Matthew Idowu (Crew Manager, Orion Marine Limited)
The future is naturally bright for Nigerian seafarers. But whereas great opportunities exist, we must conscientiously prepare and develop our human capacity for the maritime industry. I am aware that NIMASA is doing a lot now in the area of training; both for crew and officers, I am equally aware that the agency is committed to Cabotage manning compliance which has commenced in earnest and is making more jobs available for Nigerian seafarers.
Also, NIMASA is building partnership with some companies to ensure Nigerian seafarers get access to good training and skill transfer from foreigners who have hitherto remained relevant on our waters. However, such efforts should not just be a flash in the pan. NIMASA must go ahead and draw up a strategic midterm and long term plan for the industry that should outlive the present leadership of NIMASA. The agency should identify the industry's human resource needs in terms of number of officers of different ranks required to fully take over the industry, the training gap that exists with respect to certification and practical sea time etc. and roll all of that into a Strategic Seafarer's Development plan for Nigeria. The journey into the bright future is a long one and is not achieved overnight. But with conscious and determined efforts by all industry players, we can get there.
Umar Omezia Jimoh (Former President, NPA Senior Staff)
The future of the Nigeria seafarers is wide and bright considering the level and scope of maritime growth and development. We need to develop and enhance our institutions in maritime sector, that is, all the institutions including NIMASA, maritime schools, MAN, Oron, Shippers’ Council and so on in the sector should live up to their responsibilities as enshrined in their Acts.
The institutions should also adhere to the international best practices, they should ensure and provide adequate training and retraining to the seafarers to enable them to compete favourably at the labour market internationally. Government should give Cabotage law oxygen to breathe by encouraging indigenous shippers to own merchant vessels through loan provision, thereby providing job opportunities for the seafarers. The welfare of the seafarers should be taken serious and ensure adequate wages and salaries paid to them.
Sampson Chima (Registrar, NIS)
I am of the opinion that the Nigerian Seafarers need to be repositioned. They have been neglected and there is urgent need to acknowledge the role they play in nation building and economic advancement of the country. Philippines export their seafarers and that is a major source of revenue to their economy. Nigerian Government should critically look into the plight of the Seafarers and create opportunities for them.
Engr. Mathew Alalade (President, Merchant Navy Senior Staff)
There is hope for Nigerian seafarers, all what I would tell you is that we would get there, there has been a lull in activities in the maritime sector for several years, it is only now that things are starting to pick up, we pray that it would pick up more than that. Most of our ships are going to neighboring ports to do their businesses, we want them to begin to come here, what they import to the neighboring countries are the cargoes we smuggle through our borders and we as seafarers are losing out on the jobs.
Mr. John Egesi (Ex-NIS President)
Government should be articulate with their developmental policies. If the policy is anti development there is no future for seafarers. The future of seafarers is piled up with the development of the country. Anything about the sea which is mass demand, whether it is personnel development is geared towards the development of the countries itself. When our manufacturing bays are well developed, then there is need for the sea to travel outside Nigeria with its seafarers to other nation and to bring back their products to our country. Now there is an angle to seafaring that we have not mentioned, the development of the air transportation. If the air transportation is moving into major aircraft, there is always a competition between the major modes of transportation. It’s just that Nigerians have not been very imaginative. I don't see the reason why anybody will carry cargo from Port-Harcourt to Lagos by land, if there are proper vessels that can transverse the cargos between Lagos and Port-Harcourt and some hinterland in the west. I watched in the television about 23years ago on the development of the sea coasts. If they see the need to develop the sea for the vessels to be carrying the cargos around there will be need for the seafarers to develop.
Dr Eugene Nweke (EX NAGAFF boss)
The future of our seafarers lies in a properly designed policy for the seafarers. All these ideas of NIMASA 1% given to MAN, Oron does not work, there must be a deliberate designed policy that drives our seafarers. Let us take a leaf from what is happening in Philippine, look at it today, those people don’t have oil but when it comes to seafaring they are the first. And that is their advantage they train people likewise India and Chinese. So what are those policies for the survival and sustenance of seafarers so that they can use it for foreign exchange, we are talking about training professionals. If we have people that have skills and technical know-how, why can’t we be building ships for other countries to buy from us? Why must we allow foreign partners to come and be taking our crude oil and other things available under FOB? So it is a deliberate policy of the government with no political bias. We can bring the people here to train our seafarers.
Mr. John Okpono (Vice Secretary, Merchant Navy)
The problem seafarers have majorly now is unemployment, they don’t have career for now, and the economy is very bad for now. But there is a saying that tomorrow will be better than today, so there is hope for the seafarers, we have seen light at the other side of the tunnel. Like the Western Coordinator has given ultimatum to ship owners that they must ensure that Nigerian seafarers get their position on board vessels except they are not qualified. We have also agreed that the foreigners must go on the basis of the Nigerian local content. All the ratings onboard ships must be Nigerians. The certification is ongoing, the sea time is still there, some have left the country for their sea time and we have another batch. So there is hope for the seafarers. Mr. Paul Ndibe (Acting National Director, CILT)
Well, just like the economy is facing some challenges, there are also some challenges facing the supply and use of the seafarers growing human capacity for our seafarers. The bottom line is Nigeria’s inability to own a ship where these people will develop the capacity. Until we are able to have vessels on which they can train, we would still have these difficulties and this can only be actualized when the government looks more inwards to encourage investors to start building ship with Nigerian flag. Otherwise we will face these difficulties for long and we will lose.