The President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Engr. Greg Ogbeifun said the challenges in the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron has affected the productivity of cadets in the academy.
He said the menace had led to mass unemployment as well as the prevalence of fake and ill-trained seafarers.
He disclosed this while speaking on Thursday at the seminar organized by the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN), at Apapa as part of the 2015 International Day of Seafarers. The seminar was tagged, Seafarers in the democratic dispensation: How far have we fared?
He said despite the huge amount of money the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has spent on the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), the country still has an army of unemployable seafarers in the country.
He said, “Nigeria now has an army of half baked unemployment seafarers who are turned out in hundreds from maritime institutions across the country and until recently outside the country.”
Ogbeifun also blamed the unemployability of seafarers to the demise of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).
He said NNSL was a platform that made the training of seafarers meet international standards.
“The demise of NNSL and the consequent loss of opportunity of seatime for cadets and the challenges faced by MAN, Oron to turn out world class and employable seafarers have been blamed for the dwindling fortunes of highly qualified employable Nigeria seafarers.”
“It is hard to believe that Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) once had an international Maritime School and that by the late 1960s, all the harbor crafts including two coal carriers from port Harcourt to Lagos MV Tafawa Balewa” and “MV Enugu” were all fully manned by Nigerians. The buoy laying vessel, “MV Bode Thomas”, the 50 tons capacity floating crane the “Wellington tug”, etc., were all manned by Nigerian seafarers.”
The President of SOAN however asked NIMASA to do more in providing funding and facilities for MAN, Oron.
“The NSDP which has seen many young Nigerians beginning a career in seafaring is a commendable one, but it failed to meet the yearning of the maritime sector for qualified seafarers due to defects in the programme.
“Between the inception of the NSDP and now, a very insignificant number on the cadets trained have become officers. This showed that there is a problem with the program.”
He continued, “It is not enough to send cadets to foreign maritime institutions; concerted efforts must be made to ensure that they have opportunity for seatime to enable them to be properly certified.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Starz Investment Limited also queried why NIMASA would involve themselves in training of seafarers.
“NSDP is a commendable effort. However, it begs the question: Why should the government use its resources to train cadets and mariners that will be employed in other countries?
“Companies operating in the maritime industry meet to participate more in solving this problem as these cadets who are trained will become officers and work on their vessels.”
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