…Says poor implementation of NSDP starved, dwarfed MAN Oron***
Nigeria’s shipping guru, Engr. Greg Utonwen Ogbeifun took a hard look at the major challenge of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, which is finding sea-time for the army of its graduates and declared that, but for the myopic vision of the Agency, the issue would have been non-existent.
The nation’s foremost shipping mogul who also lauded the efforts of the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, made the observation in Lagos last week, stressing that if the Agency and the Academy would sincerely synergize and approach the problem from same stand-point, the country may soon draw dividends, from its investments on the Academy, as the Academy’s products would globally be considered adequately ‘baked’ and employable.
“Talking about finished products, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) of Oron is not built to produce ‘finished product’. As a sea farer who went through the training period, you have a time in a college; you have a time at sea; you go back to college, to do the necessary additional college work to now become eligible to seek for professionalism, and that’s when you say ‘finished product’!
“It is like a pilot training. Pilots start by going to college, get the immersed in aeronautical ground work done, then the pilot is required to do some fly hours to be eligible to sit, so it’s like saying when they finish that preliminary college work, they are eligible; No, they are not! You need to correct that.
“Now, MAN Oron, which was established 38 or 39 years ago was in a position to produce the first set of Cadets training here; and would have grown to be like Ghana, if not for Nigeria being Nigeria.
“So, with time, the place deteriorated; thanks to the past Honourable Minister (of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi) who now came in and set up another committee to revive it; and it is revived now, and which means it’s still working very well now. If you go there now and in case you have gone there before; you will know there has been dramatic improvement! There are still gaps, gaps in the area of the teaching staff, we haven’t got that right yet. But efforts are being made! Also, to some extent the equipment; but, I think what they have is more than enough, to make the place eligible for training!
“Now after that, the academy has a problem with the issue of mandatory sea time training. And I keep saying to the people that, but for Nigeria Shipping Line which was liquidated in 1995, there would have been no mariners of our caliber.
“I was off Shell. But, there were a lot of Nigerians, the likes of Akinsojis of this world, Captain Biu, Iheanacho who went through that system; they went through that platform, and so, after the time they spent in college in Liverpool, they now went on the ships! They were trained to get the relevant sea-time; went back to college, spent 3 to 6 months and then they were eligible to do the Certificate exams for proficiency!
“Here, what we should be focusing on is not MAN in Oron. MAN Oron is driving itself with challenges. It is what NIMASA is doing (and) which I think they have not been getting right! The Nigerian Seafarers Development Program (NSDP), if the focus was how do we get a fleet, Call it what you like: in-country vessels, training ships or internationals; whose main focus is give our people sea time?
“Instead, what are they doing? They are going to institutions similar to Maritime Academy Oron outside this country, funding them, sending children there and starving Maritime Academy Oron; instead of bringing the Academy to the standard of what they have in all those countries? And in essence to put excess resources, on how to put heads with MAN Oron, and say: ‘how do we get sea-time’; they are putting head with institutions abroad to get sea-time, when they should be putting heads with MAN Oron here, for sea-time!
“It’s easier if MAN Oron management and NIMASA management went to a foreign institution, to say look, can we use your linkages to put our cadets (MAN- NIMASA), but what do we have? MAN Oron is looking for their own; and NIMASA is also looking for their own! We just got a letter from MAN Oron, inviting us to a meeting on how Ship-owners can help them with sea-time; we also got a letter from NIMASA inviting us to NIMASA, on the same issue!
“Can you see the challenges? We need to come together, we can’t do it in isolation, whatever NIMASA is doing must have a linkage with MAN Oron, particularly for the fact that you (NIMASA)are funding them! That’s your baby; you should nurture that baby to become an adult!
“I think I am sounding like a broken record now on this issue, but that is the fundamental. So, MAN Oron is doing its best; and NIMASA is also doing what they think is right, but if you are doing the same thing over and over again, and you are not getting the desire result; it’s not just to reel out figures, you should also substantiate these things, so that we will know that you are actually getting somewhere!”, he explained further.