Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, said over the weekend that no country of the world spends as much as Nigeria in training seafarers.
Akpobolokemi discloesd this in Lagos on Saturday at a reception organized for 22 cadets trained under the Nigeria Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) and who recently graduated from the Arab Maritime Academy in Alexandra, Egypt, where they majored in Marine Engineering and Nautical Science.
“Four years ago, I came to NIMASA and met a very laudable programme that has to do with training our youths in seafaring. I felt it must be sustained. It has not been easy but we have to do it.
“I stand to be corrected, if there is any nation in the world today, who is committing as much huge resources as Nigeria in the training of seafarers. To train one seaman is a huge cost. NIMASA alone is sponsoring over 2,000 youths in different universities across the world. The programme is quite expensive but we have to do it. We’ll look for the money from anywhere in order to continue this programme”, Akpobolokemi stated. He however failed to disclose the amount spent by NIMASA over the past four years in executibg the NSDP.
He said the best way to guarantee peace in the society is to create jobs for the teeming youths, pointing out that no amount of guns or weapons could guarantee peace in a society if the youths were jobless, hence the determination of his agency to sustain the seafarers’ training initiative.
He said, “The best form of security is investing in the youths. No amount of guns or weapons can guarantee peace and security in any nation if the youths are idle. Today, the evolution of China as an industrial economy has debunked the age-long held notion that saw huge population as a disadvantage instead of as an asset. China has shown that a huge population, if well managed, can be to a country’s advantage.
“If we have a huge population of youths in Nigeria, we can turn this into an advantage by creating job opportunities like the National Seafarers Development Programme of NIMASA for the benefit of the country”.
The NIMASA Director-General also assured the new graduands that his agency will do everything possible to provide the cadets jobs.
“Investing in the youth is the best assurance for a peaceful nation,” he said.
Akpobolokemi disclosed that the students had completed their four-year training including sea-time experience mandatory for international standards in seafaring.
“There were criticisms when we started and people talked about sea-time. This programme has the sea-time component because it was our resolve.”
He said that there had been a quiet revolution to ensure that many Nigerians work in the cabotage trade as a way of encouraging local content in crewing.
He thanked the governments of Ebonyi, Ekiti, Ondo and Benue States for keying into the programme and urged other states to take a cue from them.
“Although, it is expensive but we have resolved to invest in the youth to build Nigeria,” Akpobolokemi said.
Also speaking, Chairman of the National Seafarers Welfare Board, Otunba Kunle Folarin, said NSDP was poised to make the Nigeria’s maritime industry one of the best in the world.
He expressed the hope that there would always be jobs for people, who had quality training in the industry with the more than 4,500 vessels berthing at the nation’s ports annually.
“With what NIMASA has started, I believe our maritime industry will be one of the best. There will also be jobs for these youths because more than 4,500 vessels call at our ports yearly,” Folarin said.
He advised the graduating cadets to remain focused and dedicated, adding that their Certificate of Competency had international value.
“Do great work for the nation because your profession is key to the development of the economy.
“Your Certificate of Competence is equivalent to currency which is recognised internationally,”he said.
One of the cadets Raphael Faboro, while speaking on behalf of his colleagues, expressed gratitude to NIMASA for the training, and requested that they should be assisted to get jobs.
“We thank NIMASA and we promise to be good ambassadors of the nation and we are prepared to serve diligently.
“We also request for more youths to be trained on the programme and we should be assisted to get jobs,” he said.–Ships and Ports