MAN’s Critical Assignment
Having gone around to see and to identify the areas that required urgent intervention in appreciation of the task ahead, Effedua told our reporter matter of fact, that because of the criticality of the assignment, every seconds count and as such, he was determined to work at a speed necessary to clean up the rots in a timely manner that would also make it possible to reconnect MAN with its mission objective in as little a time as it takes, within the time frame allocated to him.
“I am not a politician and I did not lobby to be appointed. Therefore I view my appointment as very important and meaningful, and I can tell you with all sense of humility that I am here to work, not to play politics. The IMC of which I am a part have gone round and taking note of issues that require to be addressed urgently, and that duty falls squarely on my shoulders. Those crying of conflicts between my office and the committee are getting it wrong. The committee recommends and I implement, it is a simple and straightforward arrangement, and there is no controversy in terms of my mandate to restructure and reposition this institution”, Effedua told our reporter.
Perhaps, the Rector’s clear headedness and focus can be the only singular reason much has been achieved within a space of eight months, evident in the progress report availed our reporter who was part of the media facility tour at the Academy, recently. The facility tour which was ostensibly undertaken to facilitate the facts and figures in the ongoing clean up exercise, necessary to provide the media a clear view of happenings in the Academy, and thus be in an informed position to report accurately, unimpeded by rumour, misinformation and or mischief. Until now local rumour and orchestrated mischief has to a great extent remain active in relation to much news report associated with the Academy, and which sadly, has been apparently sustained courtesy of half information, misinformation, misrepresentation, and sometimes made fertile through twisting of available facts to meet predetermined and less than noble motives.
But what started like rumour has transformed into material facts, revealing all the hidden truths, which has manifested through a framework of structured reform, part of which are ongoing remodeling, reconstruction and strengthening of critical infrastructure which includes a number of academic blocks, the e-Library, auditorium, survival training swimming pool, staff quarters, cadets refectory, boys hostels etc.
The Rector unknown to the public has since carried out fresh design and commenced the reconstruction of major projects in the Academy to meet international standard. The roofs and ceilings said to have deteriorated over the years have all nearly been replaced with better quality roofing and ceiling materials. He has also within the time limit of eight months created state of the art lecture halls, with a sitting capacity for 25 to 30 students, hitting the standard demand for conducive and efficient learning environment.
Head of the Public Relations Department, Mr. Peter Netson who represented the Rector during the tour, showed our reporter round infrastructural projects, beginning with the brand new Administrative Block Access Control Gate, which was carved out of the rectorate’s car park and the front entrance to the 3-storey building. Designed to meet the ISPS Code, the Access Gate comprise of a security/check-in section to the left, sitting/waiting reception to the right, with a rotational barrier system through which visitors access the stairways on the ground gallery, also overlooking the back side staff and general car park.
It is no doubt an impressive innovation that has for the first time taken into cognizance, the security of the administration block as a very sensitive component of the Academy. Next was the phase one academic block, where four lecture halls affected by the extensive remodeling, rehabilitation and reconstruction, have reached about 70percent completion stage. The doors and windows have been increased by one and two additional ones, respectively, even as the door width and breadth have been expanded with beautiful interior décor emphasized with appropriate roof POP in some cases. The floors of all four halls were also redesigned in a flight of rows of chairs in a ramp from the main entrance downwards to the base, with an architectural allure exuding a classic ambience; so unique to learning atmosphere.
Netson showed reporters the old tiles that have been removed and to be replaced with better ones, while the classroom chairs adjudged by the IMC as substandard and in unacceptable conditions for usage, have also been removed and will be changed. The roofs and ceilings were not left off as all the four lecture halls have new roofs, even as workers were seen bustling and hustling around in various tasks, while others are scrubbing, chiseling and smoothening walls preparatory to painting.
