Last month the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers & Water Transport Senior Staff Association raised an alarm that certificates issued by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to Nigerian seafarers are not recognised globally.
The duo of the association’s National President, Comrade Matthew Alalade and the Assistant Secretary General, Comrade John Okpono, said that the certificates issued to Nigerian seafarers by the nation’s apex maritime regulatory body are only tenable in the nation’s coastal waters.
They said that there are a lot of qualified Nigerian seafarers, but that they are unable to sail due to the certificates that cannot take them across the oceans.
They lamented that brain drain, which according to them is currently been experienced in the country in respect of seafarers is as a result of government inability through NIMASA to provide an enabling environment for seafarers.
In their words: “We have a lot of Nigerians working overseas but the reason is that the environment is not conducive, if it is, you will see them working here. There is no brain drain, what will need is the conducive environment. We have a lot of seafarers but the certificates must be in tandem to what is obtainable globally. Our certificates are restricted to Nigeria, they only issue near coastal certificates compared to what is issued in Ghana and the United Kingdom, which cannot even take you to the high sea.”
Stakeholders have said it severally that the certificates of the countries maritime academics including those of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron in Akwa Ibom State, a Federal Government-established institution are not recognised by employers worldwide.
The position had equally been that our maritime academics do not have the qualified personnel to train seafarers in line with global standards.
It is worrisome to note that the problem of the Nigerian seafarers is far from being solved and that is why you see Nigerian youths going overseas to acquire foreign certificates so that they become employable.
This is sad, because the situation points to the fact that something is fundamentally wrong with the Nigerian maritime education system and our maritime administration.
Government mus,t therefore, address these lapses if the country’s maritime industry must be position for greater efficiency and reduce capital flight.
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