The federal government’s attempt to get sea time experience for cadets of Nigeria’s premier maritime training institution, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, has hit the rocks as the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, declined to ratify a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the academy and a group of shipping firms in Istanbul, Turkey.
The MoU, which was signed between MAN, for the Federal Government of Nigeria, and Piri Reis University, Istanbul for the Turkish government, was hinged on an understanding that Nigeria cannot on its own successfully pursue a sea time programme.
Sea time training which entails those who want to be trained as seafarers spending quality time on board ocean going vessels is one of the prerequisites for qualification as a cadet. It involves cadets getting on board ships so that they can get practical training on what they have learnt in the classrooms.
This is because sea time is one of the parameters for the assessment of cadets for the issuance of certificate of competence (CoC).
Over the years, cadets of the academy have been roaming the streets for lack of jobs since the few openings available can only take those with quality sea time, as well as acceptable COC. It was in an attempt to address the challenge that the academy entered into the MoU.
The implementation of the MoU which would enable the cadets get onboard ocean going vessels in Turkey could not be executed as Umar declined to append his signature to the copies of the MoU at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Headquarters, London, United Kingdom last November.
The Minister who feigned illness at a brief signing ceremony on the sideline of the last General Assembly of IMO in London did not ratify the MoU as he was said to have been uncomfortable with some of its contents.
Impeccable sources close to Dipcharima House, the corporate headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Transport told THISDAY that Umar refused to append his signature to the copies of the MoU following his discovery of certain provisions and clauses that would jeopardise Nigeria’s interest in its implementation.
Tagged Global on Board Training Project (GNOP), the sea time experience would have changed the sorry story of MAN, Oron cadets who have resorted to self help over the years including riding commercial motorcycle popularly called okada to make ends meet.
Deputy Director, Public Relations, Mrs. Yetunde Sonaike said she was not aware of the MoU. Further probing from THISDAY met a brick wall as she repeated said: “I am not hearing you, your voice is breaking” on the telephone. As at press time, she is yet to respond to short message service SMS sent to her.
Officially tagged GOBTC Nigeria On-Board-Training Project (GNOP), the objectives of the MoU include: to provide sustainable high quality on-board-training opportunities to the cadets of MAN, Oron; to realise a firm foundation of a comprehensive on-board-training system in line with what STCW Convention and Code prescribe, including an appropriate function of management of such system, competent instructors, pre-post on-board-training evaluation and assessment; and to pass down the heritage of experience, know-how and expertise to the next generation of Nigeria through MAN Oron.
Others are to realise a recognisable increase of the beneficiaries, above all the students and cadets, of other colleague institutions of Nigeria as well as those of the African Continent and beyond as appropriate amongst others.
Source: This Day Newspaper.