Despite NIMASA’s Multi-billion Naira NSDP Programme, ITF Raise Concerns Over Lack of Employable Nigerian Seafarers



The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has said that the International Maritime Employers Council (IMEC) is in need of African seafarers for employment, but raised concerns about the poor number of certified seafarers in Nigeria and other African countries.

According to ITF Africa Regional Secretary Safiyanu Muhammed, Africa accounts for only 78,000 of the over 1 million certified seafarers serving on international merchant ships globally. The figure, he said, stands in stark contrast to major seafaring nations like the Philippines and India.

Muhammed disclosed this in Lagos on Tuesday when he accompanied ITF London Project Coordinator for the MAS project, Mrs Barning Annica Marie, on a working visit to the National secretariat of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association.

The meeting, which, had in attendance the leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN and the Merchant Navy officers aims to address some operational challenges facing seafarers in the country, enhance seafarers’ welfare and boost their chances to participate in the global shipping industry.

Speaking, Muhammed expressed concern over the poor representation of African seafarers in the global maritime industry just as he questioned the whereabouts of Nigerian seafarers trained under the National Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP), sponsored by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

“I understand that hundreds of Nigerians are trained by past government using taxpayers money. Where are the seafarers trained by NIMASA? Where are they? Among the statistics that I have, roughly about 1million certified seamen that we have globally, only 78,000 are Africans. You can’t compare this number with what we have in the Philippines and Indian, talk less of Ukraine, ” he said.

Muhammed also criticized the issuance of limited Certificates of Competence (CoC) to Nigerian seafarers by NIMASA noting that this practice restricts their professional opportunities compared to seafarers from other countries.

“Why would your license be limitedl? You have cheat yourself for you to give Nigerians license and say it is limited. What is the problem with our schools? Can’t we upgrade them? Now Ghana maritime university is one of the best in the world. You go there, get trained and get your certificate with which you can work anywhere in the world. Government must know this because it is a political issue.

“We have ships doing business here but you see foreigners working on board. Why? I understand there is a policy for waiver but why do you have to give waivers when you have capable Nigerians that can do the job,” he queried.

Muhammed urged MWUN and the Merchant Navy Officers to collaborate with the government to address these issues, which he described as political.

He emphasized the need for government to initiate policies that would promote broader seafarer certification and encourage Nigerians to pursue careers at sea.

Earlier in her remarks, ITF London Project Coordinator for the MAS project, Marrie, commended the collaboration between both unions in promoting seafarers’ welfare. She reiterated the ITF’s commitment to the MAS project’s success in Nigeria.

Secretary General of the Merchant Navy officers, John Okpono Aleakhue while commending the ITF representatives for the visit called for ITF solidarity in supporting further unionization efforts within the maritime sector.

President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, also thanked Mrs. Annica for her visit and acknowledged the positive impact of the Maritime Affiliate Support (MAS) project on Nigerian seafarers pledging collaboration to improve their welfare.

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