Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has flagged off the third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), sending off new cadets to sea, while graduating a returning set from the second phase.
During the flag-off ceremony organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Friday in Lagos, Amaechi urged the 200 NSDP-3 cadets, who will receive training in India and Greece, to be of good behaviour and represent Nigeria well.
He commended the resilience of NIMASA in ensuring the success and expansion of the programme since its commencement in 2009.
But the Minister charged the agency to consider local institutions in subsequent phases of the NSDP, which is fully funded by NIMASA.
“The doggedness of NIMASA in ensuring the success of this programme is commendable, but I would like the Agency to include is more local training institutions that meet the standard required for the training,” Amaechi said.
To the cadets, the Minister said, “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 good 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.”
He advised those who might not get the opportunity to be hired overseas at the end of their sea time training to return home and contribute to national development, saying opportunities are gradually opening up for them in Nigeria.
“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.
In his welcome address, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the third phase of NSDP, called NSDP Tera, had addressed many of the challenges encountered in the previous stages of the programme. Jamoh said with this latest phase, the country was set for a better, more innovative maritime manpower development experience.
He said, “NSDP-3 brings our maritime manpower development strategy to the next level. It is a complete package, which offers the cadets everything they need to qualify as seafarers, from shore-based training, to sea time training, and attainment of Certificate of Competency (CoC).”
On the issue of international recognition of Nigerian CoCs, Jamoh stated that the agency was working on signing bilateral agreements with some countries to facilitate greater recognition and acceptance of the country’s seafarers as well as optimisation of the benefits of the programme.
“To prepare ourselves for the coming opportunities, the Agency will make concerted efforts to sign bi-lateral agreements of mutual recognition of Certificate of Competency to open opportunities for Nigerian seafarers to work abroad.
“We are working with industry experts to ensure that our Maritime Education and Training (MET) meets international standards,” he said.
Chairman, Board of NIMASA, Asita Honourable Asita, extolled the impact of the NSDP in the country’s maritime sector. Asita encouraged the cadets to be a good example and encuragement to other youth in the country.
Former Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Ade Dosunmu, in his goodwill message, expressed delight with the pace of implementation of NSDP by NIMASA.
Dosunmu, who created the NSDP during his tenure as NIMASA DG, emphasised the huge economic benefits of the programme in terms of foreign currency repatriation and employment creation, among others, and called for its sustenance and continued expansion.
The former Director General commended 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,” he said.
There were goodwill messages from other industry stakeholders, including the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited, one of the highest employers of seafarers in Nigeria, and former Minister of Interior, Emmanuel Iheanacho, among others.
NSDP is an interventionist programme initiated to address the dearth of trained and certified seafarers in the Nigerian maritime industry. More than 2,000 Nigerians have been trained under the NSDP since its commencement in 2009.