Maritime Academy of Nigeria: Federal Ministry of Transportation to address funding disbursement issue with NIMASA
The Minister of State for transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, on Thursday disclosed that the Ministry would immediately address whatever challenges that have been affecting the timely disbursement of funds from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron Akwa Ibom.
The minister spoke while on a working tour of the Academy in company of Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, the Chairman House Committee on Maritime Administration, Education and Safety.
Saraki, on completion of the tour of facilities in the Academy and the commissioning of new infrastructure including a marine exhibition hall, an accommodation block and a sports pavilion, said it was important and necessary to ensure the Academy got its funding as at when due, in order to sustain its developmental drive.
She said: “There seems to be a misunderstanding of what and how those funds are supposed to be given to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron. Believe me; very soon you will hear how we are going to do it. I know about the NIMASA Act since I was in the National Assembly.
“It is not about whether NIMASA wants to or how, it is NIMASA’s duty; it is not for NIMASA to oversight it. That is for the Ministry. NIMASA’s own is that they are supposed to give ‘X’ amount to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria quarterly.
“We will look at the system as it is; the way NIMASA is asked to do it is not working; because here we are years later and we are having this discussion. Maritime Academy is not going to go a begging; it is its right. So, we are looking at finding a way of making this ridiculous problem go away. We see that the way it is, it is not working.
“I said there are many things that have not been answered, like the funding, the amount, the remittance; how it is done and when it is done. That whole system, luckily the NASS is even here. When I was in the NASS we had the same problem, now I am in the Executive, we are having the same problem. So, we will sit together, independent of the Maritime Academy and NIMASA to look at what the permanent and final solution is.”
Speaking on the importance of the Academy to be competitive with respect to the standard of training, Saraki said “I am here to see for myself and discuss with all those in the sector who can play a role in bringing about change. So, you see the National Assembly Committee in charge here.
“The whole point of the visit is to see how to improve the school, improve the facilities, and improve the curricular; the professional standard of what the school has to offer to Nigerian students and beyond.
“We believe that truly the depth of the investments that have been done, especially since this current rector has been here is huge. The aim and the goal is that within the African Continent, we want to dominate when it comes to seafarers. Nigeria should be able to provide seafarers to various vessels in Africa, and we want to be the lead to do that. And this is the foremost academy that can do that.
“So, part of what we are looking at is the number of seafarers we currently train, and as you know, during the programme most of them go abroad, so we are looking at how we can maximise our Naira to train as many students as possible.
“Of course, we want to improve, because we are in competition; we have Ghana, we have Togo, Benin Republic all looking within this, and we need to not rest on our laurels and decide on how best we can put ourselves forward in order to do that.”