Still a Far Cry


Nigeria needs 50, 000 seafarers in the next 10 years to strengthen its maritime sector but the federal government has failed to plan ahead

|  By Pita Ochai  |  Feb. 25, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

FOR Nigeria to be effective in the maritime sector it must be able to produce more than 50,000 seafarers which are needed in the next 10 years. But this is most unlikely because the training programme for seafarers is not going in the right direction. The existing Maritime Academy, Oron, has very limited capacity for the training of seafarers.

To train more seafarers for the maritime industry, the federal government had decided to establish the nation’s second maritime academy in Topo, Badagry, in Lagos State, some years back. As at today, the academy is yet to commence operation. The academy has no site. The Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, ASCON, where it was temporally located has given it quit notice.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, which was bankrolling the project has been ordered by ASCON to take the academy elsewhere because it has concluded plans to take over the premises it gave NIMASA in 2007 for the Badagry Maritime Academy. ASCON is said to be unhappy with NIMSA over the neglect of the temporary site of the maritime academy.

Six years after ASCON handed over the training ground to NIMASA, the premises has now been overtaken by weeds. The few buildings that NIMASA hurriedly built are now sandwiched by tall grasses. Officials of ASCON were not willing to talk, but a security man at the gate, who wishes anonymity, confirmed that some officials of NIMASA were at the site last year on an inspection visit. Since then, nothing has happened. “The fact is that no one can say that there is a school there anymore because there is no presence of life in the place,” he stated.

From investigations, NIMASA in 2012 budgeted N1 billion for the Badagry maritime academy, but it is doubtful whether the vote was utilised. In 2007, records from NIMASA showed that about N250 million had been expended on the project. Ade Dosunmu, the former director-general of NIMASA, said at that time that the money was from the Education Trust Fund, ETF. He admitted that N300 miilion was released by ETF that year after a presidential order by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Badagry maritime academy project was initiated by Dosunmu. His aim then was to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of seafarers in the Nigerian maritime sector. The inability of the second maritime academy to start operation is a serious setback for the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme.

That notwithstanding, NIMASA said it is still committed to the establishment of more maritime academies in the country. According to it, more academies would address the current challenge of acute shortage of qualified seafarers in the country. Echoing the same view point, the public affairs unit of the agency, said NIMASA is doing everything possible to ensure that many young Nigerians are trained within the shortest possible time. Currently, the agency is training some young Nigerians in Universities in India, Scotland and other European countries with counterpart funding from some state governments.

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