It was commendation galore on Tuesday as 11 cadets sponsored by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), bagged Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) degrees of the South Shields Marine School, New Castle, United Kingdom.
The NSDP is a scholarship programme created by NIMASA in 2008 to encourage Nigerian youths to take to seafaring careers. The aim is to address the dearth of manpower in the maritime industry and help Nigeria earn much needed foreign exchange from the seaborne trade.
Under the NSDP, NIMASA aims to train 5,000 Nigerian seafarers by 2015 and 10,000 by 2020.
The 11 cadets who graduated on Tuesday were of Kaduna and Niger State origins. 60 per cent of their training fees and upkeep were paid by NIMASA while the remaining 40 per cent was borne by their state governments.
Four of the graduands were from Niger State while seven were from Kaduna State. Two of those from Kaduna State are women. The graduation ceremony of the eleven, along with over 30 others, held at the Little Haven Hotel, New Castle with parents and representatives of both Niger and Kaduna State governments in attendance. The Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, was represented at the event by the Deputy Director/Head Public Affairs, Mr. Isichie Osamgbi.
“This is a lifetime opportunity. I wanted to be a nurse but I learnt of the NSDP. I was selected from my local government and I really thank God for this. Now I am a marine engineer. I thank NIMASA and the Kaduna State Government for making this happen,” said Bridget Thomas, one of the two lady graduands.
The other lady graduand, Juliet Inze, was also full of excitement even as she described the training she has received over the past three years both at the AMET University, Chennai India and at the South Shields Marine School, New Castle, UK as “very demanding”.
One of the lecturers of the cadets at the South Shields Marine School described all the eleven Nigerian cadets as “very diligent.”
“The Nigerian cadets were very good. They worked hard and they showed a lot of seriousness and commitment to their studies here. They will surely turn out as good marine engineers,” Eric Bywaters, a lecturer in the Marine Engineering Department of the South Shields Marine School told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.
Another Marine Engineering Lecturer in the school, David Anderson said: “I was one of their lecturers here. They had very good work ethics. They related very well and freely with the other students irrespective of nationalities.”
NIMASA Director General, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, during a reception for the graduands admonished them to be good ambassadors of Nigeria in their callings.
While expressing the agency’s commitment to the full implementation of the NSDP, he said no fewer than 2,500 Nigerians are currently undergoing training in various parts of the world under the sponsorship NIMASA.
“NIMASA under the present leadership is fully committed to capacity building in line with its mandate. Nothing is too much to spend on developing our youths. This is also in line with the transformation agenda of His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan,” Akpobolokemi said through his representative, Mr. Isichie Osamgbi.
“The graduation of these cadets is our pride. We are delighted to see that the purpose of the NSDP is coming to fruition. The school they attended is a multinational school and you can hear the commendation and their academic achievements. This is a reputable school and it speaks volume that Nigerians are excelling here. This tells you that Nigeria has the potential to excel and we are confident that we will grow,” the NIMASA DG said.
He said so far, only 15 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have keyed into the NSDP initiative. He listed the States as Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Bunue, Kogi and Niger.
The others, according to him, are Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Lagos and Ondo States. He charged States who have not embraced the programme to do so immediately for the benefits of their indigenes.
The eleven graduands, who are expected to proceed to acquire seatime experience before returning to the South Shields Marine School to obtain their Certificates of Competency (COC) are: Yusuf Suleiman, Jiya Salihu Mohammed, Zizoh James Anto, John Kefas, Yusuf Jamilu and Sonmi Wuyah.
Others are: Juliet Inze, Bridget Thomas, Umar Tumaka, El-Yakub Mohammed and Ibrahim Abubakar Anas.