Miss Gift Onome Uyere, a Post Graduate Diploma Student from the Nigeria Maritime University won the 2022 AMSAY Conference Speech Writing and Presentation Competition organised as part of activities at the just concluded 6th AMSAY Conference held recently in Apapa, Lagos.
As the news of Miss Gift’s victory at the maiden Speech Making Contest continue to trend in the Nigerian maritime sector and beyond, many continue to wonder what Gift said that made her beat other 13 contenders to emerge the winner.
In this special report, Platform Reporters bring you the full text of the Speech written and presented by Gift at the AMSAY Conference. The speech is entitled, “Roadmap To Solving The Challenges Of Nigerian Maritime Cadets”. Enjoy the excerpts.
“It is not the ship so much as the skilful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage”- George William Curtis.
The quest for achieving both individual and collective goals is a continuous process that is possible with proper planning. There is no exception to seafarers and young maritime cadets/students around the world, who stand as major players in this massive industry in all diversified maritime countries within the globe.
The maritime industry which is a sub-sector of the transport sector accounts for nearly 90 per cent of the transport requirements of the world Ikokide and Aro (2000).
It’s quite unfortunate that the lack of promotion of seafaring as a career at the high school or college level, particularly among female students, is on the rise. Despite all the challenges, the future holds exciting opportunities the diverse group of young and energetic sailors exhibit vigour, discipline, and patriotism.
Government under the administration of NPA, NIMASA need to encourage the training of maritime cadets/students locally in our institutions in the practice of shipping and genuinely implement the Cabotage Act. (Ndikom, 2004).
This presentation examines the challenges that occur during the formal education and sea training period of maritime cadets and seafarers.
The Major Certifications for a Maritime Cadet
According to Wikipedia: ‘A deck cadet or trainee navigational deck officer, or nautical apprentice is one who has to learn the basic duties of a deck officer on board a ship’.
Below are outlined major certificates a maritime cadet is expected to have:
- STCW: STCW is known as the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 sets minimum qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships and large yachts (Wikipedia).
STCW stands for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping and is a worldwide convention that ensures a lateral standard of training is achieved across all countries in the world.
Who Is STCW For? Anyone wishing to work on commercial vessels over 24 metres in length is required to possess STCW qualifications/courses before being employed. To be hired and to fill the position, you will be assigned, you’ll need certain courses and qualifications.
The four basic STCW courses are as follows:
A. Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities
B. Basic Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting
C. Personal Survival Techniques
D. Elementary First Aid
- Seafarer’s Medical Certificate: This medical certificate shows the state of fitness of a sailor. Sailors’ health, immunization history, and family and social background are also assessed. An analysis of drugs, blood group and genotype, and heart status is performed. Medical certificates are also detailed for the department (deck, engine, catering). The certificate is issued by all accredited hospitals and clinics.
- Seaman’s Record Book and Certificate of Discharge: Essentially, it is a document that describes the sea-time experiences of sailors and is stamped by the master. The discharge book is issued by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and is valid for five years. Your discharge must be counter stamped by the shipping master of the Flag state administration, NIMASA before you can be given eligibility.
Nigerian Maritime Cadets: Challenges and Solutions.
- Lack of Mandatory Knowledge and Need for Maritime Institutions: Knowledge is a mix of experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight that forms the framework for new experience and information.
The demand for specialized maritime training institutions is high due to an increase in the number of maritime cadets who need training. It is a huge and complex industry, which is constantly being affected by global trends and by advances in technology.
Maritime training centres should be one of the priorities under NIMASA expected to improve the standards of Basic Training Centres for cadets and seafarers to engage in mandatory training recognized by the IMO.
The IMO will recognize Nigeria more as one of the leading maritime countries, not just by having good seaports. But a country that trains locals and foreign students with goals for the betterment of the maritime sector as a whole. We need that vision for the maritime sector with a distinguished maritime training institution.
