What is responsible for the high rate of unemployment among Nigerian seafarers?

 Capt Abel Ogah (Retired Navy Officer)

The causes of unemployment among seafarers are enormous: they include lack of merchant fleet, bad leadership in the maritime industry, especially putting square pegs in round holes. There is a high level rivalry among maritime stakeholders, lack of defined maritime policy, and lack of political will to make things work in line with global best practice. Other causes of unemployment include:  corruption, lack of standard maritime training institutions resulting in mushroom ones, insecurity in the water ways and ports, underutilization of other ports in Nigeria, greed of few ship owners, failure by NIMASA to domesticate some International Conventions and implement them, ignorance to leverage on investment opportunities available to individuals in Nigeria being a maritime nation. 

Engr Reginald Oyemnobi (Vice President, Merchant Navy Senior Staff)

Unemployment of seafarers is a global issue, the problem in Nigeria is that majority of those that are not employed are not employable, 70% of them are not employable, in Lagos area alone, we have over eight maritime institutions that are not accredited by NIMASA and National Board for Technical Education, especially in nautical and marine engineering, you might be accredited in marketing, computer, and shipping courses, and be training students who also pass out as seafarers and flood everywhere. I am not saying that there is no unemployment, but in Nigeria, there are too many mushroom academies.  

 Eedris Okanlawon (Seafarer)

 Inadequacies of ship owners and unfavourable reforms of the government is the stricken force against unemployment among Nigerians seafarers.

Also, the agency which is supposed to help seafarers for training and also protect them in securing jobs in the shores of the country has practically forgotten their jobs. Instead, they are now working against Nigerian seafarers. 

This is happening in the sense that the Cabotage law is not properly embraced; some vessels operating on the Nigerians waters don't fly the Nigerian flag as their registry, let alone having 75% of their crews as Nigerians.  

John Okpono (Seafarer)

When you pass out of an academy, you have not yet completed your sea term and you are claiming not to be employed, when you graduate from university without NYSC, can you be employed? 90% of those claiming they don't have jobs are those who have passed out from various institutions either accredited or not, and they are looking for sea term.  

Dr. Babatunde Samuel (Registrar, POTEMA) 

I believe that the unemployment of Nigerian seafarers have to do with many factors; the major among them is knowledge gap among seafarers as they received training activities through different institutions with different curriculum and method of applying their teachings. The second factor to blame is the inability to effect sea time training for practical experience as mandated by regulatory authorities. We can also say the unemployment is largely due to non-availability of Nigerians owning vessels to engage our seafarers.

Captain Tajudeen Alao(President, Master Mariners)

What you don’t have, you cannot give, the ships are laid-off, and they are not employed. If the maritime activities, talking about offshore are booming, there would be engagement and then seafarers will get jobs. We have to start looking for full collaboration with foreign management for them to be engaged. They don’t have good training and certification which can enable them to start looking for jobs outside Nigeria. Last year was not too good for our people because the industry was not good in terms of jobs and all that. All these seafarers need to be trained, so that they can get jobs outside. If activities in the industry improve, seafarers will be engaged. 

Dr. Reuben Ovia (Rector, Stars Maritime Academy)

How many vessels are coming in and how many Nigerians have been able to acquire vessels? Are they going to work on ordinary water? We need platforms to work on. With the economic situation in Nigeria, who is thinking of investing in the country? The facts are very open and glaring; moreover multinationals are leaving the shores of the nation. Another sector that used to absorb the seafarers is the oil sector and most of the investors are leaving the shores of Nigeria. So where do you expect the employment to come in?  

Barrister Valentino Buoro (Maritime Lawyer)

It is a very simple and straight forward answer, when there is unavailability of local ships, there cannot be employment for seafarers because national lines are supposed to take care of their own indigenous seafarers. Every country that runs indigenous shipping   is most likely to employ its own indigenes or most likely go for places where they have a very cheap labour. Having very cheap labour might be a factor of excess availability of manpower and I don’t think Nigeria has excess availability of manpower to give out at such low cost. So what is open for us is to develop our own shipping lines and be able to employ our own indigenous manpower.

Barrister Emeka Akabugo (Maritime Lawyer)

The reason is that there are no adequate ships for them to ply their trades and so the ships which are available to Nigeria waters are harnessed to take care of essential number of seafarers. What needs to be done is that there must be that cooperation to harness all the ships on Nigeria waters and we look for partnership with other countries. 

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