Early morning yesterday some NSDP graduate cadets besieged the headquarters of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Apapa Lagos protesting 3 years of abandonment and lack of sea time by NIMASA since after graduation. The cadets insist they would sleep at NIMASA entrance gate for 7 days to press home their demand. When contacted, the image maker of NIMASA, Mr Isichei Osamgbi said the agency would issue a press statement on the matter later in the day.
Meanwhile the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside has assured of the Agency’s commitment to ensuring that all beneficiaries of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) conclude their programme by getting the mandatory sea-time training.
The DG who stated this when he addressed a group of NSDP beneficiaries who came to the head office of the Agency to express concerns over the certainty of them getting the sea-time training, noted that NIMASA is doing all it can to ensure all those who graduated in the scheme are duly enrolled on ocean-going vessels within the shortest possible time.
He also assured that in addition to the over 600 Cadets who have benefitted so far from the sea time training, the Agency is working so hard to ensure that another batch of not less than 200 Cadets are enrolled between now and the first quarter of 2019.
“Sea-time training is your right and i assure you that none of you will be denied the mandatory sea-time training. On our part as an Agency, we value human capacity development, which is the hallmark of any economy that will thrive; hence we will not rest on our oars until we see you succeed”, the DG said.
Speaking further, Dr. Dakuku informed them that the Agency is in discussions with some foreign institutions to place seafarers on board ocean-going vessels and that in no distant time more cadets will be placed on board for their sea-time training.
Dr. Dakuku who also used the opportunity to commend the contribution of seafarers to the growth of the economy, expressed confidence that in no distant time, Nigeria will be a great exporter of seafarers on the African continent. “We are not training you to be placed onboard Cabotage vessels for only local trade; but rather, we are investing so much on you so that you can be placed onboard ocean-going vessels, which will put you on the same pedestal with your counterparts in the global maritime community, thereby giving you an edge to compete favourably”, he said.
The Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme was conceived in 2008 as a deliberate policy to ameliorate the dearth in certified and qualified seafarers and of course the depletion of seafarers in our national pool due mainly to age and migratory instinct for greener pastures by seafarers. The NSDP scheme was flagged-off in September, 2009 to complement full implementation of the Cabotage Act, 2003, which in itself is geared towards strengthening indigenous tonnage capacity with one of its cardinal objectives being that coastal vessels are to be exclusively manned by Nigerians.
The dearth in certified and qualified seafarers in Nigeria was a poignant reminder and a wake-up call for the Agency, the NSDP scheme has not looked back since September, 2009.
It may be recalled that out of the over 2,000 beneficiaries of the scheme, 340 cadets have already completed their sea-time training. In addition to this, 150 Cadets are undergoing the sea-time in Egypt and another 89 others are in the United Kingdom.