By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
The recent advertisement by the Federal Government of Nigeria on national dailies calling on qualified applicants for different academic positions in the newly established Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state was viewed by many as a right step taken in the right direction.
This also calls for commendation on the part of the Federal Government just as it has led to an appreciable level of peace in the region.
But critical minds in the Niger Delta region have neither taken the purported advertisement by the Federal Government seriously nor considered the move as orchestrated by the government in good fate. Their skeptical perception and suspicion is attributed to the unpalatable experiences they have had in the hands of the government – both state and the federal in time past.
Some watchers also viewed the sudden advertisement as a response to the recent threat by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to resume hostilities in the Niger Delta region; a threat which they told the world to be brutal, brutish and bloody.
Those advancing this school of thought opined that, now that the Avengers have rescinded their decision, nothing tangible will come out of this said resumption.
There is also this speculation in some quarters that the long promised two billion naira take-off grant by the Federal Government is yet to be released which also acts as a proof of unseriousness on the part of the government.
GbaramatuVoice as an organization with its operational base in the Niger Delta has also taken time to visit the take-off site of the school in order to ascertain the level of preparedness on ground.
But to the dismay of our crew, the level of preparedness as observed points to a school that is not yet ready for the commencement of academic activities.
This objective observation of ours has informed the decision to bring this up before the government for further clarification.
A visit to the take-off site will reveal a school that has been overtaken by weeds occasioned by abandonment.
This, our crew were told that if not for the periodic voluntary/community service by the youths of the host community, the environment would have been covered by bush.
Again, during our visit to the school, we met just six ad hoc staff who claimed that they were hurriedly drafted by the school management to help receive the applications from those that will be handing-in hard copies.
Also, the people of the region have pointed out that if it takes the Federal Government this long to place the advertisement for academic staff, how long will it take to place that of the non-academic staff?
Some enlightened minds in the region have also queried that if the government could spend these long period of time recruiting academic and non-academic staff, when will they start the admission process bearing in mind that the academic calendar has kick-started since October 2017?
From the above issues raised, it is our objective view that the Federal Government should take the following steps which will help douse the tension created by this communication gap.
It is also our opinion that in acting, the Federal Government should be sincere, open and firm as inaction may force the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other groups to take up their arms and disrupt the relative peace as currently enjoyed in the Niger Delta region.
Part of these expected actions on the part of the Federal Government may include but not limited to – Proper information management that will keep stakeholders and the community in particular updated, as hoarding of information creates suspicion and heightens tension between the host community and the government.
In the same manner, since doubt is already created, it will be in the best interest of the government to do everything within its reach to ensure the commencement of academic activities within this academic session in order to gain the peoples’ trust which is the greatest ingredient in leadership.
While the people await the full commencement of academic activities, it will not be out of place if the Federal Government releases the needed take-off grant as promised so that the school environment will be put in shape as it will add up in restoring the peoples’ confidence.
In the same token, for the government to prove its sincerity, it will be gratifying if the Federal Government should carry out both the recruitment of staff as well as the admission of students simultaneously in order to bridge wasted time.
On the part of the community, they should continue to provide the needed support vis-a-vis free community service and provision of the enabling environment that enhances the smooth take-off as well as the continued operation of the school.