By Ignatius Ushie
Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has flagged off the third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), sending off new Cadets to sea, while graduating the returning set from phase two.
Speaking at the flag-off event organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA in Lagos, Amaechi urged the cadets, some of whom are setting sail to Greece and others to India, to be of good behaviour and represent Nigeria well.
He advised those who don’t get hired overseas at the end of their sea time training to return back to the country and contribute to the nation’s development, as opportunities are gradually opening up for them in Nigeria.
“For those who are leaving, please do not embarrass the country. You are not just ambassadors of NIMASA, you are ambassadors of Nigeria. You have to be of utmost behaviour. You have to study and pass your exams. There are so many youths who want this opportunity that you have. It means that you must show NIMASA that they did not make any mistake in choosing you. After training, some of you will be hired overseas, the ones that are not hired overseas, please come back to the country. This country is changing in time. You will see the changes as you come. It won’t be easy, it’s difficult, but the changes are coming gradually,” he said.
The Minister also called on NIMASA to consider training institutions in Nigeria when sending cadets for sea time, as there are some with such capacity.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh in his opening remarks, stated that the agency is constantly working to ensure that its maritime education and training meets international standards. To the cadets, he said “the training you will receive will put you in global shipping quarters. Be good ambassadors of Nigeria, and remember that you are expected to show returns on this huge national investment.”
On his part, the Chairman Board of NIMASA, Asita Honourable Asita, expressed pride that the NSDP will make an impact in the Nigerian Maritime sector. He tasked the participants to do well as ambassadors which will in turn stir more Nigerian youth to participate in the Maritime sector, adding that the programme will help fill the unemployment gap in the country.
Former DG NIMASA Dr Ade Dosunmu, in his goodwill message, expressed joy that the NSDP which was initiated 11 years ago is still waxing strong.
He said, “I’m elated with the manner in which NIMASA is implementing this programme which was initiated 11 years ago. I thank the Minister, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for providing purposeful leadership in the maritime sector. The sector has witnessed unprecedented growth since you became Minister. The removal of wrecks in our waters has commenced, piracy has reduced drastically; I commend this administration.”
Also speaking was Sir Charles Wami , Managing Director of Charkin Maritime Academy, who called for more partnership with indigenous maritime institutions on sea time training. He advised the cadets to be disciplined and assured them of success, stating that, “On board a ship, cadets are not supposed to be heard but seen. As long as the sea never dries, there’ll be job for you as mariners. This profession is one that you can be proud of.”
Other partners and dignitaries with goodwill messages at the event include, the NLNG Ship Management Limited, one of the highest employers of seafarers in Nigeria, Retired Merchant Navy Captain and former Minster of Interior, Emmanuel Iheanacho, among others.