President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. MkGeorge Onyung has said if the Federal Government is able to encourage the management of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), to sustain its current manpower development effort, Nigeria could be earning a whopping sum of $12 billion every year from the seafaring profession.
This came as the Nigerian Senate has expressed concern over the perceived deficit in the nation’s seafaring manpower development. Onyung, who spoke during the 2020 Passing-Out-Parade/graduation ceremony of the 2020 Cadet Class, which held in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, said Nigeria has the potential to overtake Philippines as the world’s leading seafaring nation. He said: “We are very happy with development at the maritime academy, and want to express our readiness to continue to support its efforts.
We are the true benefactors of the training that is taking place at the maritime academy in the last few years because we have invested so much in shipping, and cannot afford to have incompetent seafarers manning our vessels.
“Seafarers and the ship owners have the key to unlock the economic potential of this country. The Philippines which ranks as number one in seafaring today has only 400,000 seafarers manning ships globally. The 400,000 Philippines seafarers generate $6 billion annually to their country’s economy. “The leadership of MAN Oron has remained at the deck doing beautifully in the training of cadets and maritime manpower.
Nigeria can raise 800,000 seafarers given our large population, which can translate into $12 billion annually into the Nigerian economy. That is why I left the practice of medicine because seafaring is the biggest business in the world.” He said the world economy is gradually shifting to the sea, noting that seafarers possess the key to unlock the future global economy.
“I want to assure the graduating seafarers that they have entered the best profession in the world because without them, the world would have been in serious trouble during the first COVID-19 lockdown. “We take seafarers as members of our family. Whenever they get kidnapped by pirates, we don’t sleep.
How can we sleep when we are in the comfort of our homes and these seafarers are on the high sea making money for us? Our heart goes out to those who have lost their lives during this COVID-19 pandemic.” Speaking during the passing-out parade of the cadets of MAN, Oron, Akwa lbom State, the Chairman Senate Committee on Maritime Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje, represented by Senator Akon Eyakenyi, extolled the efforts of the management of the academy for the event which was coming two years after the inaugural POP held in 2018.
He highlighted the need for increased seafarer training, to get more seafarers for industry manpower needs, in view of the fact that Nigeria is a maritime nation and involved in huge importation and exportation. Goje said: “The Nigerian Senate congratulates the academy on this epoch making event. Maritime administration and learning is critical to the economy of Nigeria because as an import dependent nation, over 90 percent of our trade, both import and export, is through the sea.
“Maritime trade is undertaking by professionals (seafarers) who must undergo prescribed courses of training in line with standards set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). “The Maritime Academy was therefore established in 1979 to ensure Nigeria benefits from maritime trading through production of maritime professionals. Over the past few years, the Maritime Academy has been living the Nigerian dream.
“However, despite the academy’s effort at producing seafarers, Nigeria still has a huge deficit gap in terms of seafaring manpower. Therefore, there is the need to ensure greater numbers of well trained professionals are churned out as seafarers in the country without compromising quality and standards.”
Highlight of the event was the offer of automatic employment to the Best Overall Graduating Student, Anthony Oluwaseun Adigun of the School of Marine Engineering by Starzs Investment Group. Chairman/CEO of Starz Investment, Engr. Greig Ogbeifun said “We have a tradition for encouraging academic and character excellence because shipping thrives on both.”