MARITIME ACADEMY OF NIGERIA: USING CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE MORE POSITIVE STATEMENTS. By Edet Okpo

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More than two years after, the inaugural promises made in 2017 by Commodore Emmanuel Duja Effedua (Rtd.) that he will give people enough reasons to celebrate his appointment as Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) and also effectively utilize CSR as a vehicle for touching lives and developing the host communities of the institution have never failed fulfilling by the day.

Apart from the positive manifestations in other critical areas of his transformational agenda, Commodore Emmanual Effedua has given peculiar and pragmatic interpretations to the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by making it more engaging, holistic and inclusive with innovative packages that capture the composite needs of individual beneficiaries and diverse expectations of the entire host communities.

Not gloating over his commendable and cumulative past record in this regards, the Academy recently sponsored and organized a one-month long football completion for youths in Oron Local Government Areas, the immediate host community, to give them a sense of belonging in series of festivities that climax the end of year 2019. The event was deliberately timed for this period of the year when schools have closed and many youths would have returned home in the spirit of the time.

Sunday, December 15, 2019 was the grand finale of the pan-Oron soccer fiesta, with trophies and various cash prizes given to winners in different categorises. The golden trophy was won by Clement Praise Football Club with a cash prize of N750, 000 (Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand). Sea Sider Football Club that won a Silver trophy took home N500, 000 (Five Hundred Thousand); while the sum of N350, 000 (Three Hundred Thousand) went to Ibaka Coastal Football Club that crowned its efforts with a bronze for a third place. The fourth place winner, Impeders Football Club, got a booby prize of N250, 000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand).

The organization of the football matches which adhered strictly to FIFA standard and procedures was facilitated by a renowned sports connoisseur and youth Leader in the community , Mr. John Anwana Ikott, while Mr. Bassey Henshaw Michael served as Chairman, Local Organizing Committee. Whereas all participating teams were appreciated with over 300 bathing towels, souvenirs were also given to spectators who witnessed the final Competition.

The Rector had stressed in his opening remarks that the essential idea was not in who won or lost in the end, but the beauty of gathering such number of youths to generate healthy competition that instilled in them the spirit of sportsmanship, unity and teamwork for collective goals.

Represented at the event by the Registrar of the Academy, Mr. Netson Peter, the Rector emphasized that the football event was organized as a conscious response to the expectations of Corporate Social Responsibility which the Academy places high premium on as one of the most functional machinery to reach the host communities with the Academy’s goodwill.

Speaking categorically on some of the benefits of the event, the Rector who lauded Oron people for their support to the Academy and harmonious working relationship, further stated: “Amongst other things, this event was conceived by my Management to engage the youth on worthwhile endeavours that would take their minds away from vices this festive season, create a spirit of oneness, discover hidden and latent talents and, most importantly, engender good neighbourliness and sense of belonging that would help members of the communities appreciate the policies and genuine concerns of the Academy in their welfare and growth. This in turn, will almost naturally create mutual understanding and conducive working environment for the Academy. To the Academy, CSR is on the topmost list of policies”. There was no doubt that these altruistic aims were met.
The Team leader of the Academy’s Corporate social Responsibility who is also the Acting Director of Works and Services, Engr . Ogunsoya Wale described the football tournament as historic inview of the countless number of spectators and sports enthusiasts who thronged the Oron Town Stadium.

In a related development within the same week, the Academy also visited Motherless Homes and donated food stuffs and Cash and proceeded to the General Hospital, Iquita Oron, where it cleared accumulated bills for 27 patients who lacked the wherewithal to do so and therefore had remained in the hospital for months for that reason.

In appreciating and commending the Rector whom he described as “God Sent”, the Chief Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Dr. Sebastian Patrick Noah, said the Academy was a sterling example and fitting challenge to International Oil Companies and other institutions during businesses in Oron who cannot point at one thing they have deliberately contributed to the betterment of lives of host communities. “It is amazing to see the Academy take these public-interest measures. This is the first time we have experienced this in the magnitude it has come”, the CMS disclosed with gratitude.

Soaked in tears of joy and gratitude for what they described as a “rescue mission”, two of the benefiting patients whose bills had just been upset by the Academy, Mary Effiong Asukwo and Elizabeth F. Matthew, spoke of how hopeless their situations were until the Academy’s unexpected and timely intervention on their behalf. They disclosed that they could not pay their bills even after being discharged, the very season they were not allowed to leave the hospital until such bills would have been defrayed. Incidentally, as available record revealed, this same hospital currently enjoys weekly supply of diesel from the Academy to drive its operations.

Also within the week, the Academy purchased some educational accessories and 200 JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board) forms which shall be distributed without attached conditions to Oron indigenes wishing to further their education at the tertiary level. In the words of Commodore Effedua who sees education as a weapon to fight poverty, “This is done to ensure that Oro Nation continues to remain at forefront of producing more graduates who will be the trustees of the future. We want to be part of that project and dream”.

The Academy’s CSR gestures of the last one week were no novelties, except that some are just taking their turns now. From 2017 when the Rector assumed office, the present Management has used CSR as a catalyst for impacting on the host communities. Desks, ICT accessories/labs and books have been donated to four secondary schools in the community; in addition to buying JAMB forms for those qualified and organizing multi-directional high profile seminars/workshops for students across gender and ages.

The Academy has also sponsored cultural festivals, graded roads, and engaged more than 100 indigenes of the community on some serviceable and recurrent needs of the Academy, including contracts, employment, environmental beautification, etc. There can be no doubt that this community-oriented CSR template which has been sustained through the open-door diplomacy of the Academy have been responsible for the optimal peace and cordial relationship existing between the institution and host communities.

The grand summary is that, in the last two years, the Commodore Effedua-led Management has been giving the host communities something to look forward to within and at the end of every year. This perhaps explains why the Corporate Social Responsibility Team, headed by Engr. Ogunsoya Wale, is now unarguably one of the busiest and most vibrant subsisting entities on the Academy’s bureaucratic framework.

It brings to mind what the Rector said in 2017 while interacting with the youths of the host Communities: “I will give you enough reasons to appreciate why the Federal Government appointed me to Superintendent the affairs of this Academy and to restructure and reposition it for global reckoning”.

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