President of Nigeria Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has urged 655 trainee cadets of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), who are being sent on foreign training programmes, to be good ambassadors of the country. This brings the number of sponsored cadet seafarers to 2,505.
Accompanied by the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, the Nigerian President also flagged off three security and enforcement boats newly acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
While addressing the cadets at the Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre in Apapa, Lagos, President Jonathan said that the young Nigerians should consider themselves privileged and therefore exhibit a sense of duty to the nation.
“You should see yourselves as representatives of the country. You must shy away from anything that will bring shame to Nigeria, be disciplined and law abiding and remain diligent in your studies and trainings so as to come back after the training as proud Nigerians, worthy seafarers and ambassadors,” Jonathan added.
The Minister Umar announced that the Federal Government has commenced the processes for the establishment of the Maritime University at Okerenkoko in Delta State, while NIMASA also has Institutes of Maritime Studies in four Nigerian universities – University of Lagos, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State and Niger Delta University, Bayelsa.
He said that the objective of these Institutes is to contribute to the production of high quality future global maritime leaders and professionals through quality maritime education, training and research.
“Also the Institutes will create opportunities for mutual exchange of knowledge and best practices with stakeholders to address the deep capacity gap in the maritime industry,” the Minister explained.
In his welcome address, the Director General of NIMASA, Mr Ziakede Patrick Akpolobokemi said that the programme had recorded significant milestones with 15 state governments having embraced the initiative.
He expressed optimism that the NSDP would pave the way for Nigeria in becoming Africa’s hub for the supply of skilled maritime human capital.
“The pragmatic expectation of the Nigerian maritime industry is that the NSDP will enable the development of Nautical Scientists, Naval Architects and Marine Engineers who will bridge capacity gaps in Nigeria’s ship building value chain, ship manning and contemporary elements of ships’ operation and navigation,”the Director General declared.
He further said: “We would like to put on record that the Nigerian oil and gas sector is also in a desperate waiting game to enjoy the fruits of the NSDP. As the oil and gas sector gravitates towards the maximization of the Nigerian content in the fabrication of oil and gas platforms and sundry marine engineering activities, we assure that results of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme will provide requisite skill for present and future companies in this regard.”
The cadets are expected to undergo academic, technical and sea time training in various maritime institutions in Egypt, India, the Philippines and Romania relating to nautical science, marine engineering and naval architecture, with a view to becoming future master mariners.
The three commissioned boats have the facilities to combat piracy and illicit crimes in Nigerian water ways.
Information from World Maritime News was used in this report.