New lease for Maritime Academy, Oron

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…As World Bank boosts Nigerian housing sector with $300m loan***

Officials of the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMoT) have paid an unscheduled visit to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, to examine the facility put in place by its management and how it is repositioning the institution for greater

The Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua (rtd.), was reportedly surprised last week when officials of the Federal Ministry of Transportation paid an unscheduled visit to the institution to see the facilities put in place by the management and how it is remodelling the academy.

Investigation revealed that the Rector got notice of the visit less than 24 hours to the arrival of the fact-finding team.

The facility tour came at a time critics and mischief-makers were at the peak of their campaign of calummy against the Rector; misinforming the public on the repositioning of the academy, and smearing the institution’s image through various means of propaganda on media and social network platforms.

The facility tour, therefore, was timely and necessary to authenticate matters and properly inform the government and the public, based on verifiable evidence.

At the end of the four-hour tour, it was learnt that the evidence on ground was too strong and numerous to be contested for any reason, except the spurious.

Right from the road leading to the academy and its main gate, the therapeutic ambience, cleanliness and serenity of the environment and the soothing breeze sweeping across the length and breadth of the academy were obvious enough to show that something new has been put in place.

The tour also revealed that the transformation in the academy was beyond the well manicured grass and the painting of structures. It was that of infrastructural renaissance as seen in the renovation, refurbishing or remodelling of projects to meet expedient needs, completion of projects abandoned for decades, construction of new ones, and facelift that would create a conducive atmosphere for work and academic activities.

The first port of call was the Administrative Block, which houses the Rector’s Office. Apart from giving the block a facelift, more office spaces have been created within the structure by reducing the over-bloated size of the old ones. In addition, a state-of–the-art Reception Office has been built by redesigning the frontage of the Administrative Block, which was once empty and served no specific purpose.

According to the Rector, the facelift became necessary because it was inexplicable that an academy over 40 years old had no Reception Office; hence the newly-designed Reception will enhance proper documentation and security checks on visitors as well as give whoever mans the office a sense of responsibility, concentration and comfort to handle his or her duties. Again, with new offices created within the Administrative Block, workers would be freer and more dedicated to their responsibilities.

Next was the Academy’s Auditorium. It would be recalled that this was one of the flashpoints during the National Assembly’s last visit, where it was observed that materials used for the building were sub-standard, the design primitive, and the job poorly executed, hence a call for remodelling of the gigantic project. Just as was recommended, work on the remodelling is commendable, with the replacement of the inferior tiles with quality ones, replacement of wooden ceiling with POP, and reinforcement of the windows and doors.

According to Effedua, there are plans to properly landscape the undulating grounds around the auditorium and create a car park as soon as major renovations on it were completed.

The tour also took the team to the Academic Block within which are four lecture theatres.  It was observed that the lecture theatres, which were once shadows of realities have been renovated to modern standard with the fixing of quality doors, tiling of the floor, provision of two exit doors and adequate ventilation through extension of the windows.

The Rector assured that as soon as the renovation was completed, smart white boards and comfortable seats would be provided to create conducive learning environment for both the cadets and their lecturers.

From The Nation’s interaction with some principal staff in the Works Department of the academy, it was gathered that the lecture theatres had been abandoned for years even when there were pressing need for them. The Academic Building has a relaxation room for cadets, which is undergoing renovation.

Another project site visited was the ongoing twin state-of-the-art survival pool, where construction was ongoing. Giving a brief background and projections on the project, the Rector said the original concept was that of an Olympic size swimming pool. But again, like other projects, it was abandoned for decades, a situation that had deprived generations of cadets of one of the basic trainings they ought to have had before graduating.

To meet this need, the Rector re-awarded the contract on the condition that two new pools of quality material and standard be created out of the former one, since the main aim is the training of cadets and other professionals who may need such services.

The one-storey, formerly conceived to be the Rector’s Residence,  has also been affected by the wind of change. Because the Rector lives in a rented property outside the academy and considered the apartment to be too big for one individual, he decided to make some structural adjustments on the building to meet part of the academy’s staff accommodation needs.

Following this, accommodation has been provided for 15 workers within the building. The next time you visit the academy and you hear of ‘’White House’’,  it is the new name given to the former Rector’s building out of appreciation and joy by the workers. Besides, construction of workers’accommodation projects is ongoing.

In the meantime, the World Bank has provided Nigeria a $300 million loan to boost the financing needs of the nation’s housing sector. Director of Other Financial Institutions Supervision of the CBN, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins, disclosed this at the workshop on Model Mortgage and Foreclosure Law organized for Attorneys General of the states, as well as federal and state legislators in Abuja yesterday.

She revealed that the loan (about N1.080 billion when converted at N360/$1) was given to Nigeria on a generous term with a re-payment period of 40 years. Martins said CBN was the Project Implementing Entity of the Nigerian Housing Finance Programme, NHFP, which had been working to deepen the primary and secondary markets for mortgages in the country. According to her, the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company, NMRC, was created pursuant to the objectives of the NHFP. She added that although the NMRC operates as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model, “the CBN is underwriting some of the risks that come with the programme.

For instance, CBN is underwriting the foreign exchange risks.” The theme of the workshop was, “Creating an Enabling Environment for the Growth of Housing and Mortgage Sector: The need for Land and Law reform.” Earlier, the CBN Deputy Governor in charge of Corporate Services, Edward Adamu, noted that the sector had been facing major constraints, especially the Land Use Act of 1978.

He said:  “Apart from the unintended constraints created by some of current laws such as the Land Use Act, 1978 and the multiple laws applicable to the creation and enforcement of housing mortgages, difficult legal processes, antiquated land administration infrastructure and policies, the significant costs and multi-layered processes involved in land titling and perfection of land related transactions, have left the housing and mortgage industry in an undesirable and untenable state. “The fact remains that access to adequate housing is directly connected to the health, wealth and happiness of our citizens and impacts everything from our national security, to our family social wellbeing. Therefore, any nation that ignores this critical sector does so at its own peril. “It is an indisputable fact that apart from providing shelter for our citizens, investment in the housing sector will boost our national savings as well as economic growth by creating jobs across the entire economic spectrum as well as imbuing small, micro and medium businesses with a collateral asset often required for accessing finance.” Speaking with journalists on the sideline of the event, the Executive Director (ED) Policy, Strategy and Partnerships of the NMRC, Dr. Chii Akporji, said the programme was to provide greater access to houses for Nigerians by helping to raise long-term funds for the development of the sector. She added that the company would work with state governments to incentivize land acquisition, property registration and foreclosure laws at the sub-national level.

She said:   “The state governments need to attract investments in the sector to their states. It will increase their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, so they will have more money and, of course, more jobs are created. “There are certain steps that these state governments need to take in order to create that environment, essentially looking at the issue of land, titling,   property registration , instituting a foreclosure mechanism.   Those are the key things that state governments are expected to look at, with a view to reforming them, expediting the process . “For example, the issue of governor’s consent is very important.  That is what you need to get access to land and to home ownership. “Initially, what we see is that this can take many years.  You see the files pile up for governors’ consent. What this new initiative proposes is that either the governor makes it a priority or delegates that responsibility to a commissioner.’’

The Nation with additional report from Vanguard