From left: A maritime stakeholder, Mr. Emmanuel Ilori,  Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Vice President, Arab Academy For Science, Technology And Maritime Transport, Dr. Alsnosy Balbaa, Executive Director, Maritime Labour & Cabotage Services, NIMASA, Mr. Gambo Ahmed, Executive Director, Finance & Administration, NIMASA, Mr. Bashir Jamoh, Executive Director, Operations, NIMASA Engr. Rotimi Fashakin and another maritime Stakeholder, Barrister Mike Igbokwe, SAN and some of the newly graduated NSDP cadets during the flag off in Lagos recently.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA has announced its decision to offer employment opportunities to 20 cadets under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme NSDP, who made first class in their chosen fields of study.

Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who made this disclosure during the flag-off ceremony of the first phase of the sea time training for cadets fully sponsored by NIMASA, expressed delight that the commencement training programme brings a glimmer of hope for Nigeria’s maritime industry.

While acknowledging that dearth of sea time berth is a global challenge, which the International Maritime Organisation IMO has also admitted, he said that Nigeria is leaving no stone unturned in changing the tide, hence NIMASA’s determination to ensure that all the cadets in the NSDP scheme get the mandatory sea time training in batches.

“So far the NSDP initiative has produced 243 graduates, 1,600 cadets at various stages of completion of the programme out of which 887 are ready for sea-time training”, the DG said.

It was gathered that in the first phase of the programme, 150 cadets under the scheme are bound for Arab Academy of Science, Technology and Marine Transportation in Alexandria, Egypt to commence their mandatory sea-time training, 89 others are bound for the South Tyneside College, United Kingdom for their on-board sea-time training, making it a total of 239 in the first phase of the programme.

He said: “As some of you may already know, berth spaces are not easy to come by, therefore one of the biggest challenges we had was sourcing for berth spaces for the cadets, coupled with the desire of this administration to follow due process in all our dealings. We are pleased that we did not fall into the temptation of taking short cuts at any time, we have therefore engaged various Maritime Training Institutions to provide this essential service”.

He also used the opportunity to congratulate the cadets and noted that they are the ambassadors of the country and enjoined them to make Nigeria proud as they are expected to return to the country after their training as better professionals that will help develop Nigeria’s maritime sector. “The least we expect from you is to make our country proud”, the DG reiterated.

Dr. Peterside thanked the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi for his support and commitment to the growth of the nation’s maritime sector and assured him of the Agency’s continuous support in his quest to transform the maritime industry.

“Let me profusely thank the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi who has been up and doing about growing the maritime sector in Nigeria and to say to him to count NIMASA as number one supporter and one Agency that will go ahead and support him to turn around the fortunes of the nation’s maritime sector”, Dr. Peterside said.

The NIMASA DG also thanked stakeholders and industry players and called on them to continue to partner the Agency in its quest for a robust and more virile maritime industry

The event was graced by key stakeholders in the maritime industry who gave various goodwill messages; Barrister Margaret Orakwusi, Barrister Mike Igbokwe, SAN, Mr. Aminu Umar and Engineer Emmanuel Ilori, who all expressed delight at the performance of the Cadets with awards of cash prices to the Cadets with distinctions.

The Cadets were admonished to count themselves privileged and as such should remain good ambassadors of Nigeria in their host countries.

They unanimously commended the Dr. Dakuku Peterside led Management of NIMASA and stating that the decision of the NSDP is a step in the right direction as it will further boost the professional expertise in the Nigeria maritime sector.

The high point of the event was the award of scholarship for Master Degrees by the Arab Academy to three female cadets who had distinctions in their fields of study.

The NSDP scheme was conceived in 2008 as a deliberate policy to ameliorate the dearth in certified and qualified seafarers and of course the depletion of seafarers in our national pool due mainly to age and migratory instinct for greener pastures by seafarers. The NSDP scheme was implemented in September, 2009 to complement full implementation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act, 2003, which in itself is geared towards strengthening indigenous tonnage capacity with one of its cardinal objectives being that coastal vessels are to be exclusively manned by Nigerians.

The dearth in certified and qualified seafarers in Nigeria was a poignant reminder and a wake-up call for the agency, the NSDP scheme has kept fate with this vision since 2009 when it came on stream.