The Federal Government has been charged to provide training vessels to accommodate the large number of cadets produced by maritime institutions in the country for seatime opportunities.
This comes as stakeholders in the shipping industry decried the large number of cadets that have remained unemployed due to lack of sea time training experience, especially as shipping companies require high skills and competencies to function.
This was made known when the Alumni Association of Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology (FCFMT), in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), sponsored 87 students on free basic mandatory cadet training.
Ten exceptional students of the college were also given free scholarship to advance their studies in India.
Speaking at the presentation of Certificates in Lagos, the President of the Alumni association, Captain Williams Ogunsakin, informed that the certification is in fulfillment of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) basic mandatory training on Security Awareness, Seamanship and Fisheries Resources Management.
According to him, it is a basic requirement for all cadets to serve onboard a ship, noting that the certification is globally accepted and not limited to Nigeria, while renewable after five years.
Ogunsakin also informed that a non-governmental organisation, Tetra Foundation, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of India to train Nigerian students on free scholarship.
He noted that five exceptional students each from the Nautical and Marine Engineering departments are now beneficiaries of the scholarship.
While lamenting the unavailability of ships for providing seatime opportunities for the students in the country, Ogunsaki called on the government to float a National Carrier, which will enhance human capacity development among seafarers in the country.
“It is quite unfortunate that Nigeria does not have ships to accommodate the cadets for their seatime. We cannot leave the job in the hands of the school authority alone. We are ready to work with the school and make sure that the school excels. We shall be a pacesetter for other maritime institutions in Nigeria,” Ogunsakin concluded.
The Head of Marine Operations, Blue Lake Offshore Limited, Captain Oluwasegun Akanbi, said getting basic safety training is the first requirement to work onboard vessels for any shipping company.
Akanbi, who is also the President, the Maritime Professionals Forum (MARPRO), said the number of cadets produced by the maritime institutions in the country and the Nigerian Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP), is more than the number of vessels available while shipping companies are not ready to train cadets.
“The companies are not ready to take the cadets because they see them as trainees, they want a productive crew. The few ones that are even taking them are using the cadets as labour. It is a very difficult situation, in which we have suggested a series of ways out,” he said.
On ways to ameliorate the situation, Akanbi said the United States (U.S) has training vessels such as ‘State of Maine,’ which accommodates 300 cadets and the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV), which takes over 600 cadets.
According to him, these training vessels are designed to provide a state-of-the-art training platform, as they contain numerous training spaces including classrooms, a full training bridge, lab spaces, an auditorium and instructors, thereby maximising the capability of the ship and its mission to provide cadets with a world-class education.
He said Nigeria should lobby the U.S. for one of the training vessels as a token of friendship while urging the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), shipping companies and other stakeholders to come together and sponsor training vessels for cadetship.
“The United States has about five of these training vessels. This training vessel is not only going to be doing training, it can also be engaged in federal activities for maritime agencies – It will work for the country for dual purposes. The maximum number of cadets on a ship is four and if all the ships in Nigeria should take four, we will still have a lot of cadets out of jobs, it is high time we had a training vessel,” he stated.
While commending the alumni association for the great feat, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NIOMR, Captain Abiodun Sule, encouraged the students to be focused and career-driven by optimally making use of the training and certifications for the development of shipping in Nigeria.
On his part, the Managing Director of Mantra Maritime Training Institute, Captain Olopoenia, who was represented by Captain Adewale Ishola, noted that the institute has been partnering with the college to train cadets.
Olopoenia urged the students to make judicious use of the certifications, which he said will be a veritable source of their livelihood throughout their lifetime.
The Chairman Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association, Captain Fola Ojutalayo stressed that the alumni will always try their best to support the students.
“The training was paid for by the alumni supported by NIOMR and subsidised by Mantra Maritime Training Institute. These courses are expensive. I did mine in Ghana and the United Kingdom. These are programmes that ordinarily you spend dollars and pounds on, but the alumni were able to bring it to your doorsteps right here in the college for you to be able to go through this mandatory pioneer certification. This is the first certificate you must get if you want to work in this industry,” Oguntalayo admonished them.
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