The Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron (AMANO), acknowledges the establishment of Nigeria’s Marine and Blue Economy ministry. We believe this is out of the government’s commitment to pay more attention to the growth of our dear maritime industry.
We equally extend our congratulatory message to the pioneer Minister of
Marine and Blue Economy, his Excellency Oyetola Boyega, on his appointment to head this very important ministry. We are hopeful that the minister will consolidate the reforms made in the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron by our dear Rector Commodore Emmanuel Duja Effedua and extend the same to capacity development, especially in the public service sector within the industry.
AMANO brings together graduates of the prestigious Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, through harnessing its wealth to impact and deliver excellence to the industry through capacity building, advocacy, and supporting policies and programmes of government in the industry.
In line with our goals, we consider this timely to engage with the public on issues affecting our industry to stimulate purposeful discussions at various levels and subsectors to improve the quality of deliberations and outcomes for effective policies and actions.
On this, we make the following statements, observations and recommendations to the public and private sectors:
We have recognised that despite the remarkable transformation achieved at the Maritime Academy in terms of infrastructure and training equipment, the Academy is struggling to attract the needed professionals to meet its obligations.
One of the major challenges is the condition of civil service vis-à-vis the budget available for contract employment, which is insufficient to attract experienced mariners who are required to provide tutorship to the cadets.
AMANO wishes to encourage the Minister to consider special intervention funding that will enable the academy to adequately match professional mariners’ compensation to that of the private sector to attract qualified professionals into the system.
We have observed that the country does not have records of its citizens who have acquired Class 1 licenses under the Nigerian or other foreign administration. The implication is that the country does not know its CAPACITY and GAP. Understanding our manpower capacity/GAP in specialised areas is critical to developing the Marine and Blue Economy.
We call on the Ministry to work with NIMASA and ensure that a quality database backed by law is developed to serve as a source of policy guidance and public information tools that will aid the growth of the maritime industry.
We refer to the laudable steps taken by the leadership of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) around 2013 to bring in at least 60 professional mariners, including class 1 captains and chief engineers. However, subsequent administrations still need to sustain this initiative to ensure succession plans. Those engaged in 2013 have been in a proper placement debate/conflict with the agency, significantly affecting their performance and preventing the Agency from deriving value from the presence.
We understand that even though the agency has carried out significant employment since 2014, the employment did not bring marine professionals as required by IMO to maintain the standard required for the Nigerian Maritime Administration.
We call on the Administration and the Minister to review the gap alongside the last IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) through an independent committee that will recommend actionable steps.
We are equally concerned about a significant decline in “Capacity Vessels” availability to support maritime capacity development. It is important to recognise that seafarers’ training, especially for officers, does not end at the point of acquiring OOW. The officers must be on suitable vessels consistently to achieve a class one certification. This training phase can only be successful when suitable and gainfully employed vessels are available in the industry.
It is one thing to acquire a vessel but another to ensure her gainful employment. Currently, Only the Oil and Gas Maritime Offshore sector which is domiciled inside the maritime industry is providing some considerable number of platforms. However, this sector alone cannot provide all the key elements needed to develop Nigeria’s potential due to the limitation of vessel size and trading areas it presents.
We understand that there are political exigencies in leadership composition within government agencies. However, we encourage those given these opportunities to fully engage with practitioners within the industry to understand the challenges and work out a pathway to developing our potential collectively.
In conclusion, AMANO wishes to resonate a clarion call to other stakeholders both within and outside the industry to support this cause, bearing in mind that the quality of our future generation is as good as the quality of the education given to them. It must go further to provide a platform for professionally trained to support the nation’s growth and development.
A progressing nation must begin discussing developing a blue economy with sustainably employed ships. For a ship to operate sustainably, it must have competent Seafarers, Technical Managers, and highly competent Flag Administration. With these in place, we will attract growth and attain our potential in Blue Economy.
*By Emmanuel Maiguwa Gankino, President, Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron