Stakeholders in the maritime sector of the economy have hailed the strides recorded since the initiation and execution of the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) over a decade ago.
They also stressed the need for the sustainability of the programme so that the main purpose for which it was initiated would not be defeated in the years ahead.
The stakeholders who took turns to speak in Lagos recently at the flag-off an event to herald the departure of NSDP cadets overseas for their sea time experience were full of praise for the successes recorded since the beginning of the programme.
The event which was organized by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) attracted key players of the maritime industry from far and near.
The flag off which was in the third phase of the NSDP also marked the sending off of new cadets to sea while graduating the returning set from phase two.
The erstwhile Director General, NIMASA Dr. Ade Dosunmu in his goodwill message, expressed joy that the NSDP which was initiated 11 years ago is still waxing strong.
Apparently elated that NSDP which was initiated during his tenure as the helmsman of Nigeria’s apex regulatory authority, Dosunmu said: “I’m elated with the manner in which NIMASA is implementing this programme which was initiated 11 years ago. I thank the Minister, Right 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.”
On his part, the promoter of Charkin Maritime Academy (CMA), Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Sir Charles Wami called for more partnership with indigenous maritime institutions on sea time training.
Wami enjoined 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 stakeholders who also drummed support for NSDP include the NLNG Ship Management Limited, one of the highest employers of seafarers in Nigeria, retired merchant navy captain and former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho.
Amaechi had earlier in the occasion, 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 do not 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.
Amaechi also called on NIMASA to consider training institutions in Nigeria when sending cadets for sea time, as there are some with such capacity.
The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh had 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.”
The Chairman Board of NIMASA, Rt. Hon Asita Honourable, on his part, expressed pride that the NSDP will make an impact in the maritime sector. He tasked the participants to do well as ambassadors which will in turn stir more Nigerian youth to participate in it,
According to him, the programme will eventually help to fill the unemployment gap in the country.