Over the years, the contributions and peaceful dispositions of the immediate host communities of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron in Akwa Ibom State may have been excellent and commendable. This, among other things, have accounted for the peaceful atmosphere and smooth working relationship between workers in the Academy and members of both the immediate and surrounding host communities.
However, it must be observed that this peace and cordiality that have lasted over the years are now being threatened by recent events in the Academy. First and foremost, it is pertinent to clarify that, out of the five local government areas that make up what is known as Oro Nation, the core immediate host Communities of the Academy are Eyo-Abasi and Idua Group of Villages in Oron Local Government Area. Just last week, a group of individuals led by a certain Chief from the host community Offong Francis Eyo and Mr. Eteyen Oboho, after deliberations amongst themselves, decided to carry a corpse on procession across the premises of the Academy. On getting winds of the information and the plan, the Rector of the Academy, Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua, is said to have visited the village and demanded of him why such decision had been taken. The Rector is said to have personally visited and advised the Chief and his people to change their plans, and advised them to use an alternative road. The Rector argued that carrying the corpse through the Academy would pose serious health and environmental implications on the staff, Cadets and other concerns in the Academy the Rector cautioned them to always use dialogue in resolving some critical issues instead of using violence and meaningless protest. Rather than see reason with the Rector, the people insisted on their plans and later went pulling down a section of the Academy’s walls, destroyed the back-gate and caused enormous commotion – all in the bid to have access for procession. Surprisingly, at the end of the whole drama, findings revealed that nobody had died in the community as claimed by the perpetrators as sponsors of violent encroachment into the academy.
It was not long when reliable information indicated that the whole drama was but a booby-trap initiated and masterminded by some persons who used the chief as a lynch-pin to drag the Rector and Academy into an open confrontation and generate tension, but which the Rector in his wisdom and characteristic diplomacy ably averted. It was further gathered that this insidious trend that is brandishing its ugly head is believed to be sponsored by a syndication of conspirators and disgruntled members within and outside the Academy, who have vowed to utilize all at their disposal to ensure that there is constant or periodic distraction and disruptions in the Academy even when the Rector has already taken charge.
This strategy, according to our findings, is with the ultimate motive of giving the impression that there is crisis in the academy and that nothing is working under the Rectorship of Comdr. Duja Effedua. A regretful member of the group who chose to speak on grounds of anonymity confessed that it was also to create a general sense of disorder and ill-feeling amongst staff of the Academy and present the Management in bad light. Principals and perpetrators of these retrogressive ideas are believed to be those who are still aggrieved over the present restructuring and repositioning efforts of the Federal Government through the Interim Management Committee as well as the meritorious appointment of a Rector whom they claimed is a non-indigene. Checks further revealed that the chief financier and sponsor of the incident was already afraid of the ongoing investigation of financial recklessness and wrongful employment of some staff of the academy.
According to the source, the kingpin of the idea who is from Oron and a senior staff of the Academy who had nursed the dream of becoming the Rector, had vowed that as long as he remains frustrated nobody else shall have peace in the Academy. He is said to be the sponsor of the series of protests that the Academy has witnessed in recent times and has sworn to adopt other tactics to materialize his evil plots.
It must be said that these untoward developments do not speak well of the sponsors nor the image of the Host Communities. Interestingly, having come to know that the corpse procession and other protests were sponsored to promote selfish personal reasons, some members of the community have regretted their involvement and disassociated themselves from the protest. They rued their gullibility and promised to team up with the Management for the growth and development of the Academy.
Beyond these confessions, the instigators of the bad idea ought to have thought twice in the light of the necessity for the rapid transformation of the Academy, more than 40 years after its establishment. It is sad that, even when the Federal Government has expended so much and is determined to turn the Academy’s fortunes and redeem the grand vision of the founding fathers, those who are the primary and greatest beneficiaries of the transformation have rather chosen to play the devil’s role. It would have been expected that, with renewed ideologies and reinforced structures that the present Rector has put in place, all hands should be on deck to make the Academy the pride of the region and that of the continent.
It is therefore necessary that the Federal Government steps in with full force to nib the present ugly development in the bud before it snowballs into worse dimensions. Doing so even more promptly will allow the determined and highly disciplined Rector to concentrate and fully apply his tested administrative acumen in the effective management of the Academy which directly falls under his pro-marine professional field. Whereas the Rector has so much on his shoulders considering the present status and prospect of the Academy, nothing should be allowed to distract him from focus. Stakeholders and reasonable members of the Host Community should also know that they have a work on hand – that of constant orientation of fellow indigenes to see the Academy as a Federal Government project that is meant to benefits all and sundry, but which multiplier effect can first be traced to the host communities. From day one, the Rector had shown no pretensions to his declared open door policy with host communities. It therefore smacks of ingratitude and rascality when people take law into their hands out of selfish interest.
Above all, the recent acts of brigandage, insinuations, instigations, speculations and protestation sponsored by enemies of progress and aimed at giving a false impression about the Academy and the capacity of Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua to fully translate modalities towards its transcontinental reckoning is highly condemnable.
*Raymond Uweh, an indigene of MAN, Oron Host Community, is a Public Affairs Analyst