Captain Niyi Labinjo, President of the Nigeria Ship Owners Association , NISA has disclosed that many seafarers who have been unable to secure gainful employment after their training have turned to crime out of frustration. Over the years government has failed to evolve programmes to facilitate the creation of jobs for cadet seafarers.
A statement from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State has revealed that about 11,000 cadets of the maritime institute who have succeeded in completing various cadet courses in the last 10 years have been denied the opportunity of doing the one-year mandatory practical training on board ocean going vessels. This is a requirement by the International Maritime Organisation that has been made impossible because Nigeria does not have a training ship for the cadets. Consequently, the cadets have been denied the award of the Certificate of Competency , COC .
Without the COC, the cadet seafarers are as good as half baked products that cannot boldly complete in the job market.
Labinjo says the federal government is encouraging the rising wave of crimes including piracy, oil theft and sea robbery in the maritime space through the neglect of the cadets and seafarers who have been left to their fate.
“These young cadets, out of frustration, are now taking advantage of their seafaring training and skills to engage in maritime related crimes through which the country loses huge sums of money annually,” says the NISA President.
Labinjo noted that over the years, the country has failed to take advantage of what the complete training of seafarers translates to in terms of job creation and foreign exchange earnings. He stated that Nigeria can take a cue from the Philippines which has no crude oil or other mineral deposits but generates over $600 million annually by merely exporting seafarers. Many of such seafarers who are employed in Nigeria are fixed in spaces that should have been occupied by Nigerians if they had their COC.