Inadequate funding of Maritime training institutions in Nigeria has been identified as a major setback in their quest to be better positioned to compete favourably with their counterparts across the globe.
A cross section of Chief Executives of some Maritime training institutions in Nigeria who spoke with our correspondent in Lagos also fingered poor state of infrastructure as responsible for their ordeals.
Speaking on the matter, the Rector, Emdee Shipping and Maritime College, Lagos, Mr. Chigozie Chikere stated that funding had been a common challenge especially to the privately owned institution as the government was not willing to support them.
Chikere noted that rather than the government coming out to help them grow so as to complement its efforts, they would chose to go into unnecessary competition with them which according to him were often counterproductive in the end.
According to him,” our challenges include finance, infact, the private institutions in Nigeria are having this common challenge. The government is not doing well, NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency) that we are talking about, rather than building up and assisting the existing institutions to do well, they are busy establishing new maritime training centres. There is one in UNILAG, there is one in UNN, there is one in IBB University and there is now the Nigerian Maritime University and there is the MAN, Oron”.
“Rather than encouraging these investors to see how they can survive, what they are now doing is that they are creating a competition. That competition could lead to corner cutting also because when an investor cannot meet up with NIMASA and rather than throwing in the towel, he will find a way to break even”.
He disclosed that the lack of fund notwithstanding, colleges like Emdee Shipping and Maritime College had what it takes to produce world class graduates saying that the financial setback was a common phenomenon even as he said that they would want the government to intervene in the area of assisting them with funds.
“Because the institutions they have on ground cannot accommodate all the students seeking admission, investors should be encouraged for providing an alternative and the way to encourage them is that that money government should have spent in providing more institutions should have been given to these people as a bailout loan for them to really do a good job”, he said.
On his part, the Rector, Certified Institute of Shipping, (CIS), Rev. Dr. Alex Okwuashi opined that there were lots of things that the institution needed to be done but was unable to do them owing to paucity of funds.
He lamented the inability of the commercial banks as well as the government to help them with loans, regretting that the development had made the pace of academic and infrastructural development in the institution to be slow.
He said,” another challenge that we have is funding, there are lots of things to be done but we do not have adequate funding to execute them. Banks are not giving loan, we need to source for funds. We have been going around but we have not been getting responses from the banks”.
He however disclosed that the institution had been receiving some financial support from some good spirited individuals and corporate organizations who had come to identify with them in the past but quickly added that that had only a little it can do.
He therefore called on the federal government to put interest in the activities of the private maritime training institutions by partnering with them to see the areas it could come in handy to offset some of the financial responsibilities of these institutions which according to him compliment the government’s owned institutions.