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Enhancing capacity building in maritime sector


President Goodluck Jonathan  //Image: Wikipedia

President Goodluck Jonathan //Image: Wikipedia





IMMINENT dearth of human capital has been identified as one of the greatest constraints facing Nigeria’s maritime sector.

The Federal Government seems to understand this problem and has always reiterated its commitment to tackle the issue through adequate support for strategic agencies and institutions such as Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN).

According to experts, human capital development in the maritime sector is another viable avenue through which the government can generate numerous jobs, for Nigerians within and outside the country on a sustainable basis, as some nations are in dire need of qualified personnel to occupy sensitive positions.

Indeed, the demise of Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) in 1995 created huge gap in human capital development in the sector. Numerous qualified personnel are either now retired, about to retire or presently actively involved in other sectors of Nigeria’s economy.

Established in 1959, NNSL was liquidated in 1995 and all its 21 vessels sold making it almost impossible to train fresh hands to meet future challenges.
Worried by the development, the federal government, through the management of MAN led by the institution’s Rector, Joshua Okpo, embarked on infrastructural development coupled with collaboration with world acclaimed international institutions.

For example, quest by MAN to upgrade its status to that of degree awarding   institution was given a boost in 2013 by the visit of the president, World Maritime University (WMU), Prof. Bjorn Kjerlve to Nigeria.

Besides, under it phase three development agenda, MAN is building new male and female hostels, staff school, shopping mall, major and ring road from the main campus among others including plans to resuscitate cooperative society as part of measures to boost staff morale.
The academy explained that it has expanded its refectory; build new classroom and e-library and renovated administration block coupled with construction of a new mini stadium.

Explaining further, Okpo said MAN has strengthened its training scheme and put in place rotational directorate and improved harmony among teaching staff.
To ensure uninterrupted development at the academy, the management has in place dispute resolution mechanism and improved working relationship with the host communities and members of the National Assembly.

The management of the institution, established in 1979 and formerly known as the   Nautical College of Nigeria, was   designed as an integrated institution for the education and training of shipboard officers and ratings shore-based management personnel.
It current management said it has resolved to tackle once and for all, the challenges associated with providing sea time experience for cadets and attaining degree awarding status.

Kjerive, who was in Nigeria for the first time met with strategic stakeholders including the minister of transport, Idris Umar, Okpo and Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, among others and used the opportunity to access available infrastructure at MAN.

Kjerive had in August 2012 in  Malmo played host to a delegation from Nigeria including the transport minister and MAN Rector.
The visit centered on ways WMU can collaborate with the ministry of transport, MAN and how Nigerian students can benefit from the numerous opportunities available at the institution.

At MAN, Kjerive described the facilities on group as impressive, adding that plans are underway by the WMU to establish some Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government and MAN.

Explaining further, Kjerive said: “We will establish a number of memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government and the Academy. We have been asked by the minister of transport to help evaluate and recommend making the academy even better.
“This is the beginning of a good relationship. I am looking forward to see more instructors and graduates from the academy coming to WMU for short term courses”, said Kjerive.

Kjerive also disclosed that as part of the existing relationship between Nigeria and WMU a team of professors have been scheduled to visit MAN to evaluate the situation in the institution and make necessary recommendations to the Federal Government on what to do next.
Accompanied by senior staff of MAN during the tour of facilities at the institutions, Kjerive at the end of the exercise said:”I am quite impressed with the quality of staff and facilities. Seven alumni from the WMU are working here.  I am satisfied with the determination of government to make the academy become world class”.

Located  in Malmö, Sweden,  WMU  is a postgraduate maritime university founded by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) , a specialised agency of the United Nations in 1983.

The aim of WMU is to further enhance the objectives and goals of IMO and IMO member states around the world through education, research, and capacity building to ensure safe, secure, and efficient shipping on clean oceans.

MAN   and other institutions are reportedly contributing their quota  to capacity development in the  maritime sector

At MAN, Kjerfve inspected facilities at the marine and electrical engineering workshops, simulator/ information and telecommunication centre, completed and ongoing building structures, classrooms among others.

But, observers are of the opinion that to create room for more Nigerian to benefit from the training facilities at MAN, there is need to put in place more infrastructure, especially since the Akwa Ibom state Governor, Godswill Akpabio has made available 31 hectares of land to the academy.

Apart from collaborating with foreign partners, the academy is currently mapping out strategists on how to aquire a vessel to cater for the needs of cadets. Sea time training is a pre-requisite in the acquisition of certificate of competency (CoC) to cadets.

Besides, some observers are of the opinion that the ongoing clamour for the full implementation of the Cabotage law may face stiff challenges without adequate manpower to sustain its execution.

According to the cabotage law, foreign vessels are not allowed to partake in any domestic coastal trade as obtainable in other developed countries of the world, while it will at the same time promote the development of indigenous tonnage and to establish a Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) and for related matters.

Affirming government’s resolve to tackle the challenges of human capital development, the Senior Special Assistant to  President Goodluck Jonathan on Maritime Services, Olugbenga Leke Oyewole, in  a chat  with The Guardian recently  said the  present administration is determined  to encourage and support local participation in the sector  through training and retraining.

Training at MAN is also expected to further pave the way for more development in the maritime sector of the economy.

The Minister of Finance and coordinator of the economy, Nngozi Okonjo-Iweala is also of the opinion that Nigeria’s participation in the maritime sector will not only ensure that most of the incomes are retained locally, but will lead to increased jobs for Nigerians.
She said: “Philippines for example have  been able to position itself as a global supplier of seafarers, creating a lot of jobs and significant foreign income for the country. Why can’t we replicate this in Nigeria?’’

Oyewole who spoke in a similar vein said: “Every other country in the world keeps to their cargo. They carry it by themselves and they are coming to scrabble for the ones we (Nigeria) have here also. We may not have the capacity but the capacity may not come without government support.”
He said the proposed package is structured in a way that Indigenous Ship Owners will be able to acquire vessels, “These vessels will fly Nigerian flag and would be used as training platforms for our people.”

Apart from full sponsorship and collaboration with some state governments, NIMASA is also encouraging agencies especially higher institutions to key into the capacity building scheme.

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