The National Seafarers’ Welfare Board of Nigeria NSWBN, has said that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA is not responsible for the detained seafarers.The board said rather the Agency has been of immense support and assistance in ensuring they have a better living condition in line with international best practices.

Meanwhile, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside has said that the importance of seaborne trade in global economic wellbeing cannot be overemphasised, as more than 90 per cent of goods are transported through the sea, which would not have been possible without the seafarers.

There are reports that the Nigerian Navy is currently detaining scores of Nigerian seafarers and some foreign ones on board some vessels allegedly used for illegal activities on the nation’s territorial waters, including illegal bunkering and crude oil theft. The reports have it that many of the foreign seafarers have been repatriated home while their Nigerian counterparts languish in detention without trial.

Chairman of the Board, Otunba Kunle Folarin who cleared the air when he led other members of the Board on a courtesy visit to the management of the Agency, said he thought it necessary to clear the air and exonerate NIMASA from the news making the rounds about the Agency abandoning seafarers.  He said the reverse is rather the case as NIMASA has always been in the forefront of ameliorating the plights of the seafarers as part of its statutory responsibility.

“For the records, NIMASA has no obligation for detained seafarers; rather they have been assisting us, especially in the area of their welfare”, Folarin said.

He therefore commended the Agency for taking the centre stage in the growth and development of Nigeria’s maritime industry by ensuring that Nigeria takes its rightful place in the comity of maritime nations. He also called on other stakeholders in the industry and Nigerians as a whole to support the quest of President Muhammadu Buhari to bring about a change to the industry, adding that it will in-turn affect the growth and development of the nation’s economy.

Folarin who doubles chairman of the Ports Consultative Council PCC also made a strong case for more support from the Agency regarding the activities and well-being of the seafarers and pledged the unflinching support of the Board to the Agency in order to ensure the mandates of the Agency are fully realised.

Director General of the Agency, Dr. Peterside, while speaking at the event, insisted that there would be no shipping without the seafarers, adding seaborne trade is crucial to the sustenance of the global economy as over 90 per cent of goods are transported through the sea.

The DG who was represented by the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Gambo Ahmed also said that there will be no shipping activity without the seafarers; hence they are the bedrock to realising a robust maritime business.

“For us in NIMASA, we are determined to ensure a better living condition for our seafarers as they are critical to the actualising of our mandates. The welfare of the seafarer determines a lot about the growth of any economy and on our part as an Agency, we will continue to ensure their well-being is topmost on priority”, the DG said.

He further assured the delegation that the Agency will continue to partner with them, noting that the overall goal is to realise a robust a virile economy.

Recall that the management of the agency under Peterside has continued to embrace collaboration as a means to achieving its mandates. NIMASA is the government Agency whose responsibility as enshrined in its enabling act, cuts across maritime labour activities, which directly concerns the well-being of the seafarers among other responsibilities.