The consistency of focus and genuine heartiness with which the present management of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), under the leadership of the Rector, Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua keeps fulfilling its promises across statutory and ancillary obligations of the Academy is commendable. This has attracted corresponding commentaries and eclectic appreciations from stakeholders and maritime observers.
Monday, July 22, provided yet another opportunity for show of gratitude from beneficiaries of such pragmatic strides when the premier maritime institution organised a seminar for teenage girls in secondary schools within the host communities of the Academy and beyond, as part of its commitments to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The one-day seminar, which was largely interactive, with about 500 students and teachers from seven private and government secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State had a timely and exciting theme which was “Empowering the Girl Child for the 21st Century Nigeria”.
Expectedly, this leitmotif was harnessed by renowned women who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of endeavours and are noticeably passionate about the plight of the girl child.
Commodore Duja Effedua was present at the seminar. He was accompanied by members of his management staff.
Delivering a welcome address at the event, he said the exercise became necessary in order to expose the girl child to certain contemporary and prevalent issues that have adversely affected the personality, dreams, growth and development of young women in our society.
The Rector condemned the retrogressive traditions and tendencies among parents and those who were supposed to be role models who have willingly or unwillingly neglected, marginalised and segregated against the girl child in preference for male children, just to gratify some societal customs. One of such customs was the belief that the life of the girl child should end in the kitchen and other menial preoccupations.
Describing such attitude as illogical, unforgivable, chauvinistic and barbaric in modern society, Commodore Effedua emphasised that the seminar was also aimed at protecting young girls from falling victims to the dangers associated with certain customs, bad decision-making, bad association and other untoward attitudes that can eclipse their dreams and future.
“That was why the Academy decided to engage experts to talk about the girl child. In view of what has been observed to be the case previously, even within the Academy communities, we do not want any irresponsible person to hijack or mortgage the future of these young minds.
“They are our children and the future of this country and the onus is on us to create environment conducive and opportunities for them to realise their peculiar dreams without the slightest biases. The girl child must never be seen as inferior,” he said.
He, therefore, implored the students to pay keen attention to the lectures that were prepared to help them excel in life.
Indeed, there was no question that the scope and content of the seminar was discreetly designed to meet the purpose.
Delivering a paper on “Taking Charge of Your Life: How to Make Decisions in Your Own Best Interest”, a respected journalist, maritime commentator and Editor of The Nigerian Maritime News, Mrs. Ezinne Chinwe Azunna, commended the Academy for investing hugely on what she described as “girl child community service initiative’.
Her paper challenged the girls to know that irrespective of where they were born or the circumstances they currently may find themselves, they had no excuses not to become somebody in life.
She stressed that excellence was no exclusive blessing for any gender, but a common gift imbued in everyone by nature. Reference was made to Goal Number Five of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which, in part, is “to foster gender equality and women empowerment-to know their rights and have confidence to claim them”.
Mrs. Azunna stressed that the paper was specifically developed to help the girl child understand life as a progressive concept; determine their life goals; know how decisions and choices affect the future of the girl child; why the teen girl needs focus and concentration; examples of those who, against all odds, excelled in life; and to have the students have extra-confidence to dare to dream above their limitations.
The high point of her presentation was a short film on how Sharon of Makoko, a young 17-year-old Nigerian female, who was born into a poor home in a slum in Lagos State, became one of the 2018 CNN’s Heroes by her ability to develop software for fish selling.
The second and last paper of the day with the title: “Self-Discovery for Increased Productivity” was presented by a two-time Commissioner for Education and Women Affairs in Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Eunice Thomas.
The paper focused on what goals are and how to achieve them. It exposed members of the audience to reasons some people succeed and while others fail in life as well as offering tips on how the best results could be derived from vision, dreams and action.
She defined a dream as a mere wish, whereas “a goal is a dream with a timeline”. She, however, argued that realising one’s goals in life can never be automatic, but flexibility, persistency or not losing focus no matter the distractions along the way ultimately will bring desired results.
Her paper introduced acronyms such as S-T-AR (Skills-talents-Assets-Resources); SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats); S-M-A-R-T, which implies setting specific, measurable, achievable and realistic goals.
There was the concept of MAGIC (Major, activities, gain, influence and connection). Using the examples of Orlando Serrell and Wright Brothers, the paper concluded that the girl child may never be able to realise her dreams if no effort was made in achieving it.
The outpouring of gratitude by students and teachers of the benefiting schools was further testimonies to the beginning of a new dawn at the Academy.
The Vice-Principal of Royal Comprehensive College Oron said: “It was amazing to see that such a thing could happen in the Academy. The seminar was quite thoughtful. We feel quite important. We lack words to convey all our feelings”.
Helen Bassey, a teacher from Royal Comprehensive College said with exposure that came with the seminar, no girl child in the communities will have any excuse not to hit the sky. “This is the first time we have seen and experienced something like this”.
The teenage students, who are the primary beneficiaries of the seminar, also said they appreciated the gesture.
Esther Williamson and Queeneth of Golden International Schools, Oron, observed that they have been exposed to many things which they never knew. To Esther Iyanam Bassey of Community Secondary School, Eyo-Abasi, Oron and Evelyn Effiong Matthew of Royal Comprehensive College, the seminar has changed their lives and they will live to prove it.
A student of Etiedu International Schools, Felicia Etim Adua and her friend, Joy Okon from National Community Secondary School said they now know what it means to have and set goals in life.
Seven schools participated in the seminar. They were Royal Comprehensive College; Golden International Schools, National Community Secondary School and Etiedu International Schools. Others were Methodist Science College, Community Secondary Schools, Eyo-Abasi and Mary- Hanney Girls’ Schools.
Apart from the rapid infrastructural renaissance witnessed in the Academy in the past one-and-half years, the seminar was one of the proofs that the Commodore Duja Effedua-led administration has also made practicable the culture of corporate citizenship for host communities.
Earlier in March this year, the Academy donated hundreds of seats and desks to the Methodist Boys’ High School Oron and Mary Hanney Girls’ Secondary School in Oron respectively, two of the pioneer and oldest secondary schools in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State.
Again, the Academy has donated set of modern computers to two schools to enhance computer knowledge among students, built and furnished two ICT blocks to house the state-of-the-art equipment; besides having undertaken grading of roads in the communities, provision of more than 600,000 litres of diesel to the General Hospital Iquita Oron as well as sponsorship of sports and cultural events.
Culled From Thenation Newspaper