The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has sent forth 235 Nigerians to India and Greece as ‘batch B’ of 435 young Nigerians to be trained as licenced deck and engine officers, including naval architects under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP).
The Minister of Transportation, Engr. Muazu Sambo, who was the special guest of honour during the ceremony christened ‘NSDP Phase 3, TERRA II’ over the weekend in Lagos, noted that the Federal Government’s decision to continue with the project is based on its role in developing capacity for the Nigerian maritime industry.
“The success of this laudable policy cannot be overemphasised; therefore, the Federal Ministry of Transportation will continue to encourage and partner with NIMASA on NSDP and other policies on the development of a sustainable maritime-based economy (‘Blue’ economy).
“The ministry explicitly gave its nod on the expansion of the programme by another set of 435 new students to be recruited into the NSDP. The flag-off of the 3rd phase of NSDP, ‘NSDP-TERRA’. marks another milestone in the development of manpower in line with the Federal Government’s policy on youth empowerment,” Sambo said.
On his part, the director-general of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh noted that the agency is working with countries committed to an understanding for mutual recognition of Certificate of Competency (CoC) in selecting the institutes to train the beneficiaries.
While acknowledging several teething challenges experienced by the scholarship scheme in its earlier phases, Jamoh noted that all grey areas have been addressed to ensure a better deal for both beneficiaries and the Nigerian government.
“We have taken measures to ensure that all encumbrances experienced in previous phases of the programme are avoided in this new phase. These include an improved recruitment process spread across the six geo-political zones, the introduction of a code of conduct for the beneficiaries and, most importantly, engaging maritime training institutions (MTIs) that offer shore-based training, shipboard training and the Certificate of Competency licencing to eliminate the long delay in securing sea-time training berths as was experienced with the previous set of students. NIMASA comparatively got the most reasonable cost for the training in countries with mutual recognition of CoC with Nigeria.”
Giving a breakdown of the number of seafarers enrolled, graduates and those already employed, Jamoh said: “It is important to note that, from inception to 2020, the programme has enrolled 2,041 students, while 892 are now licensed deck and engine officers, including naval architects. The rest are in their final stage of the programme.
“It may please the minister to know that about 486 of the graduates are now gainfully employed and sailing in both coastal and ocean-going vessels. The NLNG Ship Management Limited is the leading employer of NSDP beneficiaries in the country, with over 40 on their pay-roll.”
Stakeholders at the ceremony included a former DG of NIMASA, Dr. Ade Dosunmu; President-general of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju; Secretary-general of Abuja MoU, Captain Sunday Umoren etc.
Shipowners Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, Alhaji Aminu Umar and Mrs Margaret Orakwusi urged the beneficiaries to be good ambassadors of the country, noting that they can be described as “privileged Nigerians”.
In 2008, NIMASA initiated the NSDP with the sole mandate of training Nigerian youths to become seafarers and naval architects and in fulfilling one of its core mandates in capacity-building.
The programme was designed to train Nigerian youths, up to the degree level, in marine engineering, nautical sciences and naval architecture in some of the best maritime training institutions (MTIs) in the world and position them to compete effectively in the global maritime industry.
This policy came into being after it was observed that the number of Nigerian seafarers on ocean-going vessels had depleted over the years and the need to boost the number adequately for effective implementation of the coastal and inland shipping policy of the government, informed the initiative.