Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
In a bid to find a solution to perennial lack of sea time experience for cadets who graduated from maritime institutions in Nigeria, the National Assembly has started making moves to address the issue.
In a recent visit to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Headquarters, London, United Kingdom, members of the National Assembly stressed the need for the United Nation (UN) specialised agency to come to the aid of Nigeria in making sure that Nigerian cadets get sea time experience.
For years, Nigeria has been grappling with the challenge of having sea time experience for her cadets. The sea time experience, which is mandatory for qualified seafarers for the acquisition of their certificates of competency (CoC), has made it difficult for them to get good jobs and get on board ocean going vessels.
The problem was compounded with the liquidation of the national shipping carrier, the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) in 1995.
Attempts were made in the past to acquire a training ship for the cadets of Nigeria’s premier maritime training institution, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, with the procurement of a training ship a few years ago.
However, the procurement was dogged by controversy as the training ship was said to be virtually dead before it was brought into the country. The training ship was towed to Calabar port when it started taking water at the mouth of River Cross.
Since then thousands of cadets who graduate from MAN have no opportunity for sea time experience, making them less attractive in the labour market.
Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, made the appeal when he led the delegation of the lawmakers on a courtesy visit to IMO Secretary General, Mr. Koji Sekimizu, and said the request become imperative since Nigeria cannot do it alone.
While commending Sekimizu for receiving him and his team in audience within his busy schedule, the legislator recalled the strides Nigeria has made over the years as a key member of the IMO.
Continuing, Ugwuanyi, who represents Igboeze North/Udenu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, said: “The importance of the IMO to global shipping in particular cannot be over emphasised. Among your game changer was the ISPS code.
“Let me say that Nigeria is committed to the IMO and its operations. We participate actively paying our dues and ensure that IMO recommendations are ratified and domesticated as part of our municipal laws. In this light, we have domesticated and ratified most of the IMO conventions, and codes to which we are signatory in the last few years.
“We are even committed at the secretariat levels. Here I will like to mention Mrs. Mbanefo who served here for many years and retired meritoriously. I will also mention Mr. William Azuh, currently working with you and a worthy ambassador. We commend the IMO for its support to Nigeria as a nation, but like Oliver Twist we will ask for more. We urge the IMO to offer more technical assistance to our nation. We request for capacity building programmes generally, especially assistance in getting global shipping companies to engage cadets that come out of Nigeria Maritime Academy for their sea training”.
He used the occasion to invite Sekimizu to Nigeria, pointing out that the Secretary General will find Nigeria a peace-loving country, rich in culture, natural resources, and an aspiring global shipping nation, as well as a home away from home.