to expose his female Cadets to such risks, ordinarily. Based on that, the girls could not be taken although the Academy had already paid for each and all. Apart from the nine females, there were four other male Cadets who could not be taken aboard due to some technical issues, one of which was non-availability of vessels they were supposed to be on.
In the Rector’s explanations, he subsequently had to write for a refund. “It is not my money. It is government’s money. We have to account for every kobo. If I did not write to SOAN demanding for a refund, somebody can sit down and said I connived with them to embezzle government money. Otherwise, the Chairman, Governing Council of the Academy, would ask; the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi and the Minister for State would ask; the National Assembly would ask; and you journalists would also ask me questions. So, to avoid that, I wrote them a letter in January. Of course, they never said they would not pay, but this was for months back”.
Commodore Effedua disclosed that he and SOAN President were to meet a week ago because the Academy’s plan was that before Easter the left-over 13 Cadets would have been taken on board. “But unfortunately, the pandemic Corona virus struck and practically everything was overtaken by event. I therefore find the Ships and Ports reportage on the issue not quite professional in the sense that there is a story, you know the principal actors, but they didn’t even think it necessary to interact with me even if it was for two minutes for my perspectives on the story; perhaps they would have reported differently. But they took the risk of not talking to me or anybody. For what they call leakage, that too is irresponsibility on the part of those involved”.
The Rector nonetheless maintained that it was for these reasons he chose to talk about the matter for the first time with the press because of the way information was misconstrued and twisted to meet the desires of the reporters. The Rector who said the Academy has been doing business with SOAN over the years and therefore scored them high also remarked.
“Those doing that did so to attack SOAN and its leadership. But they forgot that they have caused collateral damage because there are still many MoUs we want to go into with our partners; many may start becoming afraid of us. But the truth is I don’t have any problem with SOAN leadership. We’ve been doing business with them and I give them a pass mark. If only 13 out of 49 that went is the problem and we know how and why they could not it is not an issue to be misconstrued or tampered with because somebody has to paint the story to suit his objectives. I want to tell the world that we are good partners. We will sought our issues with SOAN”.
Emphatically describing the reports as false, presumptuous and malicious, Effedua said nobody is saying he will not refund the money if the deals could not be consummated. Using the example of Starsz that has refunded already, he said he is looking forward to undertaking greater mutual engagements with strategic partners and stakeholders in the benefit of Cadets of the Academy in days to come.
He therefore cautioned media practitioners in general to always endeavor to do the needful than be in a hurry to load the media space with misleading information.
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