ADDRESS OF THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE NIGERIAN MARITIME ADMINISTRATION AND SAFETY AGENCY (NIMASA) ON THE OCCASION OF THE FLAG OFF OF THE PHASE 1 OF NIMASA FULL SPOSORED SEA TIME TRAINING, FOR NIGERIAN SEAFARERS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (NSDP) CADETS BOUND FOR ARAB ACADEMY FOR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND MARINE TRANSPORT, ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT AND AWARD OF PLAQUE OF RECOGNITION FOR NSDP CADETS WITH OUTSTANDING ACADEMIC ACHIEVMENTS
Good afternoon, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, today is a momentous occasion, it represents a watershed moment in our journey and collective resolve to develop maritime capacity in Nigeria and demonstrates our firm commitment to vigorously pursue indigenous human capacity in line with global best practices. I stand before you to announce that One Hundred and Fifty (150) Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) Cadets are bound for Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Marine Transportation in Alexandria, Egypt for the commencement of their on-board training in the first phase of the fully sponsored batch. In addition, another group of eighty nine (89) cadets also within the first phase will be proceeding to the South Tyneside College (STC), UK for their on-board sea-time training, making a total of two hundred and thirty nine cadets in the first phase of this programme departing to Egypt consist of seventy seven (77) Deck and seventy three (73) Engine cadets.
Permit me, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen to take you on a brief journey of this programme so that you may appreciate how far we have come. The Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme 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 timeously implemented in September, 2009 to compliment full implementation of the 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 not looked back since September, 2009.
Presently, the programme has over 243 Graduates and 1600 cadets at various stages of completion of the programme out of which 887 are ready for sea-time training. Sea-time training is a critical aspect of the training of seafarers as it entails practical on board training on sea going vessels, with cadets spending a minimum of nine to twelve months on board ocean going vessels. 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.
I am delighted to announce to you that the Agency painstakingly chose the Maritime Training Institutions strategically to position Nigeria in bilateral relationships to boost the acceptability of Nigerian Certificate of Competence (CoC) or tickets in other climes with long term goal of providing more jobs for Nigerian seafarers on board vessels from other nationalities. The process and effort put in by the Agency to arrive at this auspicious occasion has been enormous, but it is a social responsibility the Agency has shouldered and we are sure that the Maritime sub-sector of Nigeria will be better for it as the fruit of the reward will be in multiples.
At this juncture, it is pertinent to first congratulate all the cadets who are on the first list for On-Board Training and reiterate that the whole country is depending on you, you are therefore expected to be good ambassadors of Nigeria in Egypt, we expect nothing but the best, given the choice the nation has made especially at a period in our national lives where other sectors of the economy are yearning for funding, we implore you to bring the flair and “can-do” spirit of Nigeria that has caught the attention of the world in various fields like medicine, engineering, law and even ICT across the globe to bear. For the Cadets who did not make the list, there is nothing to worry about, every one of you will be offered an opportunity to go on sea-time in 2018 and beyond according to schedule.
In closing, I have left the best for the last, among us here are twenty Cadets who left the shore of this great country and excelled academically, achieving feats in some instances that not even the nationals of the host countries had managed to. I am proud to inform you that these NSDP Cadets shattered the glass ceiling in the Philippines, the United Kingdom and Egypt, they will continuously be used as reference points for academic excellence. I congratulate all of you who have made the country proud and to encourage this honour you have brought the nation, Management of the Agency will award automatic employment to all those who bagged first class honours in this group that we are presenting this award today. I implore those of you bound to sail to come back with even higher laurels.
On behalf of the Executive Management, I thank Professor Balbaa Alsnosy the Vice President, African and Asian Affair, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport and his team for their commitment to the NSDP project, it is on record that you have been a worthy partner. I thank the Ambassador and members of staff of the embassy of Egypt in Nigeria for their continuous support and encouragement and I specially thank the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Gambo Ahmed, members of Staff of the Maritime Labour Services/ NSDP Unit, the entire Management and staff of the Agency for working assiduously for the success of the programme and this occasion. Finally, let me profusely thank the Honourable Minister of Transportation Rt. Honourable Rotimi Amaechi, who has been up and doing about growing the maritime sector in this country and to say to him to count NIMASA as number one supporter and one Agency that will go ahead to support you to turn around the fortunes of the maritime sector in Nigeria. Thank you all for listening.