It was the same story at the auditorium, which bore the imprint of pathetic and offensive substandard legacy. One of such was the furniture and chairs, most of which has lost their colours, become threadbare, worn and torn, even when they have not been used. Netson informed that the Rector has also awarded the contract for their replacement, pursuant to meeting the IMO standards in all ramifications. At the e-Library the story is same except that it is much huger in terms of size, and no doubt in terms of emerging new overall costs, which the present management has to contend with. It has reached about 70percent completion stage, while Effedua was quoted as having hired professionals to handle the beautification and landscaping jobs.
Responding to reporters’ inquiry on the bad furniture kept is some office spaces, Netson explained, “Yes, they were the chairs students were using before the IMC directed that the whole place should be upgraded and brought to standard. The present rector inherited them in the state you are seeing them. At least you are seeing how bad they look, MAN is subjected to standard guidance by the IMO, and that is why the rector has also approved funds for their replacements and upgrade.
“It is not just the roof, the ceilings, chairs and all the other defects here (auditorium) and other places are affected in the ongoing repairs. You will see for yourselves as we go round. Our rector is not the noise making type, maybe we would have invited here (Press) when he clocks a year in office and to be able to show you round. As we take you round we are sure you are now in a position to tell the world what you have seen so that your report will shame those mischief makers who obviously are against meaningful and critical changes now taking place at the Academy. I am sure you understand that his appointment is tied to two terms of four years each. He is not going to take away with him anything he has done here, and this makes it necessary for all elements wearing the garb of enmity and haters of progress and detractors to show a sense of commonwealth and support this effort”, the image maker said.
To revive the national context of the Academy, the Rector has also completed the building of a Mosque adjacent the Academic Wing for Muslem cadets, stakeholders and staff members, while the building of two chapels for Anglican and Apostolic faith, respectively, is ongoing. Separating the Mosque and Chapels is a 50 room capacity bungalow already serving as residential quarter for security personnel, drawn from the Nigerian Legion, NSCDC and others, who are providing security for the Academy.
The survival training swimming pool that has been moribund for more than a decade and which is believed to have claimed the lives of some kids who sneaked there to bathe without notice, and got trapped under the debris that took over the abandoned pool, is part of the ongoing aggressive rehabilitation; said to have reached over 60percent completion stage by the site engineer. When completed, management would no longer have to go scouting for swimming pool elsewhere for use of cadets.
Explaining some points on the swimming pool, Netson said, “The report the Rector got on the swimming pool is what has informed its remodeling and reconstruction, like you are seeing now. The Rector also being a mariner said we do not need Olympic size swimming pool for survival training. He made contacts to get a second opinion, and he was right, he was told two depth swimming pools can be gotten from this one that has been abandoned for years, and as you can see, he immediately hired swimming pool engineers, who immediately mobilized to site. Very soon, this pool will be completed and like I told you earlier, he (Rector) is also concerned that the sooner the swimming pool was ready for use, the better for the cadets and management. This will be a boost to securing permanent solution to completion of part requirements for cadets training. This is a major milestone and of course, as soon as this and other projects under rehabilitation are concluded, in the shortest possible time given the level of seriousness, the Academy would have started the earnest journey to reconnect with its mandate objective.”
Perhaps nothing can be more factual, purposeful and promising than the results on ground, expected to have been made functional before the end of the year. It is also not surprising that Effedua not only applied military precision in the timely discharge of these important assignments and reconstruction, additional facts on ground indicated his knack for standard, expertise and timing. Like a man in hurry to catch up with missed opportunities, Effedua seem focused beyond distraction, as he plot his first term graph to be able to revive and put in place all major infrastructural projects and assets including standard and functional simulators and ICT, standard academic curriculum, improved academic staff, sea time training etc.
Unapologetic about his desire to see cadets get the right atmosphere to study, the Rector also took his cleanup activities to the cadets’ refectory, following discovery that cadets food and feeding administration were below standard. He did not forebear to quickly re-organize the place as he redeployed staff members managing the kitchen and canteen to other departments and contracted the place to food vendors; believed to be doing fantastically well. Effedua was not done; he set up a committee to be monitoring the quality and quantity of food given to cadets, monitor meal timetable, feeding time and such other details as professionalism in appearance, service courtesy and complaints.
