Aleakhue John (Asst. Sec. Gen, Merchant Navy)
The Nigeria of yesterday is not the Nigeria of today, because throughout the whole country there is corruption and talking about fake certification, Nigeria is a place were we depend on certificates and when you do that without looking at the person’s prospects, they can go extra miles just to get that certificate. Now in the maritime industry they said you much have the Certificate of Competence and the entire mandatory before you are given a place on the vessel and yet you need a job and you are not privileged to have been to Oron or Ghana but the job is at hand. Such persons will go to the authority concerned and get a certificate that is not computerized and nobody can verify it because the serial and batch number do not exist.
I think there should be a way of checking documents and the security should be guaranteed and I also want to say that age matters a lot when it comes to recruiting people to work in agencies and departments in charge of monitoring and issuing certificates because the young ones are too money conscious and they don’t have conscience, such positions should be given to mature persons.
Let me say that it will be good to stretch out the value for the good ones because it will go a long way to help us because it is until we separate the rift from the shaft before seafarers are rate higher and the salary becomes standardized.
Major H.A. Ajetunmobi (GM, Sifax)
We have to take a second look at the regulatory agencies because government has in its wisdom put in place structures and institutions that will check such unwholesome practices and also to regulate the industry so one will have to take a second look at how well and how thorough such agencies are doing their job. But then, it will also not be too surprising to look at it from another angle in the sense that there are fraudsters every where and there is no particular trade or profession that is sacrosanct and exempted from it, if fakes can be working on the American dollar l, then we should assume that anything is possible.
I think government and the relevant agencies should intervene in the situation and put in place checks and balances to correct it, I will not want to blame anyone but let’s just say that there are lacunas and gaps in our structure that some smart alecs have taken advantage of and that is the whole essence of constant review. When any law or regulation is enacted, they are adequate for the time for which they are made because experiences and the sophistication of crime across the world have shown that some of these provisions are no longer enough to curb the existing sharp practices.
We will be moving forward if we look at it from that angle rather than blame anybody, trading blames will generate more heat than light.
Friday Essien (Water Transportant)
I think money is the main cause of the problem, it takes not less than N150, 00 to N200,000 to get these documents, and getting it is not here in Nigeria, the certified school for that document is in Ghana. I am aware that we have the nautical college in Oron and we also have the Institute of Oceanography, but most companies prefer that of Ghana because they believe that of Oron is not up to date and for you to go there you need capital.
What I think is that they should try and bring the college in Oron up to standard to be the same with others because it is the certificates from Ghana that these people get from their friends that might have been there and they clone it, the name becomes different but all other things remain intact as it is on the system of the school in Ghana and the company employing these seafarers does not take the pain to cross check.
Comrade Umar Jimoh (President, NPA Senior Staff Association)
We call them fake because they are not recognized by law but let me say that professionals can not be rendered idle. You and I know what it takes to be a seafarer, and the training the person must have undergone, so anyone of them without certificate must survive and they do anything in the process of survival which we term as illegal. I will not call them fake but illegal seafarers.
It is quite unfortunate that the Cabotage law in this country is not working as expected, foreigners are still owners of the vessels and they are the main employers of Nigerian seafarers, but by the time they send their own people to nautical schools to be trained, they now sack the ones they have before.
Also, Nigerians are not into ship acquisition and what you don’t have you can’t give, you cannot give employment to these seafarers on a vessel that is not your own, if the Cabotage law is functioning and the government is giving financial support to operators in order to acquire vessels, it will reduce the problem because another cause of this problem is the closure of the national shipping line which is the largest employer of seafarers,. These seafarers are still alive and they must continue to survive.
We should have respect for the plight of other maritime stakeholders; we should not call them fake but look for a way of absorbing them because they are professionals too. What these people really need to do is to come together under one association of their own so that they can fight the cause together and make their voice heard by the government.
Mr. Preye Elijah (Seaman)
The maritime industry in Nigeria is more pronounced now in terms of certification of seafarers because of STCW and that is why we are hearing this. I can assure you that after that exercise goes down a bit nobody cares again. We must also know that faking of certificates is not only in maritime industry, it cuts across all other sectors too, we have ghost workers everywhere holding certificates that is not tenable any were.
Again, why it is so in the maritime sector is because the certificate from Oron is not recognized, everybody is talking about Ghana and the credentials from there can be got and forged because the company employing you does not verify it, once you know the job, they are just too happy that you are doing it for pea nuts while maybe another genuine seafarer is demanding a huge sum. So these are some of the problems, we are all Nigerians and we must survive.