By Chidubem Anthony
Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has flayed the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) initiated by the Federal Government in 2009 for the training of cadets abroad as wasteful, unpatriotic and the reason the local maritime institution and cadet trainer has remained underdeveloped.
The foreign training, which took off in January 2011, has been a major campaign plus of the current leadership of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which has taken a lot of credit for growing the number of trainees from less than 1,000 in 2015 to about 2,500 within three years.
NIMASA disclosed that it has so far spent N20 billion on training fees, allowances and learning materials for these cadets in such institutions as John Moores University, Liverpool, South Tyneside College, Newcastle (both in the United Kingdom), and Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Alexandra, Egypt.
Concerned at the training cost and his assessed consequences on the local trainer, however, Amaechi said recently during the graduation ceremony at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, that foreign training for cadets partly led to the institution’s stunted growth, and for which reason he has not approved any since he assumed office in 2015.
In a disclosure that raises curiosity about how NIMASA has continued to fund the programme, Amaechi said: “NIMASA has written to me and I said no, they should hold on. I wanted to do it last month but I didn’t because the reason MAN Oron is not progressing is because we are able to send people overseas and after training they come back to join the unemployment queue.
“Nigeria should have the same type of institution we are sending our people to; if we stop people from being trained overseas, they will ensure that this place (MAN, Oron) is improved upon.”
Lamenting that MAN and the ones in Egypt and Ghana were established about the same time, Amaechi added: “What we lack is organisation and leadership. Recognition is being able to compete with Egypt, Singapore and the rest. What Philippine does is to export seafarers globally, and that is their own economy.“We can’t even create seafarers for our own maritime industry let alone export. Our maritime industry is weak because everyone focuses on oil when there are countries that focus mainly on maritime.”