Presently, the cadets are getting quality service and food, and in a timely respectable manner. The committee is expected to report any discrepancy in the agreement reached with the food vendors, and also make recommendations on better ways of raising standards as at when necessary.
A man of integrity and patriotic credentials, Effedua is believed to have turned down an already approved budget proposal for the replacement of the Rector’s Jeep, and opted to continue to use the old one he inherited. He was said to have complained that the environment unit responsible for cleaning and physical maintenance of the Academy lacked the required machineries to function optimally.
And guess what, the guy flew to Abuja, discussed with his boss the Minister of Transportation, and thereafter went to the National Assembly and secured an adjustment to the budget, in which cleaning machineries such as mowers, sweeping tractors were used to supplant the Jeeps. The environment unit has a number of youths gainfully employed, including indigenes of the host community.
Since assuming leadership of the Academy, staff accommodation has received significant attention as most of the quarters with major defects are currently undergoing repairs. At a time government appointees seek to get everything double from government scarce resources, Effedua elected to give up the grandeur of the rector’s palatial residence located at a choice area of the Academy for a paid accommodation in Uyo, the state capital.
His reasons are not farfetched, as he is believed to be uncomfortable occupying the large mansion when some staff members are obliged to live outside the campus following current inadequate accommodation. As part of leadership sacrifice, he directed the partitioning of the storey building into units of compact flats, which he allocated to fifteen staff members of the rectorate.
In practical terms, while it is best and evidently correct to say most of the present efforts are no more than clean up exercises on projects done with little or no consideration for standards and became defective shortly thereafter, it is safe to infer in addition that Effedua’s courage and determination to pursue general system upgrade, remains an uncommon official leadership phenomenon, something regarded as very rare and scarce in modern day Nigeria.
Sources close to his office informed that Effedua is currently embroiled in the battle to get the federal government to commit to free feeding of cadets as is the practice in other federal regimental institutions. Those whose business it is to know think that Effedua’s sense of urgency is legendary, a disposition that may have accounted for his worry at a very early stage, the dearth of the right calibre of academic staff that should drive the Academy’s future growth under the present repositioning agenda.
The Rector is also believed to be looking at the need to give embark on the repainting of all the roofs and structure, and to change the official signature sky blue colour to navy blue, while retaining its white wall coating. The MAN navy/white colour combination remains a unique official colour, but which has become weather beaten and lost its sparkling allure, and left with dull, dirty and in some cases, dark spots that speaks of official neglect. As soon as the Rector is also able to fix this minus which constitute first impression to the outside world, MAN would have nearly succeeded in reinventing itself, and Effedua can then sit back and move to the next level.
Perhaps this explains the early delegation of Ghanaian maritime experts and educationists who were believed to have visited the Academy barely a month after he took over the affairs of the Academy. They were believed to have been contracted by the Rector-in-Council, that is in collaboration with the IMC, to help rejig MAN’s academic structural framework and to redesign its academic curriculum. Sources close to his office inform that Effedua is talking with development partners on possible ways technical and operational support can be given to the Academy, in the drive to urgently re-invent itself and remain competitive, sub regionally, continentally and globally.
Contrary to misinformation that the Rector has barred host community indigenes who are contagious neighbours to the Academy from using the school as thoroughfare, the facts on ground showed that Effedua merely provided an alternative route for the traditional neighbours, while seeking intervention of the state and local governments, to help provide them a road, as it is improper and unsafe to throw the Academy gates open for public thoroughfare. Pending when other roads are made available, the Rector has created a pathway for them to and fro the main road, with a gate at the Eastern End of the new extension. The gate is manned by security men engaged and paid by the Academy, and who shuts the gate at night and re-open it at dawn.