Nigerian Seafarer Development Programme (NSDP)
The Nigerian Seafarer Development Programme (NSDP), was initiated alongside the cabotage act of 2008 by the apex maritime agency NIMASA, in the year 2008. In attempt to revive the maritime sector through manpower, when there were drastic decline of seafarers in the country before and during this period. It’s aim was to greatly increase the presence or number of seafarers in the Nigerian maritime sector by training young Nigerians in maritime courses abroad.
When the scholarship programme kicked off, selected beneficiaries were sent to study marine engineering and marine transportation respectively in several countries. So far, over 4,000 maritime cadets have been trained by Nimasa in collaboration with the federal government. Whilst they were in their respective schools and countries, the cadets excelled and were of exceptional conduct, and their academic performance is still referred to till date.
The normal procedure after the academic work of each cadet, is one year shipboard training in other to get their certificates. In completion of their academic work at their various schools, several batches amounting to thousands have so far returned to the country awaiting their shipboard training for them to get the certificates that will qualify them to work as officers on ships. Sadly, the cadets have waited over a year for the said training but still no hope in sight. It seems to be that they have been abandoned by NIMASA and the federal government. Though promises were made on several occasions to the cadets to be expectant in the coming weeks, but weeks turned into months, months turned into a year and still counting.
As Nigerians believe in helping themselves if no help is forthcoming from the government, most of them have started making efforts to get the necessary requirements that will enable them board ships despite the near impossibility of achieving such feat. One of the requirements is the ‘’seaman discharge book’’ which is a prerequisite for boarding.
The discharge book is as important to seafarers as the international passport is to anyone willing to travel abroad. Without the international passport one cannot apply for visa let alone travel. Likewise without the discharge book, cadets or seafarers cannot apply to any company for placement. ‘’But for over a year, the said discharge book has been unavailable’’, and the said discharge book is under the purview of the apex maritime Agency NIMASA.
This has not only affected the NSDP scholars, but also self sponsored maritime cadets in the country, as they face same challenges in acquiring the discharge book for their last training. So far, attempts have been made by several representing group of cadets to contact the offices concerned to make available the discharge book. But has till date yielded no positive outcome.
It has become so bad that this unfortunate situation has made rubbish of all the efforts the cadets made to be outstanding in their academic work and has made them a liability in their various families. This also affects the nation which is trying to diversify the economy following the downward trend of crude prices as they represent a variable source of revitalisation of the maritime sector which has the potential of being the mainstay of the economy. We therefore call on the federal government, NIMASA and every agency to please expedite their shipboard training and in the absence of that, provide them the discharge book they need to source for placements themselves.
They alone, cannot raise their voices loud enough for those concerned to hear and come to their aid. Thus we plead to you to please be a voice for the voiceless by making this go as far as to the national headline. The present and the future of the Nigerian maritime sector solely lies on this. Please as a patriotic Nigerian, we urge you to please save your country’s maritime sector by making this go viral. THANK YOU FOR YOUR ANTICIPATED ASSISTANCE. GOD BLESS YOU, GOD BLESS NIGERIA
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