The Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon. Mohammed Bago has called for stakeholdersâ€™ inputs in the development of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron Akwa Ibom State and the Nigeria Maritime University (NMU), Okerenkoko, Delta State.
The legislator who represents the Chanchaga Federal Constituency, Niger State said the inputs of stakeholders on the way forward would make a huge difference in the sustainable development of the two tertiary institutions.
Bago who spoke on the heels of the just concluded public hearing on MAN, Oron and NMU in the National Assembly stated that all hands need to be on deck on the building of capacity for the maritime industry.
He called on stakeholders to collaborate with the National Assembly initiating bills or submitting memoranda that would take the maritime industry to where it ought to be.
His words: â€œIt is common knowledge that there is gross incapacity amongst our indigenes and firms to perform jobs, roles and functions in the sector. You know the maritime sector is very technical in nature and specialized as it services ancillary sectors such as oil and gas. This lack of capacity among Nigerians has led to many of the jobs, especially highly paid ones going to foreigners. It has also weakened respective regulators in the sector in performing their statutory duties due to lack of requisite capacityâ€.
According to him, the National Assembly in 2003 enacted the Cabotage Act to ensure the participation of our nationals in domestic shipping (Coastal and Inland), by reserving crewing to only our nationals. The lack of indigenous capacity of persons with the requisite skills and training has meant that the expectations of Cabotage have not been met.
He explained that it was in an effort to fill this gap in the short term that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) embarked on the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) some years ago.
â€œThis programme entails sending out Nigerians to study maritime courses such as Nautical Science, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in foreign educational institutions. This has resulted in our committing a lot of foreign exchange to train persons to fill this gap. This effort no matter how laudable, has restricted reach as it can only provide for a limited number. This ultimate solution is to provide for maritime training in licensed and certified educational institutions here in Nigeriaâ€, he said.
Bago noted that the two bills for the two institutions look similar on the face of it but they have difficult histories, even as he added that his committee was very conversant with both institutions locations and have visited them accordingly.
â€œThese institutions have the propensity to harness the budding and latent talent of youths in the country as a whole but particularly in the Niger Delta where the bulk of our oil and gas marine installations are located. Be assured therefore of our poise, zeal and drive to ensure just the entrenchment but the ultimate sustenance of these institutionsâ€, he said.