By NBF News
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The Maritime Professionals Association has decried the neglect of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, which has not released its statutory five per cent grant.

Speaking during a briefing on Thursday, the President of the maritime professionals, Dr. Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu, said that the agency ought to be releasing about N2bn to MAN every year.

Jideofo-Ogbuagu explained that instead of helping to develop MAN and relying on it to supply maritime manpower, NIMASA officials preferred to be sending insignificant numbers of persons to foreign countries for maritime training thereby wasting the country's foreign exchange in the process.

He noted that MAN's existing facilities were overstretched, saying instead of producing 2,500 graduates annually, the institution produced an average of 250 graduates.

Jideofo-Ogbuagu said, 'Over 33 years of its existence, it has been disgracefully treated. If it was located in Kaduna or Lagos, for instance, would it be shabbily treated all these years? We saw the speed with which the Federal Executive Council approved and released billions of naira for upgrade of the Petroleum institute in Kaduna (instead of the one at Effurum, Delta State).

'Also we saw the speed FEC approved the police academy in Kano to degree-awarding institutions (universities), but calls and agitations for upgrade of MAN to Maritime University of Nigeria have been made repeatedly over the years without action being taken by the federal government.

'We saw how, four years ago, Federal Ministry of Transport Technology attempted to force a cynical merger of MAN and Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria. And we saw how, two years ago, NIMASA rushed to establish another maritime academy in Badagry when the existing one at Oron was yet to be fully developed.'

While calling on NIMASA to immediately release all outstanding payments to MAN, Jideofo-Ogbuagu said that such would enable the academy to complete all its pending projects.

He urged that Federal Ministry of Transport to take decisive action against the leadership of the agency over its refusal to release funds due to MAN over the years.

'NIMASA's attitude toward MAN has been nothing short of sabotage against Nigeria's maritime ambition. The Federal government must not continue to condone that agency's notorious impunity and impudence,' Jideofo-Ogbuagu said.

On the development of the Ibom maritime and industrial city, Jideofo-Ogbuagu stressed that the completion of the project would make it rival the one in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Aba, Abia State, in maritime and industrial importance, noting that it would become the industrial city of Akwa Ibom State.