29 September 2014, Lagos – No country in the world presently is committing as much resources as Nigeria in the area of training its citizens in seafaring, so says the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi.
The NIMASA boss made this assertion Saturday in Lagos, at a reception organized for 22 Nigerian youths, 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 made it clear that the best way to guarantee peace in any society was 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.
In his words, “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 Delta State born Chief Executive Officer boasted that in a few years time, Nigeria would be competing with countries like The Philippines and Singapore, universally acclaimed as the world’s best in the production of seafarers whose remittances back home ran into several billions of dollars annually.
“Our vision is to create a composite manpower to handle our Cabotage regime and to export seafarers like The Philippines and Singapore. We are going to create a pool of manpower. It takes much to train seafarers unlike the conventional professionals. In the next few years, we’ll be competing with The Philippines in terms of seafarers turnout and exporting them to the world”, he remarked.
On his agency’s determination to sustain the programme despite the daunting cost, Akpobolokemi stated, “We are going to go to the villages, to the internet, the mass media, to create the awareness. We don’t want foreigners to continue to dominate manpower in Nigeria again. We shall surpass The Philippines in terms of remittance of money home”.
The NIMASA boss assured the 22 graduates, who received commendation plaques from him at the Four Points by Sheraton, Victoria Island, assured the young seafarers of jobs as they entered the labour market, saying the agency would find a way to secure them work places.
“The job is going to be available. We have to bring in some radicalism into our operations to ensure that these graduates get jobs”, he asserted.
He assured that the same way they proved critics wrong on the doubts over the possibility of the cadets securing seatime berths onboard ocean-going vessels, would be the same fashion they would adopt to secure them jobs.
According to him, “We embedded seatime training into this programme. We are not going to deviate from this. Without seatime training, this programme is incomplete”.
He thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for his unflinching support towards the programme, adding that he had assured that whatever NIMASA needed to execute the project would be given in order to realize the objective of the exercise.
– Daily Newswatch