The Chief Inspector of Diving (CID), Mr Julius Ugwala has restated his commitment to ensuring the engagement of competent indigenous divers while also allowing expats to thrive in areas Nigeria has little or no capacity.

This statement is following a recent outburst by expat divers alleging that the Diving Advisory Board as well as the CID are primarily focused on ridding Nigerian waters of foreigners.

Mr. Julius Ugwala who took to LinkedIn to make a formal response stated that in line with the Local Content Act, competent Nigerians are to be accorded the first right of refusal and where such skills are unavailable incountry, expats would do the job.

Noting that the Act spells out that vessels trading on Nigerian waters must employ at least 70 per cent of indigenous people, Ugwala noted that the call for employment of locals is necessary to spur the growth in the sector.

His words;

“It will be unfair to have competent Nigerians sit at home while other nationals work on our territorial waters. That will be injustice, he said.”

Ugwala added that his advocacy for employment of competent local divers does not imply an outright dismissal of foreigners as the industry is large enough to accommodate all as long as competent Nigerians are given the opportunity to work.

” The industry is way too big and Nigerians alone can’t fill the gaps. It will take some time before we become fully dependent on ourselves. However, only a careless mother abandons her own children to feed those of others first.

“I am sure you’d agree that COMPETENT Nigerian divers have a place in the sector and should be employed. Expats too have their place but not at the expense of COMPETENT indigenous divers or the GROWTH of the sector”, the CID said.

 

Meanwhile expatriates divers and experts have reacted to the call stating that Nigerian divers need to work internationally and gain modern diving expertise which they can bring home to develop the sector locally.

Mr. Nicholas Roddy, 2nd Operations Manager at HybO2, said working internationally will give Nigerian divers the necessary exposure to match international best diving practices and infuse the same into the local diving industry.

His words:

“Until more Nigerian divers work internationally and then come home to work, they will not be exposed to higher standards and will be dependent on developments being imported by expats”.

“I have met too many Nigerian divers who have spent 20 years working in Nigeria and co sider themselves experts. Had they travelled, they would be better than good and would be the real leaders of the next generation of new Nigerian divers. Healthy competition raises standards”, Roddy said.

Another diver, Olufemi Ogun- Johnson, a Trainee Dive Supervisor – Hydro drive Group said the CID is not depriving other expats from working in Nigeria, but is rather paving opportunities for indigenous divers so as to build our local capacity.

“Even the most advanced diving industries in the world still have expats coming in to work. The aim of the CID as articulated, is not to deprive expats opportunities but for COMPETENT indigenous professionals to thrive”.

“Expats I believe will never seize in an industry all over the world because that is one of the major medium of technology transfer, industry practice regulation and knowledge transfers”.

“Ideas like this builds competency if well harnessed. So please don’t see it as a means of bringing to disrepute the efforts of expats, but as an industry best practice model that every nation needs to develop internally”, he stated.

Ugwala noted the call is geared towards challenging the indigenous diving industry to growth and build local capacity for the long haul.

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