By Roland Ekama
The Nigeria Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) has criticized the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmo, Sweden and called on the agency to lay more emphasis on developing its own indigenous nautical school, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
President of the association, Captain Tajudeen Alao, stated this weekend while reacting to the development. He explained that MAN, Oron has what it takes to compete favourably with other notable schools in the globe, but added that failure on the part of the regulatory agency has made it to suffer setbacks since its establishment in the late 1970s.
The President recalled that in the mid 1980s, the Federal Government sent Nigerians to the WMU for training, yet those set of individuals were not given ample opportunity to build capacity for the younger generation.
"Nigeria as a government signed a pact with WMU, Malmo, between 1983 and 1985. After over 30 years of the training in Malmo and Cardiff, Wales, we are supposed to have enough capacity for the industry .
"This is not the time to start sending people overseas under the name of capacity building because it's a fellowship programme.
"The idea behind it is that they will give Nigeria as a country some slots on the number of persons to be part of the programme but I will like to say here that this is a mere misinformation on the part of the NIMASA", Alao said.
Evaluating the state of the Oron academy, the mariner expressed dissatisfaction on what he called NIMASA’s lukewarm attitude towards giving it maximum support.
Captain Alao said NIMASA under Dakuku Peterside should channel both financial and human resources in boosting the academy's growth, regretting the lame support and investment on improving facilities in the institution by agency.
NIMASA recently announced that it has entered into a MoU with the World Maritime University, Malmo, to develop human capacity for the Nigerian maritime sector.
Speaking shortly after signing the MoU, the Director General of the agency, Dr. Peterside who led a delegation from Nigeria to Malmo, expressed optimism that this would help the agency realize its strategic plans to reposition the Nigerian maritime sector for greater efficiency.
According to a statement issued by the Head, Corporate Communications, Isichei Osamgbi, the MoU was in line with the ongoing reforms being championed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
“This MoU with WMU is an important element of the strategic reforms and repositioning of NIMASA to be the leading maritime administration in Africa.
"This is also part of ongoing reforms of the maritime sector in Nigeria which the President of Nigeria and Minister of Transportation are championing.
"The partnership with WMU is in line with the four pillar of NIMASA’s medium term growth plan which addresses capacity building and particularly raising a new generation of forward looking Maritime policy makers and regulators,” Dr. Peterside said.
The MoU covers academic, collaborative and reciprocal activities in the fields of training and research to be provided by WMU geared towards building capacity to grow the Nigerian maritime industry.
The arrangements relating to fellowship funding for the WMU M.Sc programmes are included as well as the M.Phil programme offered in cooperation with the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) in Malta.
Further, the MoU provides for NIMASA officers to take advantage of WMU’s distance learning portfolio as well as Executive Professional Development Courses to reinforce their capacity.
Dr. Peterside, who expressed gratitude to the president and management of WMU for their cooperation, also gave a firm commitment that NIMASA would actively implement the provisions of the MoU.
On her part, the president of WMU, Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, embraced the signing of the MoU and expressed optimism that it would help support Nigeria’s economic growth and the competitiveness of its maritime industry, adding that the MoU is in tandem with WMU’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).