Complaints over inadequate manpower by stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry have been resounding persistently for several years, with every other operator tending to proffer one solution or the other.
However, the validity of the angst over state of maritime manpower in Nigeria is rendered somewhat vacuous following a presentation by the Head of Africa (Anglophone) Section, Technical Cooperation Division, International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr. William Azuh, at the just-concluded second edition of the Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX) held in Lagos.
Azuh’s paper titled International Shipping as a Tool for Sustainable Development revealed that Nigeria is among the countries with the highest number of graduates from the World Maritime University (WMU), Malmo, Sweden.
According to Azuh, Nigeria equally ranks second in the number of graduates from the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI), Malta.
From a total of 3,241 students, which the WMU has graduated since inception from 163 countries, Nigeria has a total of 122,coming third after China and the Philippines, which have 623 and 123,respectively.
Other countries among the 10 countries with the highest number of graduates from the WMU include India, 107; Indonesia, 99; Viet Nam, 89; Iran, 83; Bangladesh, 75; Ghana, 73; and Tanzania, 68.
Of the total number of graduates from the IMLI since its establishment, Nigeria has 54 out of the 534 graduates from 121 countries.
Nigeria is coming behind Malta that has 63 graduates from IMLI.
Algeria, Angola, China and Kenya have 12 graduates each, while Ghana, Tanzania and Sri Lanka have 10 graduates each.
Azuh lamented that Nigeria has been unable to tap into the intellectual capacity of these graduates for the development of the maritime sector.
Noting that most of the WMU graduates are beneficiaries of government scholarship, he said that government has been unable to put them to proper use.
Azuh noted that Nigeria has no business complaining about inadequate skilled manpower in the maritime industry with the number of graduates from these global institutions.
Azuh said: “What use have the graduates been put to? Where are they? Why are we still where we are today? And we are talking about tapping our maritime potentials. First and foremost the policy must change. How can we invest so much in these international training institutions and when they return you post them to departments and ministries that absolute have nothing to do with trainings. Why don’t we from all the 122 graduates create a data base and see how we can utilise them?”
From Azuh’s presentation and the questions he posed, one may ask, Why the cry over in adequate human capacity in Nigerian maritime industry?
This is the question every stakeholder including the Federal Ministry of Transport and government agencies in the maritime sector saddled with the development of human capacity must answer.
If truly Nigeria has these graduates, as presented by Azuh, where are they and how has the government utilised their acquired skills from these training institutions for the development of the sector?
The other area where stakeholders have cried woe is in the area of seafarers, but we beg to disagree in this area because last year at the United Nation’s Day of the Seafarer, which was celebrated in Nigeria at the Onikan Stadium in Lagos, the venue was packed full of able-bodied seamen who are wasting away.
The issue is not that of the availability of these seafarers but that of competency.
Annually, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, churns out a lot of students as graduates and admits new ones, but where are these graduates?
The argument has been that these students are not competent i.e they are unemployable. But if truly they are, then something must is wrong with the nation’s maritime education system which must be corrected.
The government must, therefore, brace up to the challenge and address the issue of competency, because the country has a lot of graduates from these maritime training institutions that can be employed to address the current situation.
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