The federal government has stopped the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) for the training of cadets abroad, which has gulped about N20 billion so far.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the NSDP is a scholarship scheme partly funded by the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and State governments in the ratio of 40 percent to 60 percent.
But, NIMASA that initiated the NSDP programme in 2009 with the aim of developing capacity and to bridge the manpower gap in the maritime industry, said it had spent over N20 billion to train 2,500 seafarers under the (NSDP) from 2011 to January 2015.
Also, since the scheme started in 2011, cadets have graduated from three institutions including John Moores University Liverpool and South Tyneside College Newcastle both in the United Kingdom and Arab academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Alexandra, Egypt.
The N20 billion included training fees, allowances, cost of laptops, books and other learning gadgets. However, speaking at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, recently, the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said he hasn’t approved the training of cadets out of the country since he assumed office in 2015.
According to him, approving training for cadets out of the country contributed to the stunted growth recorded by MAN, Oron in recent years.
He said, “when I came in, they gave me a full, nearly a thousand document, that Oga, select people to go oversea for seafaring course oversea, I could have done that because am a politicians but since I came not one person have been approved because I refuse.
“ NIMASA has written, they have came to me, 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 abroad and in Nigeria, if we stop people from being trained oversea, they will ensure that this place (MAN, Oron) is improved upon,” he said.
The minister who said that the seafaring academy in Egypt and Ghana were built at about the same time lamented that Nigeria Maritime Academy is lagging behind her contemporaries in Africa.
He said: “I heard MAN Oron was established almost the same time with the school in Egypt and we are not near them not even Ghana. 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 and that is their own economy, they export globally.
“We can’t even create seafarer for our own maritime industry let alone export. Our maritime industry is weak because everyone focus on oil when there are countries who focus mainly on maritime but my prayer is when the oil finish we can look inside on how to grow our nation.”
The minister however ensure the academy he would ensure they get their 5 percent funding from NIMASA as at when due. “Iwill talk to the management of NIMASA to pay your your money and ensure that at the end of every year, you receive your yearly allocation.