Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi has promised to prove doubters of the agency wrong on finding job placement for the newly graduated cadets.
The DG who spoke recently while receiving the first set of the graduated cadets from the Arab Maritime Academy, Alexandra, Egypt said the agency would provide jobs for the cadets.
He said, “The same way we proved critics wrong on the doubts over the possibility of the cadets securing seatime berths onboard ocean-going vessels, would be the same way we will adopt to secure them jobs.
He stated further, “We embedded seatime training into this programme. We are not going to deviate from this. Without seatime training, this programme is incomplete.”
Akpobolokemi, assured that all the 22 newly graduated young seafarers trained under the agency’s National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) would get jobs.
The graduates spent over four years at the Arab Maritime Academy, Alexandra, Egypt, studying Marine Engineering and Nautical Sciences.
“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 said.
The DG’s assurance came as a response to a request made by a representative of the parents of the graduates, Mr. Felix Ayu, who pleaded with the NIMASA boss to ensure that the young seafarers would not end up in the labour market.
“When the programme started in 2009 little did we know what it was all about. We made sure that those picked came directly from the villages with poor background. With their successful graduation now, their parents are in full celebration hysteria. This is unprecedented. Our fear now is that of policy somersault. The spirit of continuity displayed by the Director General is unequalled.
“On behalf of the parents of the graduates, I want to appeal for the immediate appointment of this first batch of graduates in order to give hope for those coming after them and assuage the sufferings of their families”, he stated.
Akpobolokemi also asserted that no country in the world presently was committing as much resources as Nigeria in the area of training its citizens in seafaring.
“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”.
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.