Capt. Saib Olopoenia, President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), on Thursday urged the Federal Government to overhaul the curricular of the nation’s maritime training institutes to meet global standards.
Olopoenia made the appeal in interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He said that emphasis should focused on equipping the Cadets’ National Maritime Institutes, contrary to the current clamour for the establishment of more maritime schools.
“You will agree that creating the schools is not the issue but demand for quality as is expected internationally.
“The knowledge and practical experience gained will be used internationally, so, the training must take that into consideration,” Olopoenia said.
He said that the contributions of the maritime sector to the national economy had made it imperative for the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, to be upgraded to international standard.
He said this had become necessary in spite of the new maritime schools established by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
NAN reports that NIMASA recently established a Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta, in addition to other privately-owned maritime academies across the nation.
Also speaking with NAN, Capt. Dennis Osah, a former President of the association, noted that seafarers must be offered quality training.
Osah said that in addition to quality training for maritime students, government must also make a conscious effort to create employment opportunities for the cadets.
“As the schools are established, they should ensure the cadets get full training with sea-time. Jobs should be created too, having in mind that there is no national carrier.”
The immediate past President of the association, Capt. Jimi Adu, told NAN that NIMASA should be given the benefit of the doubt for quality training in the new maritime schools since they had the capacity to finance them.
He also expressed concern about the current capacity of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, stressing that the academy needed total overhaul to meet the demands of international maritime community.
“NIMASA can finance the establishment of more maritime schools and even get quality teachers to train the students, so, I will give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
“But it is worrisome to see that the Maritime Academy in Oron has not made any remarkable improvement in terms of facilities to train the cadets.
“There are no sea-going vessels where these cadets can easily be trained because the standard training must involve sea-time.
“I am still of the opinion that firms with sea-going facilities for the training of these cadets can be given tax holidays for them to train a given number of cadets regularly,” he said.
Adu also decried the challenge of qualitative training for cadets in the industry, pointing out that there might be succession difficulties following the por quality training they were receiving.
“It is sad to see engineering students on industrial training carrying files about in offices when they should be going through practical training.
“After now, who will build the bridges, the houses and navigate the vessels?”.
The master mariner said that international maritime trade and general economic growth was hinged on human capacity development and urged the maritime training schools to uphold international standard.