#MaritimeRealityCheck: Seafarer training in Nigeria not complete without foreign–going national fleet
At the heart of a national maritime development plan should be the acquisition of Nigerian-flagged fleet, for the nation to sustain a reputable position in international trade.
Indigenous Shipowner and CEO of Genesis Worldwide Shipping Group, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, stated this while pointing out the progress gap that cadets of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria would face as a result of lack of a foreign-going national fleet by the country.
The master mariner ship-owner noted that the Maritime Academy of Nigeria may have done impressively by developing world-class infrastructure including all facilities for both training and comfort of its cadets, but that the effort should culminate in another phase provided by a ‘non-existent’ indigenous-owned ships.
He said: “Infrastructure cannot be developed for the purpose simply of its establishment. There must be an underlying strategic, business or political reason behind the decision to establish the investments at the maritime college.
“The purpose of establishing the Maritime College, Oron, has to do with a wish to achieve and surpass self-sufficiency in the availability of suitably-trained and STCW qualified and certificated seafarers to work on Nigerian and foreign registered vessels.”
Iheanacho, therefore, said that in line with the reason for training cadets to satisfy manpower provision for the industry, attention must be given to the urgent need for acquisition of foreign- going Nigerian -flagged vessels for appropriate further training and work platforms to be created for the Academy trainees, post-graduation.
“Nigeria can add greater value to her international trade by developing a national-flag fleet, which would simultaneously provide a work and training platform on which the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron cadets and graduates can train and work.”
He advised that “such a fleet would be best established predominantly under private sector ownership given our past unsavoury experience in running vessels under government ownership.
“In the historical public sector ownership scenario for Nigerian flagged vessels, everybody’s business became nobody’s business and the shipping enterprises predictably went under.
“The existence of an indigenous Nigerian- flagged fleet would provide a rational justification for the current investments in infrastructure which are currently being undertaken at the Maritime Academy in Oron.”
He added that “Such investments in Nigerian- flagged shipping tonnage would facilitate a cardinal objective of the seafarers’ development programme, which is the development of qualified seafarers who would both serve Nigeria’s shipping requirements as well as be available for service on foreign -flagged vessels where they can earn valuable dollar income for the Nigerian economy.”
He clarified that the shipping fleet envisaged is different and distinct from the navigational training vessel, which the Academy had always requested to be made available to it.
According to Iheanacho, the fleet recommended for establishment would consist of a fleet of foreign-going vessels, which structure and capacity would be appropriately reflective of the structure and volume of Nigeria’s international trade in imports and exports.
He further warned that without such a fleet, the Nigerian-trained cadets would be left with limited opportunities for employment and may be left walking the streets, not having any platforms, Nigeria- flagged or otherwise, to strut their professional practice.