MARITIME ACADEMY OF NIGERIA: REDIRECTING THE MINDSET OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS AGAINST SOCIAL VICES By Edet Okpo

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How practical and commendable it is to observe how the Management of Maritime Academy of Nigeria is relentless in the advancement of its sustainable template for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for the host communities of the Academy!

As one of many in the series in the past two years, the Academy on Friday, November 22, 2019, successfully organized a Sensitization workshop on the theme: “Curbing Drug Abuse, Cyber Crime and Cultism Among Secondary School Students”.

Held in the ultra-modern Rt. Hon. Rotimi Ameachi Auditorium, the workshop had in attendance 600 Secondary School Students drawn from 10 different schools in Oron Local Government Area, the immediate host community to the Academy.

As part of ensuring that the aims and objectives of the workshop were most effectively and satisfactorily realized, the Academy’s Management neither spared resources nor bothered about the rigours of assembling such a huge number of students and the best resource persons who are experts in their fields, to marshal proceedings and harness the nitty-gritty of the content and scope of the workshop through paper presentations, slide pictures, videos and interactive sessions.

The five resource persons who took turns to deliver their papers were drawn from the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Uyo Command, represented by a Superintendent of Narcotics and Principal Staff Officer (PSO), Mrs. Naomi John Isang; the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Uyo Zonal Office, represented by SDS. Moses Otitoju; and Superintendent of Police (SP), Daniel Etuk, from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Akwa Ibom State Command. Representing the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and Head of Health Services of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria was Dr. Obioma Christopher; and a Senior Staff of the Academy and Ordained Minister of God, T. Dunya, on behalf of the Church.

The Rector of the Academy, Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua , in his welcome remarks had emphasised on the essence of the workshop and his administration’s unwavering determination to utilize Corporate Social Responsibility as a vibrant vehicle to impact positively on the composite segments and sectors of the host communities. He stated that the choice of the sensitization workshop was borne out of the recurrent incidences of social vices in contemporary times, perhaps as it specifically affect the Oron environment, which available statistics have found the youth to be most vulnerable.

The Rector who was represented by the Acting Registrar of the Academy, Mr. Peter Netson, in company of some Directors and other staffers, further maintained that it was necessary pragmatic and prompt steps be taken by the Academy to sensitize the younger generation through timely and quality exposures and orientation on the dynamics of social vices and their attendant dangers.

“The youths are the trustees of tomorrow. They are the future of this nation. For that reason, they have to be taken care of, well-exposed, equipped and protected at any cost against prevalent social evils in the society. That is why, in organizing events like this, the Academy cares little or nothing about what some might see as inconvenience but is essentially concerned about the health, opportunities, potentials and the future of our youth, which can easily be damaged if we as elders and institution failed in our God-assigned responsibilities.

Continuing, the Rector reiterated, “For us in the Academy, CSR is a necessity that cannot be taken for granted. That is why, before today’s workshop, most schools and other sections of the host communities have already benefitted from our goodwill. It is therefore expected that at the end of today’s exercise, the students will have come to better appreciate its essence as they return to their various schools and communities to be better students and children”. The Rector however hinted that more were on line for similar packages in the future, with variations in content and targets to cater for perceived existing and emerging needs across geography and demographics of the host communities.

In her paper entitled: “Danger and Remedies of Drugs Abuse to the Youths in Our Society”, Mrs. Naomi Isang disclosed that many youths have gone mad, died suddenly or became nuisance to the society because of addiction to narcotic drugs. Her lecture equally helped the students to identify drugs commonly used, processes of drug abuse, predisposing factors, stages of drug abuse, socially acceptable drugs, meaning and effects of addiction as well as made recommendations on how the menace could be curbed.

On the topic: “The Negative Effects of Cultism”, SP Daniel Etuk had taken the students down memory lane to how cultism may have sown its portent seed in the University College, Ibadan in 1958 when the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, and eight others launched an advocacy group called Seadogs, to fight against the evils of colonialism. The officer however lamented how cultism has flowered with many names and deadly activities over the years and strongly warned the students to shun it in all forms because of dangers it poses to individual life and the society. The nuisance of cyber crime –its definitions, methodologies, target groups, social and legal implications and the need for abhorrence was handled by Mr. Moses Otitoju.

Just as the health talk by Dr. Obioma Christopher helped the students to better understand the effects of drug abuse and the intricacies in the use of term as well as opened their minds to subtle steps to addiction, the last paper of the workshop which was a sort of spiritual counselling by Mr. T. Dunya focussed on the spirit behind all evil thoughts. Making copious references to the Bible Book of Genesis 1: 26, 27; 4:10-14; Romans and 5: 23 and the need for all to repent and take full advantage of Jesus’s ransoming blood for forgiveness and salvation, he traced the origin of social evils to man’s disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden. Mr. Dunya however reasoned that the best life was that lived in the fear of God and therefore admonished the students to shun all kinds of evil and seek God through prayer, faith and testimonies.

The end-of-presentation session offered the students and the entire audience ample opportunities to ask questions, make observations and got answers from the resource persons. The expression of joy, gratitude and generous commendations of the initiative by MAN from enchanted students in their post-workshop interviews further buttressed the importance of the workshop especially in a bourgeoning, heterogeneous and semi-metropolitan coastal town like Oron.

Victoria Essien Ukim of Royal Comprehensive College said she was very happy because the workshop “was very informative, educative” and there were things she heard that she never knew about or really understood but which the workshop threw light. According to Daniel Okon Esidoke, an SS1 student of Etiedu International School, “I am excited to be here. I love their interest in us without charging us anything”. From Golden International School came Wellington Wellington Wiilam, SS3, who said: “Let me just say a big thank you to the Rector and all those who remember us this special way. I’ll always be grateful for today’s event.

Among the teachers who conveyed their feelings were Isangedeghi Mfon Silvester, Vice Principal of Royal College, Oron, who said the immeasurable importance of the workshop cannot be overemphasised. “With initiatives like this I think the Rector certainly know where he is taking the Academy to”. Mr. David Oboho, Mary Hanney Secondary School, Oron, “The programme has addressed squarely issues of contemporary times. It is timely”. Loveth Ononiba, a teacher at Golden International Schools, had simply responded: “it is a wonderful one. Those who attended should count themselves highly privileged. MAN is a great neighbour”.

The Roll Call of benefiting schools at the Sensitization Workshop had Infant Jesus Model Secondary School; Golden International Schools; Royal College; Etiedu Nursery School; Mary Hanney Girls Secondary School; Mainland Technical College; Methodist Boys High School; National Secondary Commercial School and Comunty Secondary School, EyoAbasi –all in Oron L,G. Area.

Chairman of CSR team and Acting Director for Works in the Academy, Engr. Wale who was also the organizing chairman of the workshop had, on behalf of the Management, Staff and students of the Academy registered gratitude to the resource persons, management and students of benefiting schools for honouring the day and making the event meet expectations.

It was far from novelty that Academy sponsored the Workshop. Like the Rector said, It has been part and parcel of the Academy’s focus from the moment Commodore Duja Effedua assumed office on September 6, 2017. Within the period, the Academy has donated computers and ICT facilities, desks and tables, and even bought JAMB forms for students. Many roads in the adjoining villages have been graded, sports and cultural events sponsored as well as the existing arrangement of providing drums of diesel to Iguita General Hospital, Oron, on a daily weekly.

The recent Workshop is therefore added confirmation of how the Effedua-led administration at Maritime Academy of Nigeria is redefining the principle of Corporate Social Responsibility for integrated development of host communities.

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