- The problem of Adapting to Technical Dynamics: To implement technical change, the support of stakeholders (Such as NIMASA(The apex body), NSC, NPA, and NIWA) in the industry is needed to provide leadership and articulate technological skills. New technologies are disrupting the shipping industry leaving skill gaps left, right and centre.
The maritime industry has experienced tremendous changes resulting in digital involvement. We do not have sufficient capacity for technical development and this limits performance which negatively affects productivity.
The transition towards digitalization and automation is speeding up in the maritime industry. Digital technologies and solutions are being used to increase competitiveness and enhance operational efficiency.
Our maritime cadets are expected to have basic, and advanced knowledge to successfully meet up the demand of the shipping industry, technically.
Maritime stakeholders need to rethink their current strategies to improve efficiency and sustainability and adapt to improve short- and long-term competitiveness.
- Insecurity and Safety Issues: In recent times, the issue of piracy on our waterways has been a cause of worry. Until piracy is reduced to the minimum, there would be fears for students/cadets aspiring to be officers to pursue or live the dream of becoming future seafarers. This is evident in our hardworking officers struggling to sail through pirate-infested areas with inadequate security to tackle piracy.
The presence of armed security personnel on a ship must also be taken into account and how they could impact the psycho-social well-being of young cadets and seafarers. Piracy can be tackled through significant international capacity building. Everyone is summoned to join the Anti-piracy movement in support of seafarers.
“THE AMENDMENTS TO THE 1974 SOLAS CONVENTION, CHAPTER XI: Chapter XI-2, “Special measures to enhance maritime security”, addresses the mandatory requirements such as the provision of Ship Security Alert System and also refers to the ISPS Code making it mandatory”. The ISPS code should be duly implemented across all levels.
- Issue of Competency: STCW convention is dedicated to raising the profile of seafarers and improving their well-being. The issue of nepotism has eaten deep into the roots of the industry causing more harm than good. Bias members at the top management level, no longer see the need for training and certifications of competency for aspiring maritime cadets thereby endangering the lives of the entire crew management and defacing the legacy of the governing bodies and stakeholders.
Maritime cadets need to be properly trained according to mandatory standards to prove competency at all levels. To perform credibly well, both locally and internationally, they should be equipped with all necessary qualifications and skills. Crew management and recruitment processes should be transparent by responsible and accountable individuals.
- Financial Constraint: Maritime cadets are usually faced with the issue of insufficient funds. Inability to access loans is a prevailing factor that discourages willing maritime cadets. Financial instability and lack of support tend to discourage them from achieving their dreams of becoming competent seafarers.
Public stakeholders in the industry have the responsibility of providing funds to cater for the needs of maritime cadets during the training programme. A well-organized structure should be established to manage their financial needs, so they can be focused on acquiring knowledge without distractions of any kind.
- Mental and Psychological Stress:
The fear of failure and inability to stay focused can lead to the deteriorating health of maritime cadets. In the process of raising funds to acquire certifications and meet up with personal demands, Cadets tend to lose focus while doing this which could cost them their mental health.
The importance of mental well-being cannot be overly emphasized. During the period of training, stakeholders are expected to provide quality health services for cadets to avoid downtime and reduce sick leaves. There should be time for relaxation where cadets can engage in social activities to relieve stress.
- Absence of Teamwork (Esprit De Corps):
Lack of teamwork among cadets can lead to low productivity, unhealthy competition, an unsafe working environment and fewer opportunities for growth and development. Research has shown that a failed team inhibits innovation and creativity, making team members vulnerable to negative influence. In an atmosphere lacking a sense of shared responsibility, there is no support or encouragement.
To truly understand the value of teams and keep a team functioning properly, interpersonal relationship, shared vision, support and motivation is crucial. Maritime cadets while training can learn from one another. This fosters a healthy relationship in the work environment and helps them accomplish mutual goals. Teamwork also reflects positively on the growth and development of the organisation as ideas and creativity are shared.
The Government alone cannot do this and would require the partnership of the private stakeholders to pull resources together and provide the required training for Cadets.
“We must reform our management strategy toward creating a maritime force to be reckoned with in Nigeria and globally”. – Uyere Onome Gift.