Minister of Transport, Idris Umar
By John Iwori
The Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, has expressed its readiness to unlock the manpower potentials of the maritime sector of the economy to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the industry in areas of qualified shore based and seafaring manpower in making the country the leader in marine related activities in Africa.
In a statement issued by the academy and signed by its Head of Public Relations, Mr. Siddy Mkpandiok MAN Oron, the Acting Rector of MAN, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Joshua Okpo spoke in Port Harcourt where he was honoured as The South-South International magazine Maritime Man of Year for rapid transformation of the nation's foremost maritime training institution within a short time.
According to the statement which was made available to THISDAY at the weekend, Okpo stated that the training focus of academy was geared towards meeting the nation's manpower demands.
He also urged industry operators to contribute by creating easy platforms for mandatory sea time and industrial training ahead of when MAN will procure a training vessel.
Said he: "The employment and training opportunities in the maritime sector are inter related .This is because the trainings offered by institutions should be for the employment opportunities available in the industry. The trainees also need industry stakeholders’ support for practical work of seafaring and shore based maritime personnel.
"In fact, the training in the schools cannot be successfully completed without the industrial experience and mandatory sea time being provided to the trainees. This is why we need the industry to complement our service by also engaging our ex cadets who are doing well in various sub sectors of the oil and maritime industries. This is one area that can make the Supervised Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) more productive."
Okpo maintained that with adequate funding the academy will do better in helping to address the nation's challenges of unemployment and contribute in the supply of qualified and highly skilled maritime manpower to the African continent and global market.
He added that government plans to establish more rivers and deep sea ports have made it imperative to meet the anticipated personnel demands of the planned expansion.
"At the pace we are going, we will not relent in our drive to produce the manpower requirements for the expanding national ports infrastructure for public and private ports operations.We are the reliable manpower pool and producer of maritime personnel and will rise to meet the nation's demands"
Nigeria, according to him, has several inland ports dotted along 3000 kilometres of inland waterways including Onitsha, Oguta, Opobo, Lokoja, Baro, Jebba and others.
The oil producing and exporting opportunities in the country with approximately 1000 petroleum tankers calling at her ports annually has increased the academy's drive to maximise the opportunities of the Coastal and Inland Shipping(Cabotage) Act for increased number of our nationals on board these vessels.