There are strong indications that the Nigerian maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), whose primary statutory function is to develop the Nigerian maritime sector is no more sponsoring the Nigerian Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP) since the coming of Dr. Dakuku Peterside as DG.
The training scheme by law is introduced to drive the process of bridging the supply gap in manpower capacity building in the industry.
The program, established in 2008, is estimated to have trained 2,259 young Nigerians in various areas of seafaring in many foreign countries gulping over N45 billion in the process.
However, since the assumption of office of the present Director General in 2015, NIMASA has quietly suspended the Programme as no trainee has benefited from the NSDP.
Rather, NIMASA has continued to fund the training of those already sent abroad even though too often remittances for the funding are very irregular.
A top official of the agency who pleaded anonymity averred that financial challenges have forced the agency to halt several capacity training programmes including the NSDP.
pointing out that the NSDP was one of the first casualties of the low financial returns.
The official traced the problem to shortfall in overall income of the parastatal, saying even many welfare packages hitherto enjoyed by staff have been suspended or reviewed downwards.
He also pointed out the fall in the foreign exchange value of the Naira has brought further limitations to the programmes the Agency can execute.
Besides, another pointer to the stoppage of the training may not be unconnected to fears of probe as accounts of the training in the past had been veiled, thus raising fears of subjecting the scheme to conduit pipe for draining public fund by some officials of the agency.
So far 2,259 Nigerians have been trained in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania, Philippines, India and Turkey in various areas of seafaring including marine engineering, navigation, transportation administration etc.
At the last count, the last set of trainees graduated from Egypt few months ago and since then; there had been no sign of new intakes at the agency.