With up to 50,000 trained personnel needed to meet Nigeria's seafarers needs, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has justified the setting up of two maritime universities in the country.
Noting that Nigeria had only 3,000 seafarers as at 2009, Dogara said the country needs to accelerate its maritime manpower development programme which makes the establishment of the universities imperative.
He spoke on Tuesday at the public hearing on two bills proposing the establishment of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Delta State and the upgrading of the Maritime Academy in Oron, Akwa Ibom State to a Maritime University.
The public hearing was organised by the House Committee on Maritime Safety and Education was chaired by Mohammed Bago.
Dogara, represented by the Chief Whip, Ado Doguwa, said “from the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) records, Nigeria needs about 50,000 Seafarers for the Nigerian shipping industry to realize its full potential.
He explained that the purpose for the establishment of the universities was to fill the gap in the manpower requirements of the maritime sector.
The speaker added that the universities would provide maritime academic training, facilities and indeed, infrastructure as required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) under STCW Conventions.
On the Maritime University, Oron, he explained that the “Bill seeks to upgrade the existing Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, to a degree awarding institution.
“This initiative will at the same time provide upgraded facilities and teaching aids as required by IMOs STCW Convention (The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers) 1978.’’
Dogara explained that the convention set qualification standards for Masters, Officers and Watch Personnel on seagoing merchant ships.
He pointed out that global maritime economy had become increasingly knowledge driven, necessitating the production of local high level professionals to meet the challenges.
“Considering our access to limitless maritime resources and waterways, with about 850 kilometres coastline on the Atlantic Ocean that connects some of the world’s richest economies, and over 3,000 kilometres inland navigable waterways, yet, there is no specialized university offering relevant courses in maritime studies and engineering, even though Nigeria has about 130 universities," the speaker said.
In his welcome address, Bago, chairman of the committee, reiterated the need for institutions that would provide studies in maritime as well as maritime engineering.
He urged stakeholders to contribute their views on the bills as they would be instrumental in helping the house arrive at decisions that could impact positively on the maritime industry in the country.
PIX: Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara