Text of a press release by the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron on allegations aginst the Rector of the institution:
Our attention has been drawn to the jaundiced, baseless and morbid attempt to smear the good image and rising profile of Dr Joshua Okpo, the Rector/Chief Executive Officer of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron, Akwa Ibom State by yet another frustrated and seeminly group going by the tainted name of Oron Youth Movement (OYM).
Ordinarily, we would not have dissipated our energy in responding to their barriage of allegations concocted in a futile attempt to box Okpo to a corner and force him to give them a slice of the academy’s lean resources, but the fact remains that silence on its own could be misconstrued to mean consent. Hence the need to clear the air.
Before Okpo’s appointment as Rector of the academy, two communities were having communal clashes and it got to the peak just about the period he resumed.
The Akwa lbom state government tried to settle the warring communities but could not and the entire indigenes of the community where the school is situated fled and have not returned till date despite the fact that it took a man like Joshua Okpo to bring the warring communities together at different peace meetings held inside the maritime academy of Nigeria, Oron.
However, in the interest of both communities and the academy at large which has cadets drawn from all parts of Nigeria and abroad, Okpo at a time got the seventh National Assembly Committee on Marine Transport- the Senate and House of Representatives to visit the academy at different times and at the end of the visits, the National Assembly approved a budget for the academy to handle the security challenges as well as ensuring balance in area of employment and contract award to the communities.
Interestingly, the OYM was one of the beneficiaries of the local content issue in diverse ways because a good number of their candidates were employed and they also handled some projects on line with the resolutions of the peace meeting.
So, any petition from OYM alleging the contrary is simply a product of mishief. That also explains why such reports are only published by questionable online media that are deficient in integrity because no popular newspaper or magazine worth its salt will not verify the lopsided report before publishing.
The supporting payment vouchers are meant to mislead the public because the National Assembly and the Transport Ministry have extolled Okpo for channeling the Academy into the right programmes.
So, we take the report as hatchet job which it is and remain focused on taking the school to the next level.
Interestingly, Okpo is not new to the antics of various amorphous groups seeking to destroy an academy that has taken the incumbent management time, energy and resources to reposition for higher productivity.
First was the Amalgamated Oron Group Youth Force who started what is best termed a laughable propaganda against the Rector.
When the jobless and trouble-hungry group did not succeed by forcing Okpo to “settle” them, OYM has sprang up to see if it can succeed where the other group failed.
Suffice it to say that we won’t be surprised if another group is formed to continue this fruitless venture aimed at either forcing the Rector to part with money or have his towering image rubbished.
Though some of the frustrated boys may be basking in old glories for forcing the former Egyptian Rector and the last Yoruba Rector to leave the academy without completing their tenure, may we remind them that Okpo does not budge under such pressure.
The incumbent Rector is highly determined to run the Academy in line with the Federal Government’s template and as such will not yield to pressure from people with “entitlement mentality” whose sole ambition is to milk the academy dry under various guises.
Their stock in trade is writing fictitious petitions but since Okpo has nothing to hide, such concocted reports have remained in government’s trash bins because the Transport Ministry and other government agencies cannot be deceived by the antics of these petition writers.
We urge Oron elders to call the rampaging youths to order because the Academy is not theirs but for the entire Nigerians, though it is located in their territory. The youths should join the contraction crew and not the wrecking gang.
The online report forgot to mention that more classrooms, staff quarters, male and female hostels,administrative blocks have been built in phase two and three of the academy under Okpo’s watch.
It maliciously skipped to mention that there is undeniable upgrade of facilities and training of the academy’s teaching and non teaching staff in line with internationally accepted standards for such specialised institutions.
It is perhaps these achievements in a short time of four years that President Buhari, a man aptly dubbed “Mr Integrity” reappointed him as Rector for another four years. We can only imagine in joy the envious height MAN Oron would have attained when Okpo completes his second term in 2019.
Let’s keep a date with history!
Media Consultant to Maritime academy of Nigeria, Oron