Lagos – A maritime expert, Capt. Fola Ojutalayo, has called for the upgrade of maritime training institutions in the country to reduce capital flight occasioned by training of cadets abroad.
Ojutalayo, who is also a Senior Lecturer at the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Lagos, made the call in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.
He said if well equipped, indigenous maritime training institutions could provide the required training for maritime personnel.
“Why is it that we cannot develop our institutions here in Nigeria; upgrade them to the level where we can sponsor these people.
“Let them go to these institutions, get their training and right there in the industry they go and practice?
“Why should we send them abroad? What is it they are doing there that we cannot do here? So, is still the same problem of human capacity development and systems problem.
“You can imagine all those trainings they are sponsoring them for are being paid for; they are not for free. That is capital flight.
“If they use the money, pump them judiciously with all commitments into the maritime institutions in Nigeria.
“You have the Maritime Academy of Nigeria in Oron; you have the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology; both of them are Federal Government institutions. Why can’t we upgrade them?“
Ojutalayo described the training of seafarers by NIMASA in several countries abroad as “misplaced prioirity“, saying that the ships in the country might not have the capacity to absorb them.
“The issue of training, like what NIMASA is doing now. The people they are training basically now are young seafarers, who are newly coming into the industry.
“Although it is a laudable feat by them, I still have some reservation concerning that. The reason is because it is like a misplaced priority.
“You are training young seafarers to go and work on ships; you are training them in thousands; I don’t think they are less than 2,000 that NIMASA has sent out for now.
“By the time they finish in the next two, three, four years, where are they going to be working?
“What is the size, the capacity of ships that we have in Nigeria that will accommodate these people?“
Ojutalayo urged the government not to allow persons that had acquired professional skills in seamanship to roam the streets without jobs to prevent the growth of piracy.