By DAPO OLAWUNI
Nigerian seafarers are among the best in the world, however, entrenched interests at the apex maritime regulatory agency in Nigeria; the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been alleged to be responsible for lack of jobs opportunities for them and meeting up with their counterparts internationally.
Speaking with our correspondent, Secretary General of Nigerian Merchant Navy Association, Capt Alfred Oniye said certain limitations on the Certificate of Competency (CoC) being issued to Nigerian seafarers and the waivers granted by NIMASA was responsible for the woes of seafarers.
“There are some cabals in NIMASA that are suppressing the seafarers in Nigeria and that is why many of them are going abroad to obtain their licenses”
“It does not cost NIMASA anything to upgrade the license, they know what to do, there are some people in NIMASA office who would not want the seafarers license to be upgraded because they would feel intimidated, they would not be able to control these seafarers again, meanwhile they want to keep the seafarers under their control so that they can control their future”
“The waiver being granted by NIMASA should also be removed, the limitation on the COC is what gives NIMASA room to waive foreigners into our waterways, and they take over the jobs belonging to our seafarers”
“We have two types of license, the NCV (Near Coastal Voyage) sailing within your waterways, and the FGN (Foreign Going Nation)
The FGN are well paid, treated and celebrated. But what is being issued in Nigeria is NCV”
“If our curriculum can be reviewed to meet up with international standards, I think we would go to places, this is the responsibility of NIMASA”
“We still have Nigerians that are far better, but this NCV Certificate is limiting them, you would not even see a foreign vessel sailing in Nigerian water that would employ them, this is because there is a limitation on the license”
“If you go to Ghana to obtain your license, they would give you FGN, this is the reason why many Nigerian seafarers are clamouring to go to Ghana, imagine our mandatory, STCW is not even in the white paper, it doesn’t cross your waters, there are so many Nigerian companies that would not employ you because of the mandatory because it is a suicide mission, there is no practical training, it is only certificates they are being given”
“When it comes to practical skills, in America, they would not admit you for mandatory if you don’t know how to swim properly, because you must understand the proper basic techniques before you can support yourself with basic safety equipment.
Someone that doesn’t know how to swim, if you are given a life jacket, how do you want to use it?
Capt Oniye condemned academic institutions churning out seafarers without basic personal surviving techniques, he said most of the schools train cadets inside the swimming pool.
According to him, there is a Bill alresdy at the National Assembly seeking removal of these limitations on the certificates. He however said, there are certain cabals who wants their interest to be discussed first.
He reiterated the need for NIMASA to remove the NCV limitations on seafarers certificates, and cancel waivers in order for the Nigerian seafarers to be employed.
He added that Nigerian seafarers are very good.