The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has granted 20 seafarer cadets who graduated with distinction from various foreign universities automatic employment in the agency.
Dr Dakuku Peterside, Director General of NIMASA, announced the gesture during the flag off of the Phase 1 Sea time training for 239 cadets on Tuesday in Lagos.
The 20 lucky seafarers, including three females, were among 239 cadets that graduated in Nautical Science, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Transportation in Philippines and Egypt.
Peterside said 150 cadets were bound for on-board training at Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transportation in Alexandria, Egypt while the rest 89 would have their sea time training at South Tyneside College, United kingdom.
He said that the training was aimed at ameliorating the dearth of certified and qualified seafarers and the depletion of the nation’s pool of seafarers due to age and migratory instinct for greener pastures.
“The training scheme was implemented in September 2009 to compliment full implementation of the Cabotage Act, 2003 which is geared towards strengthening indigenous tonnage capacity with cadinal objectives being that coastal vessels are to be exclusively manned by Nigerians.
“Presently, the programme has over 243 Graduates and 1600 cadets at various stages of completion of the programme out of which 887 are ready for sea-time training.
“Sea-time training is a critical aspect of the training of seafarers as it entails practical on board training on sea going vessels, with cadets spending a minimum of nine to twelve months on board ocean going vessels.
“Berth spaces are not easy to come by, therefore one of the biggest challenges we had was sourcing for berth spaces for the cadets, coupled with the desire of this administration to follow due process in all our dealings.
“We are pleased that we did not fall into the temptation of taking short cuts at any time, we have therefore engaged various Maritime Training Institutions to provide this essential service,” Peterside said.
According to him, the agency chose the maritime training institutions strategically to boost the acceptability of Nigerian Certificate of Competence (CoC) or tickets in other climes with long term goal of providing more jobs for Nigerian seafarers on board vessels from other nationalities.
Also speaking, the Vice President, Arab Academy of Egypt Mr Alnosy Balbaa, granted the three female cadets scholarship to pursue their masters degree programmes.
Balbaa said that Nigerian cadets had demostrated good behaviour which had also showned in thier performance.
In her goodwill message, Mrs Margret Onyema-Orakusi, Chairman of Shipowners Forum, commeded the cadets and gave the three female cadets with distictions $5,000 dollars each to support their studies and encourage others.
She advised them to be good ambassador of Nigeria as well as the NIMASA which gave them such opportunity to excel in life.
A maritime lawyer, Mr Mike Igbokwe, said that the Cabotage Act was enacted in 2003 to enable ships plying Nigerian waters to be owned, manned and built by Nigerians.
He said that many of the trained cadets would be employed if the Act was fully implemented
‘I am encouraged and so happy that Nigeria will begin to man vessels. He supported the student with N500, 000.
The Acting President, Nigeria Ship Owners Association (NISA), Mr Aminu Umar, also donated N2 million on behalf of organization and urged the cadets to put in their best.
“We are ready to take some of you in our vessels if you are ready. I am begging you to use all the opportunities that majority of us were not opportune to have,” Umar said.
Also, Mr Emmanuel Olori, a maritime Engineer, advised the cadets to forge ahead and make the country proud.
“I stopped working as a ship captain since 1994 but I must tell you that sea carrier is not an easy profession.
“You have to abandon your family, friends and loved ones for months, you may be short of food and the ship must continue moving because of it peculiarities,”Opori said.
He supported each of the 20 distinction cadets with N100,000.