No fewer than 655 cadets were yesterday in Lagos sent forth by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for maritime training programmes overseas.
The cadets were those shortlisted from the 1,500 applicants examined and screened for the 2013/2014 admission into various maritime training institutions abroad to study nautical sciences, marine engineering and naval architecture up to degree level.
The cadets are sponsored wholly by NIMASA under a new scheme of the Nigeria Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP) – a programme initiated by NIMASA pursuant to its statutory responsibility of human capacity development in the nation’s maritime industry.
In his welcome speech at the cadets’ send-forth ceremony, the NIMASA Director-General, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, said that the essence of the programme was to ensure that Nigeria produces qualified seafarers sufficient to meet manpower demands of the local and international shipping community.
He said that, with this human capacity development programme initiative, Nigeria will, in the next 10 years, be ranked among the first five in the comity of maritime nations.
“This programme has so far recorded a huge milestone; I therefore have the singular privilege to announce that the departure of these selected young Nigerians brings to 2, 505 trainee cadets expected to undergo academic, technical and sea time training under the programme. It is also encouraging to state that 15 State Governments have shown faith in this programme as at the date of this event,” Akpobolokemi said.
He went on: “The Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme is a demonstration of our clear understanding that investments in the development of maritime human capacity, is our surest path to Nigerian maritime sector growth. Without isolating same from our strategic efforts to enhance the capacity of Nigerian ship-operators to acquire more vessels, we shall not be distracted in our attempt to turn the attention of the global maritime business community to Nigeria for the employment of qualified mariners by the year 2020.”
He said that NIMASA had taken a bold step further of fully taking up sponsorship of the cadets and that his administration is determined to ensure the continuity of the scheme.
“After sending the first 525 students in November, last year, there was another 80 that was sent to Egypt, another 100 that was sent to Libya. Today we are sending another 655 cadets and that brings the number about a 1400 cadets which over ninety percent of our target of 1500 cadets fully sponsored NIMASA youths outside the country,” he said.
The NIMASA boss urged the fresh cadets to exhibit a high sense of Nigerian citizenship during their stay abroad reminding them of how privileged they are to be enjoying the benefits of the programme.
Also speaking, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, commended NIMASA for keeping faith with the NSDP scheme, and nurturing it to its present level.
I”n the area of capacity building, the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) is making steady progress. NIMASA is successfully running the Programme for training all categories of Seafarers. So far, a total number of 805 trainees out of the targeted 1500 beneficiaries in the first phase are under the full sponsorship of NIMASA. The 655 trainees we are sending forth today bring to 1,460 trainees, the total number of Nigerian youths benefiting from the Programme,” Umar said.
The Minister added: “These laudable initiatives, which are commendable, could not have come at a better than now time when the administration is driving the Transformation Agenda and focusing on exploring avenues for advancing the economic fortunes of our beloved country, Nigeria towards improving the lot of the citizenry and actualising the programme encapsulated in the Agenda.”