Lagos - The President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Greg Ogbeifun, on Thursday described the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) as structurally defective and a waste of government resources.
Ogbeifun made the remark in an interactive session with the Maritime Reporters' Association of Nigeria (MARAN) during the 2015 International Day of Seafarers titled: "Seafarers in the Democratic Dispensation: How far have we fared?"
He said that the programme by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was "just a contract-awarding programme".
He said that it was wrong for NIMASA to turn the programme into a contract-awarding jamboree.
"With due respect, the NSDP got to a point where it became a contract-awarding thing that people get contract to train cadets around the world.
"I am speaking from first-hand information, NSDP has been turned into a contract awarding programme and that is wrong.
"For instance, one of the contractors that get the contract took the cadets to Poland and when they finished in the classroom they were told to come back to Nigeria to get their sea-time and that was why you see them advertise that they need training vessels," he said.
Also read: Military to retain 'essential check points'
Ogbeifun said that the scheme was originally structured to fail because of the defect such as non-provision of training berth by the foreign institutions.
"If the scheme is working or well-structured, you tied the institution to train your cadets but no foreigners will want to see a Nigerian on his ship because they believe if they are already trained," he said.
Ogbeifun, who is a member of the 2012 Presidential Maritime Retreat Committee, said that ship owners would rather prefer cadets from Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron or Regional Maritime University, Ghana than foreign- trained cadets with no practical experience.
"If a product of NSDP come into my office and say I am one of the cadets of this scheme and I went to Malaysia or Philippines and I came out with first class I will congratulate him.
"We ship-owners do not need graduates but professionally trained cadets that come out from Oron or a maritime institutions or a structure like Regional University in Ghana that have affiliation with ship owners,’’ he said.
The Vice President, National Association of Masters Mariners, Captain Jide Ologunwa said that the agency neglected critical stakeholders while setting up the programme.
He described the NSDP as a jamboree that must be restructured.
"NSDP must stop being a jamboree. It must be redesigned to benefit the country and it must be tied to the opportunity in the country," Ologunwa