By Ajibola Abayomi,
September 24, 2018.
The budgetary allocation set aside for seafarer training in the finances of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) are not being utilized for the purpose it was meant for, the seafarers cadet have alleged.
While calling for urgent attention on that, on Monday several cadets of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) anchored by the NIMASA protested non- seatime training at the office of the agency in Lagos
As early as 7 am, the protesters barricaded the office insisting that they would occupy NIMASA building for one week until their demands were met.
The seatime is a mandatory scheme for the cadet to be employed by shipping companies.
Led by one Mr Onyankeke Sunday Adarigho, the cadets numbering over 50 said they had completed their three years programme without the seatime training.
Adarigho explained that for three years, they had waited for NIMASA without training time.
“We came fully prepared. We came with food and three buses and we will not leave here until we get a favouorable answer from NIMASA”, he said.
“Same students that were sent to PIMSAT were later transferred to perpetual yet the agency claims to have students in PIMSAT and in Perpetual.
“NIMASA never sent students to Netherlands. Year after year they’ve been claiming funds for our sea time training, yet nothing has been done, they succeeded in training 150 cadets in three years and they’ve turned down over 1000 bed spaces from different shipping companies and countries over the year.
“Our fate now is hanging in ballance yet on yearly bases budget is being passed for our training”.
Some of the placards read: “NIMASA Half Education is Dangerous Especially in Maritime. NIMASA. We Need Our BSC. Pay Us Off”.
When contacted the Deputy Director, Public Communications and Strategy, NIMASA, Mr Isichei Osamgbi said NIMASA has been sending cadets for sea time training in phases.
Osamgbi said the agency had not neglected the cadets pledging that those who were to have sea time training programme would be attended to.
According to him, he said that the training has to be in phases considering the number of cadets involved.
It would be recalled that the Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services of NIMASA, Mr Ibrahim Jubril had few months ago said 700 cadets would be given sea time training before the end of the year.
He disclosed that 89 cadets had been sent to UK for sea time training while another 150 were sent to Egypt.
However, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside later in the assured of the Agency’s commitment to ensuring that all beneficiaries of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) conclude their programme by getting the mandatory sea-time training.
The DG who stated this when he addressed a group of NSDP beneficiaries who came to the head office of the Agency to express concerns over the certainty of them getting the sea-time training, noted that NIMASA is doing all it can to ensure all those who graduated in the scheme are duly enrolled on ocean-going vessels within the shortest possible time.
He also assured that in addition to the over 600 Cadets who have benefitted so far from the sea time training, the Agency is working so hard to ensure that another batch of not less than 200 Cadets are enrolled between now and the first quarter of 2019.
“Sea-time training is your right and i assure you that none of you will be denied the mandatory sea-time training. On our part as an Agency, we value human capacity development, which is the hallmark of any economy that will thrive; hence we will not rest on our oars until we see you succeed”, the DG said.
Speaking further, Dr. Dakuku informed them that the Agency is in discussions with some foreign institutions to place seafarers on board ocean-going vessels and that in no distant time more cadets will be placed on board for their sea-time training.
Dr. Dakuku who also used the opportunity to commend the contribution of seafarers to the growth of the economy, expressed confidence that in no distant time, Nigeria will be a great exporter of seafarers on the African continent.
“We are not training you to be placed onboard Cabotage vessels for only local trade; but rather, we are investing so much on you so that you can be placed onboard ocean-going vessels, which will put you on the same pedestal with your counterparts in the global maritime community, thereby giving you an edge to compete favourably”, he said.
The Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme was conceived in 2008 as a deliberate policy to ameliorate the dearth in certified and qualified seafarers and of course the depletion of seafarers in our national pool due mainly to age and migratory instinct for greener pastures by seafarers.
The NSDP scheme was flagged-off in September, 2009 to complement full implementation of the Cabotage Act, 2003, which in itself is geared towards strengthening indigenous tonnage capacity with one of its cardinal objectives being that coastal vessels are to be exclusively manned by Nigerians.
The dearth in certified and qualified seafarers in Nigeria was a poignant reminder and a wake-up call for the Agency, the NSDP scheme has not looked back since September, 2009.