Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, stated this yesterday at the ongoing Maritime Capacity Building programme for maritime journalists holding at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
Akpobolokemi said that not less than $6 billion (N960 billion) is lost annually to foreign seafarers as a result of the gap in maritime manpower in the country.
“It has been argued that Nigeria loses as estimated $3 billion annually to foreign seafarers. If you add the remuneration of other foreigners in the shipping and logistics chain, we would probably be talking of losing about double this amount. The implication of retaining about $6 billion in the country annually cannot be underestimated. The standard of living will improve considerably with the attendant vices occasioned with unemployment minimized. This can only happen if we have the right professionals to do the job,” Akpobolokemi, who was represented by the Deputy Director Public Relations of the agency, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi, said.
The NIMASA boss said that apart from savings, capacity development in the maritime industry will also generate a lot of income from seafarers who are trained to work abroad.
“The Asian tigers are a good case in point. Reports have it that out of over $16 billion remittances into the Philippines by the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFN), over $7 billion is generated by the Filipino seafarers. If the Nigerian seafarer working overseas can attract this much into Nigeria, it will have a positive impact on the nation’s real GDP,” he said.
He said that in addition to supporting the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, NIMASA is establishing more maritime training institutions in the country to create a strong pool of seafarers.
“The Philippines have not been able to achieve this feat using one maritime academy or pockets of sponsorships abroad. The Philippines have an educational infrastructure of about 90 maritime schools graduating an estimated number of 40,000 seafarers annually. This explains why 20% of global seafarers are from Philippines translating to one in every 5 seafarers aboard a vessel being a Filipino,” he said.
Akpobolokemi said apart from the Maritime University being established at Okerenkoko in Delta State; NIMASA has committed resources to the establishment of Institutes of Maritime Studies in four Nigerian universities namely the University of Lagos; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Niger Delta University, Amasoma, Bayelsa State and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State.
The NIMASA boss also said that about 2,500 Nigerians drawn from various states of the federation are benefitting from the Nigeria Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) which is an intervention programme created by the agency in 2008 to bridge the manpower gap occasioned by the dearth of seafarers in the country.
Speaking earlier in his welcome address, President of the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN), Mr. Bolaji Akinola, said that the essence of the Maritime Capacity Building programme is to train maritime journalists to do their jobs better.
“This training will help us educate Nigerians about the shipping sector from an informed perspective. It will help us report the shipping sector from an angle of knowledge,” Akinola stated.