My thoughts about NIMASA Floating dock, Seafarer Development Programme – Sen. Gbemisola Saraki
The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, has listed some key repositioning that should be done to improve seafarer development, just as she sees huge job creation from the Floating Dock owned by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The Minister spoke on the issues on Friday at an interactive session with the maritime media in Lagos, following her week-long engagements with the maritime industry stakeholders.
She described the maritime sector as rich and large enough to be termed the next big sector after the oil and gas sector.
She said: “In truth, there are a lot of jobs that can be created in the maritime sector. The maritime industry is the next biggest sector to the oil and gas; if we didn’t have oil, it would have been the biggest sector. It is the sector that landlocked states envy. We need to take advantage of what God has given to us.
“With a population of 200 million people and a large young population; I think one of the largest young populations in the world. There are many ways we can engage our youths for employment.”
The Minister said it was needful to consider adequate positioning of the seafarer development programme for it to make significant contributions to the nation’s foreign exchange just as is seen in a place like the Philippines.
Her words: “With reference to seafarers, let us think, how did the Philippines do it? Seafarer supply is their greatest foreign –exchange earner, their human capital.
“If you look at our Seafarer Development Programme, it has been going on for a decade. We need to look at it; what has changed? We need to ask “is it achieving what we intended it to achieve?”
She said it was discouraging to see how indigenous shipping companies have gone under, just as seafarers have over time faced difficulties of getting seatime.
The Minister expressed satisfaction over the relationship of the Ministry and the Nigerian Navy and their synergy in areas including dredging, wreck removal and maritime security.
She also talked about the importance of documenting where and how the maritime industry is contributing to creating jobs in the government’s plan to remove 100 Nigerians from poverty in the next 10 years.
Her words: “I went to the Naval Dockyard to look at our assets and see how best we put them to use. That asset alone, the Floating Dock, could employ over 20,000 Nigerians. And the President said there is plan to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years.
“So, we have to document what contributions the maritime industry would make to that. We need to have data for us to know we have done our own part, look at the number of people who have been able to come out of poverty.
“That was why I was talking about what can be done within the seafarers’ programme; it is not just about engineers, not just about all the professionals, but chefs, cleaners. We need to encourage Nigerians to look at those areas as well.”