By Bernard Tolani Dada, Uyo –
The controversial remarks made by the chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Mr. Mohammed Bago, during a recent visit to the
Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron in Akwa Ibom State have generated serious tension among host communities, stakeholders and social commentators.
Mr. Bago whose committee few days ago embarked on inspection visit to the Academy was quoted to have said that the Interim Management Committee set up by the federal government to tentatively oversee affairs in the Academy is illegal and therefore has been dissolved because it has no constitutional backing. “There is nothing like Interim Management Committee as far as this Academy is concerned. It is illegal and therefore ceases to exist…”, Mr. Bago is quoted to have stated in his remarks.
Reacting to the statement made by Bago, Oro Nation Professionals’ Youth Forum said the comments are capable of causing confusion and bad blood against the federal government and members of the Interim Management Committee that already has won the hearts of members of the community and stakeholders.
The group said it was presumptuous of the highly respected federal lawmaker to have arrogated duty to himself in the way he did by blatantly and insolently questioning the discretion and integrity of the Presidency for inaugurating the committee and therefore misguiding many who were in attendance at the briefing.
In a press statement jointly signed by the president of the group, Barr. Etim Daniel and director of Media and Publicity, Prince Victor John on behalf of the group, they said Bago acted in bad faith and spoke carelessly when the circumstance should not have warranted such.
“Soon after Bago had dropped the bombshell, the trust that staff, members of the host communities and stakeholders had in the Interim Management Committee as well as their level of cooperation and support perceptibly dropped, judging by whispers and open comments that trailed Bago’s utterances, and we wonder what the lawmaker really had in mind”, part of the statement stated. It argued that Bago’s utterances lacked logic and sense of patriotism expected of a parliamentarian of his standing.
It added that it was even worse that after making the statement, Bago did not allow for open interactions or reactions from the audience who obviously felt slighted by the comments and would have raised questions for further clarifications. Continuing, the statement contended that “Bago’s comment had grossly undermined, countered and belittled the integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari, the minster of Transportation and the validity or otherwise of the IMC. It was absolutely unnecessary and ill-timed. We therefore demand an apology from Bago to the Presidency, National Assembly, Minister of Transportation, the Akwa Ibom State Government and the immediate communities of the Academy. This perhaps may quell the brewing tension”.
The release said Bago should in his apology state clearly whether his misleading remark was a slip of the tongue, deliberate or a premeditated resolution that represented the collective interest of the entire members of the National Assembly over an Academy that has been an endemic subject of heated discourse.
The group also advised the committee members in general to always endeavour to distance politics, personal feelings and disagreements they may have with government appointees or political opponents from critical matters of general public interest like the situation at the Academy.