The Merchant Navy Association of Nigeria, a subsidiary of the Merchant Navy Directorate has said that Nigeria has failed to benefit and tap the enormous resources in its blue economy because the wrong people were appointed into maritime administration positions.
Director of the Merchant Navy Directorate, Capt Abel Ogah who stated this in a chat at the weekend also raised concerns that Nigerian seafarers were being underpaid by seafarers.
DAILY TREND recalls that the blue economy concept was adopted in Nigeria through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and it is followed by the yearly celebration of the ‘Day of the African Oceans and Seas”
Meanwhile, in concept, the blue economy is a marine-based sustainable, visionary economic developmental process, which leads to improved human well-being, through sound management of marine resources.
It involves meticulous planning aimed at evolving policies capable of invigorating and crystallising mental concept into pragmatic economic realities.But speaking with our correspondent, Capt Ogah, a retired Training Director with the Nigerian Navy said expressed worry that the only area of concentration in the country for now is oil and gas, and this is not the only thing available in the maritime industry.
He explained that some blue economy sectors in Nigeria are aquaculture, maritime ports infrastructure, shipbuilding and repair yards, training of seafarers, maritime education and training, deep sea development, wreck removal and recycling and marine insurance.
Speaking, he said “What we have tapped from the maritime environment is far lesser than what is yet to be tapped, and until you know what is there, you cannot go and get it.For us as merchant navy directorate, we are seeing beyond what we are even operating”
“The area of concentration in the country for now is oil and gas, and this is not the only thing available in the maritime industry”
“The ferry service is one area that can employ a number of people in this country, Lagos and other coastal state, it would be a relief for a state like Lagos. This is the Intelligence we are talking about, people must have the sense about the business.The earlier other states adopt it, the better for the country”
“Because of our lack of understanding, can you imagine a number of people that would be employed on board ten merchant vessels? We are importing almost everything, but how many Nigerian vessels are carrying these goods”
“If we have Nigerian vessels, it then means we can have Nigerian crews onboard, and this is another opportunity for employment”
“Other areas that have not be tapped is fisheries, do you know that the fishing in our water is all year round, and we have people coming to poach on our waters.I am part of a company that we took our vessel to Liberia, and for a whole year we couldn’t get any fish because their own fishing is seasonal, but in Nigeria it is all year round. The reason why we ran away was insecurity”
“Another area is security, this cannot be done without employing people.There are other mineral resources embedded in our blue waters, but we do not understand how to go about harvesting these opportunities”
“The first step is to put the right people in the right places. You cannot be formulating a policy about what you don’t have understanding on, when you make an historian the administrator of a maritime environment, he would come and tell stories”
“The round pegs must be put in the round holes and make them understand the policies”
Capt Ogah raised an alarm that Nigerian seafarers are the underpaid in terms of remuneration, even as it says that many of them are ignorant of their rights.
He said the association was already having an academy; the Merchant Marine Training Academy where it educates seafarers on understanding their rights, privileges and business opportunities that abound in the maritime sector.
Speaking, he said “Do you know that our seafarers are underpaid? But so many of them are not aware. There is a standard remuneration for seafarers but Nigeria does not adopt it. Through this association you would know what is your right and what you are entitled to”
“If you don’t know what you are entitled to, you would not be able to fight for it.We are not out to fight anybody, but to educate people on the right thing that should be done for someone who has chosen seafaring as his profession, what are his entitlements and rights”
“The Merchant Marine Training Academy is a subsidiary of Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria.If you are a member of the association then you must be knowledgeable about what happens in the maritime sector, the membership is not about the academy, it is about the association, but the academy is to help train people who are members of the association. You have to receive the training to become a member, it is like an induction”
“You can get the training and yet not be a member if you don’t want to”
“Merchant Navy Directorate is an operational name for merchant seafarers association of Nigeria, the base for the association”
“Ours is neither a union nor an enforcement, but an association which consist of professionals who are interested in the welfare of the people in the industry, we enlighten seafarers and professionals about their rights” he said