Considering the cost and its componential sophistication in modern times, when the Rector of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Commodore Duja Effedua (Rtd.), in one of his earliest projections on assumption of duty said by way of promise that he will make sure the Academy for the first time has latest full mission Bridge simulator, not many individuals in the Maritime Industry who knew the situation back then in the academy and had lost faith in its possible revival believed him.
Again, when a few months later, a crack team of internationally acclaimed marine experts from India arrived the academy on May 10, 2019 on feasibility studies, it was still hard for many to believe such a possibility. We don’t have to blame them. Their response was rooted in the sad story of the past and perhaps made worse by man’s inherent indifference or opposition to positive change. The three-man team of experts from India was made of Capt. Gauran Chagra, Mr. Manish Pundir and Mr. Ese Marcus Idiegbe, sequel to a meeting earlier held in Abuja between them and Management of the Academy on the matter of procuring modern 3 in one Simulator.
But what is the vindicating news today? The exciting news is that the simulators are ready for shipment to Nigeria. It would be recalled that few months ago, the marine experts from the Republic of India arrived the Academy on a feasibility study of structures and space for the simulators, today, a 4-Man team of Management Staff of the Academy, comprising, the Rector, Commodore Duja Effedua, Dr. Kevin Okonna, Engr. G C. Orji and Captain Gabriel Okwu have been in India for pre-inspection and to ratify shipment producers of the simulators the Academy has procured.
This indeed is the pragmatic fulfilment of the Rector’s earlier promise that before long, the Academy was going to boast of the latest and one of the most sophisticated full mission bridge simulators as part of the holistic restructuring and repositioning of the Academy for global recognition.
Amongst other things, the Cadets will now have themselves to blame should they fail to catch up with the benefits and professional conditioning the simulators are targeted at exposing them to.
Preparing the ground ahead of time in his idiosyncratic clairvoyance, the Rector has ensured that the first set of 15 lecturers in core and related areas of discipline were sent to India to be exposed and equipped with the operational dynamics and maintenance of the simulators. The arrangement is that, on the return of the first batch, another 15 will follow to provide steady backup to any case of exigency.
Moreover, against all manner of criticism, blackmail and pessimism inspired by mischief-makers and unrepentant enemies of progress, the Rector also foresaw the need to have the basic infrastructure and enabling environment in place in progressive preparation for the future.
Before Commodore Effedua officially assumed duty approximately two and the half years ago, precisely on September 6, 2017, the Academy was famous for poor management and synonymous with the highest number of dilapidated, abandoned, substandard and insufficient structures that expectedly affected academic performance, staff productivity and depreciating investment and faith by bonafide and prospective stakeholders and partners.
But today, there is nothing in terms of infrastructure, personnel and academic boosters the Academy does not have, and like the Rector had said in many fora, we have not yet gone halfway of his lofty packages of making the Academy a cynosure of all eyes in maritime disquisition anywhere in the world. These include modern setting classrooms and lecture halls; comfortable two-to-a-room hostel blocks; ultra-modern 1000-capacity auditorium with a wall-to-wall LCD; well-stuck library and improved feeding for Cadets. Others are a top of the range latest design reception; staff quarters, sports complex; two modern survival pool; an ICT centre; and general facelift of the Academy vicinity, etc.
This was the enabling condition the Indian team of experts met on ground. Fully satisfied with what they saw, the team ratified with despatch all negotiations and agreements towards having the simulators without any reservations. We vividly recall what the leader of the team, Capt. Chhagra said after inspection of the facility:
“We have assessed the structure and ancillary facility on ground and we are extremely satisfied. We have taken measurements. This will help us in developing the drawings for a simulator centre that will have multi-faceted and synchronised internet facilities and units up to rooms 1-5, instructor’s station, working space for technicians, control room and also provide the most sophisticated modern conveniences that enhance learning and optimum productivity of Cadets and other marine experts on short-term courses”.
Capt. Chhagra further assured, “We are bringing the best that no school of similar status near here can boast of, that will not only meet the technical needs of Cadets but bring them up to steam with the best and latest practice in the world to increase their seafaring knowledge and navigational or nautical science in general”. There is therefore no doubt that the simulators arriving the academy have been built to specifications in terms of time, usage, functionality, climactic conditions, and durability, with a sustainable maintenance support system to ensure optimum utility and checkmate wear and tear.
Procuring simulators anywhere in the world is a capital-intensive undertaking. According to the Rector, “Immediately I saw the need and had the foresight of the possibility, we had to tighten the belt around waist; watch out for needless expenses and financial wastages; and these have enabled us serve some big money over a period for the simulators. We never intended to borrow to fund the project”, he told pressmen sometime ago.
That Maritime Academy is to be listed amongst the few in the world with this high-tech equipment is simply a case study on Commodore Effedua’s prudent management of resources and unquestionable in-depth knowledge of what the Academy exactly needs in the benefit of all.
Bought directly from directly from the generic manufacturers and almost customized to peculiarities, the simulators come as the latest design in maritime architecture, which in the long predisposes the potential for foreign students and maritime professionals making the Academy their regional training ground. This anticipation will in turn become a vibrant source for IGR and reduction of brain drain which for decades has bedevilled the sub-region.
The procurement of the simulators as aspect of Commodore Effedua’s developmental model marks another testimonial milestone in his agenda of restructuring. Let it be written on the marble that this is the first time in the 42 years history of the Academy that we have come this far. Claiming to be a trained seaman and going to the sea without a fair knowledge of the workings of simulators is as deadly as pilot who does not understand the compass. This is the danger Cadets of MAN are saved from in advance, courtesy of the arrival of the simulators.
Now that the simulators have become a reality, seeing farther than others, there can be no doubt that Commodore Effedua and his Management team are truly out to launch the Academy as an emerging competitor in the international comity of functional maritime institutions.
Edet Okpo is an Uyo-based Journalist, Public Affairs Analyst and Maritime Commentator.