Engr Nnadi Ogbuagu (Director General, NISA)
The Federal Government needs to acquire more flag ships. The international convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping (STCW '95) allows each flag to employ their seafarers on their ships only. However, a flag can employ seafarers of other flag state only on bilateral arrangement, that is, endorsement of Certificate of Competency (CoC) or through issuance of certificate of equivalence. Without our own flag vessels, employability of our seafarers will be a mirage and a ruse. Capt Taiwo Akinpelumi (Ship Owner)
Concerted efforts should be made towards a well articulated programme of trainings, examination and certification for Nigerian seafarers, as well as the development and steady growth of our shipping capacity which will enhance increase in our national fleet.
Capt James Falabi (Maritime Security Expert)
It is absurd that the reactive management style of the apex agency, NIMASA cannot proffer solutions to the current unemployment plaguing the marine sector of the economy. It is no news that there is shortage of qualified marine officers throughout the world, hence the few qualified Nigerians are currently engaged somewhere else.
Also, the remuneration offered to Nigerian seamen is not equivalent to their foreign counterparts when they pick up employment locally, so the few qualified professionals preferred jobs outside the shores of Nigeria. There is no opposition to the Cabotage waivers, but the waiver fee should be enough to provide training for two existing seamen's upgrading into that particular post. The NIMASA Act supports the training of existing seafarers, not militants that the agency cannot engage. Moreover, if the agency engages more professionals in the administration, there would be commitments and proactive approach to issues.
Chris Sadol (Stars Maritime Academy)
The workability of Nigerian seafarers can be increased through the establishment of a national shipping line and also providing enabling environment for effective maritime operations. We are talking of an environment that is not politically and economically biased.
Mr. John Egesi (Ex-NMA DG)
Training without proper sea time is bad; we are in a bit of dilemma, the country pushes along the line of being a seafaring nation, but we are not. When you train people you do that for your own industrial development. After the training, there should be an industrial development and also a value for that industry. So these boys are trained, whether they are trained to manipulate and pilot tug boats and all that, even at that unless we are training to export them. Others are training for their own trade; we could target countries where their children don’t want to go to the sea like England, Germany and all that. They have reached a certain level of development that they can afford to let others guide their vessels. The issue is not so much about improving certification because improvement of the certificates depends on having a time at sea. There have to be some arrangement, I don’t know if NIMASA can do that to help us tell some ship owners to allow two or three of our cadets on board their ships for sea time training. And when you give them sea time they will know all the rules and regulations and this will boost their certification these are very important.
Engr Matthew Alalade (President, Merchant Navy)
The certification of our seafarers is already improved; you know seafaring is a global thing, countries like Ghana, has separated their schools so that they can issue foreign based certificates. Let the federal government upgrade our schools here, so that they can start issuing Certificates of Competency, the certificates should be international. That is what they require from us so that our seafarers can ply the waters, it is an international job. Some Nigerians are going abroad for more education so that their certificates will be recognized abroad. But the fact is this, when they come back, some of them will not like to work here because they are not comfortable with the salaries that are obtained here. That is why you see most of them leaving the country because the job is not favorable for some of them.
John Okpono (Deputy Sec, Merchant Navy)
The starting point is for government to provide sea time training, this means that seafarers must have the opportunity to serve on board a ship; they must have that, for them to be recognized. The approval for the schools is being given by the federal ministry of education and once the school is approved, automatically, the certificate is valid. For those who are running mandatory courses, it is the sole responsibility of NIMASA for their approval. So, once they are approved, your certificate is automatically valid.
Paul Ndibe (Acting Executive Director, CILT)
The key word is - exposure; there should be sea time exposure for the seafarers. A longer exposure is what we need, because you can’t get experience if there is no exposure and it can only be gotten through sea time. So we should do more to open up sea time period for seafarers.