Maritime Academy of Nigeria
The Maritime Academy of Nigeria is a federally owned educational institute in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Originally called the Nautical College of Nigeria, it was established in 1979 to educate and train shipboard officers, ratings and shore-based management personnel. The first batch of cadets graduated in 1983. In 1988 the college's mandate was expanded to training all levels and categories of personnel for all facets of the Nigerian maritime industry. By the end of 2008, the academy had trained about 4,300 Nigerian Merchant Navy officers and more than 65,000 other workers in marine operations. The academy has an active alumni association, helping members to keep in touch and assist each other, as well as promoting improvements to standards for cadet training.
The academy occupies a large area of land on the waterfront in Oron, close to the Cross River approaches of the Port of Calabar in Cross River State and about 200 Kilometres from Port Harcourt, Rivers State. In April 2003, President Olusegun Obasanjo directed that work should start on construction of a jetty for the academy.
In February 2010 Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) said it had donated N30 million of safety training equipment to the academy. The equipment included a totally enclosed 50-person lifeboat, a davit-launched rescue boat and a twelve-person life-raft. NLNG had previously donated equipment worth over N100 million, and uses Nigerians from the academy for 60% of its crews. However, graduates of the Maritime Academy do not have access to oceangoing vessels for them to earn hours at sea, which is required for their professional qualification.
Demand and capacity
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that 50,000 seafarers are needed for the Nigerian shipping industry to realise its full potential. As of 2009, Nigeria had less than 3,000 seafarers. About 2,000 vessels were engaged in cabotage, or local trade between Nigerian ports, with mostly foreign crews. Announcing plans to open a new academy at Badagry, the head of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency said in 2008 that over 3,000 students apply each year for admission to the Oron-based academy but less than 1,000 are accepted. In October 2009 the academy's rector explained that the academy had to restrict the number of students accepted due to shortage of classrooms and accommodations. He denied bias in admission, and said the academy in fact made it easier for candidates from disadvantaged states to gain admission.
In April 2008 a delegation from the Norwegian ship owners' association visited the academy and discussed a collaborative training programme with the academy.
In October 2008 the Minister of State for Transport, Prince John Okechkwu Emeka, said the academy would soon be upgraded to become a degree-awarding institution. He also called for increased funding from the Federal government.
Quality of training
In May 2009 the academy was subject to severe criticism by the director of Lagos Channel Management. He said that even the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency had found that the academy did not meet international standards. Problems included lack of teaching facilities adequate to handle the number of students, and unavailability of seafaring vessels on which students could complete their mandatory one-year sea term. Students seeking proper training had to attend the Regional Maritime University in Accra, Ghana. Captain Thomas Kemewerighe, a graduate of the academy, said Nigeria does not have people qualified to provide proper training. He said most of the graduates ended up as "okada riders" (motorbike taxi operators).
In September 2009 the government announced that a project launched by the Federal Ministry of Transport, the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme, would send a first batch of 27 students to the Academy of Maritime Education and Training in India to study for Bachelor in Science and Bachelor in Engineering degrees in marine-related subjects. The academy was not considered for this program.
In August 2009 three human rights groups petitioned President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to investigate alleged cases of corruption and financial malpractices at the academy. They also claimed that 43 students had died in avoidable circumstances in the past year.
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- Ndubuisi Ugah (22 August 2009). "Groups Seek Probe of Maritime Academy". ThisDay. Retrieved 2010-03-22.