In 2008, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) launched the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP). The NSDP is a scholarship scheme aimed at creating employment for Nigerian youths and developing competent manpower for the shipping sector.
About 150 students from various states in the country are currently in different countries studying maritime programmes and disciplines.
However, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) located in Oron, Akwa Ibom State was not and is still among the institutions that are used for the NSDP training even though it is the same NIMASA that funds the Academy and even certifies its students upon completion of their training.
Established essentially to provide maritime training and formerly known as the Nautical College of Nigeria, the Academy was established in 1979 by the Federal Executive Conclusion No. EC. (77) 172. It was designed as an integrated institution for the education and training of shipboard officers and ratings shore-based management personnel.
The Academy graduated its first batch of cadets in 1983.
In 1988, the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida raised the status of the college via the promulgation of Decree No. 16 of 1988 with a statutory mandate to train all levels and categories of personnel required for the effective and efficient operation of all facets of the Nigerian maritime industry.
The Academy has, at the core of its mission statement, “the provision of qualitative education and training that meet national and international standards and satisfy end-user expectations.”
Unfortunately, however, it has failed in delivering on this mission in the last three decades.
While there are several accomplished seafarers and master mariners who have passed through MAN, Oron in the course of their trainings, most of them had to augment the trainings they received at home with further trainings abroad while those who are unable to afford the cost of travelling abroad for further trainings end up in the labour market, as they are mostly seen as half-baked, thus not attracting any meaningful engagement in the shipping sector.
It is on record that many graduates of the Academy still have to attend the Regional Maritime Academy (now Regional Maritime University) in Ghana or even undertake further trainings in respected maritime institutions in countries like Egypt, India or even the United Kingdom before they can be issued with certificates of competency without which they will not be accorded global recognition as professional mariners.
In a nutshell, MAN, Oron has failed to train Nigerian seafarers in line with international standards after over 30 years of existence.
The Academy has failed Nigeria and Nigerians.
It is, however, instructive to note the failure of the Academy is the failure of not only its leadership, but of a failure nurture by certain interests who wish to see the institution dead and buried, simply to serve their parochial interests.
With purposeful and innovative leadership, MAN, Oron can partner with leading global maritime training institutions to ensure that all noticeable lapses and shortcomings in its operations are corrected.
The Academy will continue to suffer stunted growth if a certain section of the country sees it as its own share of the national cake and continues to claim territoriality over it rather than open it up for development.
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