The House committee on Marine Transport has urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to expand the capacity of the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) to accommodate more Nigerians.
The NSDP is a capacity building programme to set up to develop a pool of Nigerian seafarers. About 2,500 cadets are currently being trained in various maritime institutions in USA, UK, Philippines, Ukraine and Egypt under the programme.
Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport, Honourable Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, said that more Nigerians should be integrated into the programme, given its potentials to create wealth and eradicate unemployment in the country.
Ugwuayi, who expressed this opinion in Manila, Philippines, where he led members of the committee to see Nigerian cadets being trained in the country, particularly made a strong case for the cadets at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron.
He asked the agency, which he lauded for doing a great job, to give the cadets an opportunity to have sea-time experience under the seafarers programme.
“There is no doubt that NIMASA is doing well but there is need to give those chaps at MAN, Oron who are not as privileged as those studying abroad under the NSDP but have the basic training, there is need to accommodate them in this programme,” Ugwuayi said.
He observed that there are so many cadets in MAN, Oron who have not had the necessary sea-time experience to complement their theoretical knowledge.
The lawmaker also reiterated the need for NIMASA to acquire a training vessel that would be used to give the cadets in Nigeria the mandatory sea-time experience, adding that it was the intervention of the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) at the request of the committee during its visit to Liverpool, London that afforded the Nigerian cadets training abroad to have the privilege of having sea-time training integrated into their study.
He said that the committee had earlier impressed upon the management of NIMASA the need to acquire a training ship that could also be used by Navy and other related institutions which will add value to MAN, Oron and other institutions while NIMASA would be its custodian and operator.
Ifeanyi promised that the lawmakers would gladly and quickly approve the request in the NIMASA budget due to its importance to the development of the new crop of sea farers in the country.
“You can’t work in a ship when you don’t have the sea-time experience. It is just like you want to be a computer specialist when you have not seen a computer. This is the area we are interested in as legislators, do your work and we shall do our own,” the lawmaker said.
He added: “We are happy that we are here in the Philippines. We are also happy that most of our students are here. But what is the number of people here compared with the numbers of people who would have ordinarily wanted to be part of the programme? So while we are praising NIMASA, we also want to use the opportunity to tell NIMASA to expand the scope of the programme so that it can accommodate more people.” He said he had challenged the authority of Philippines that Nigeria is not just in their country to under study their success in seafaring but is ready to surpass them.
The NSDP initiative, he said, “has the capacity to generate enormous revenue for government.” “Look at the Philipino seafarers who are abroad and contribute about N9billion annually to their country. These maritime institutions where we train our cadets, we are in University of Lagos, UNN, Niger-Delta university and IBB university and of course in MAN, Oron. We are also in Philippines, Egypt, India, Liverpool, I think we are on our way.” Ugwuanyi said.
Ugwuanyi also urged the Federal Government to decentralise the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, for effective performance.
He said there was need for the maritime training institution in Nigeria to adopt a multi-campus system that will see to the establishment of its branches in some other relevant states.
The institution was cited in Oron, Akwa-Ibom State in 1977.
He promise that his Committee could help to facilitate the process through a proposal for the amendment of the status setting up the institution, if desired.