NIMASA DG, Patrick Akpobolokemi
By John Iwori
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, has said training of seafarers overseas has gulped N1.6 billion.
Akpobolokemi who disclosed this in a keynote address he presented as part of activities to mark the World Maritime Day celebration, explained that the money was spent to train about 75 young Nigerians in the seafaring profession in different parts of the world.
He also revealed that the agency has concluded plans to acquire an electronic pooling system with a view to getting Nigerian seafarers registered, verified and placed on board vessels anywhere in the world.
Akpobolokemi who was represented by the Director of Maritime Labour Services in the agency, Alhaji Isa Baba said that most of the cadets will soon round up their programmes in various areas of Nautical Sciences.
He stated that the seafarers' day is aimed at highlighting the problems and the challenges facing the world seafarers who contribute more than 80 percent to world trade.
He noted that these seafarers due to the nature of the job stay away from their families for a long period of time.
“So we want to highlight the contributions of these people to the world with a view to appreciate their contributions towards the development of trade and commerce worldwide”, he said.
On the move to fill the 250, 000 vacancies that will be available by the year 2015, Akpobolokemi explained that Nigerians do not have to look out for jobs outside the shore of the country as the vacancies available in the coastal trade is enough to accommodate qualified local seafarers.
“If you even restrict yourself to the Nigerian coastal trade otherwise known as Cabotage, we have over 50,000 jobs and because of lack of capacity, most of these jobs are being taken by the foreigners. NIMASA as an agency has started the development of seafaring. We have commenced the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) where each state of the federation is expected to participate by sending 25 young Nigerians from the states on a yearly basis.
NIMASA pays 40 percent of the cost while the states concern makes counterpart payment of 60 percent.
“We also realise that one of the problem we have is issue of seafarers' training institute. The agency is the moment exploiting areas where some partnership will be for the development of seafarers. So far we have only the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State and the academy is not capable of providing our needs in this respect. Already, the agency is making plans to go into partnership with the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State; Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Amassoma, Bayelsa State and the Rivers State University of Science Technology, Port Harcourt so as to train more seafarers over a period of time”.
He disclosed that substantial amount of money has been voted for this purpose and urged young Nigerians to avail themselves of this unique opportunity.
On why some of the coastal states are yet to buy into NSDP initiative, the NIMASA boss said the agency was still meeting with stakeholders in these states on the need for them to be fully involved in the programme.
According to him, very soon the challenges of non-participation of the coastal states in NSDP will be over.