The Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, says for Nigeria to meet its seafarers need, there is need to establish maritime universities in the country.
Dogara said this on Tuesday at the public hearing on two bills proposing the establishment of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta and Maritime University, Oron in Akwa Ibom.
The public hearing organised by the House Committee on Maritime Safety and Education was chaired by Rep. Mohammed Bago.
Dogara, represented by the Chief Whip, Mr Ado Doguwa, said “from Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) records, Nigeria needs about 50,000 Seafarers for the Nigerian shipping industry to realize its full potential.
“As at 2009, Nigeria had less than 3,000 Seafarers.’’
He explained that the purpose for the establishment of the universities was to fill the gap in the manpower requirements of the maritime sector.
The speaker added that the universities would provide maritime academic training, facilities and indeed, infrastructure as required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) under STCW Conventions.
On the Maritime University, Oron, he explained that the “Bill seeks to upgrade the existing Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, to a degree awarding institution.
“This initiative will at the same time provide upgraded facilities and teaching aids as required by IMOs STCW Convention (The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers) 1978.’’
Dogara explained that the convention set qualification standards for Masters, Officers and Watch Personnel on seagoing merchant ships.
He pointed out that global maritime economy had become increasingly knowledge driven, necessitating the production of local high level professionals to meet the challenges.
He further said that Nigeria was a potential maritime power.
“Considering our access to limitless maritime resources and waterways, with about 850 kilometres Coastline on the Atlantic Ocean that connects some of the World’s richest economies, and over 3, 000 kilometres Inland navigable waterways.
“Yet, there is no specialized university offering relevant courses in maritime studies and engineering, even though Nigeria has about 130 universities,’’ the speaker said.
In his welcome address, Chairman of the committee, Bago, reiterated the need for institutions that would provide studies in maritime as well as the engineering.
He urged stakeholders to contribute their views on the bills as they would be instrumental in helping the house arrive at decisions that could impact positively on the maritime industry in the country. (NAN)