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NIMASA canvasses sustained capacity building in maritime sector



THE Nigerian Maritime University (NMU) will produce high-level manpower for the maritime/shipping sector on a sustainable basis, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi has said.

According to Akpobolokemi, the University located in Okerenkoko, Warri South West Local Government area, Delta State will provide training for seafarers, master mariners, marine engineers, naval architects, nautical scientists and other specialised maritime/shipping trade skills.

Speaking at an interactive session with Journalists in Lagos, Akpobolokemi said the University is envisaged to become a centre for excellence in innovative research for the maritime sector in the West and Central Africa sub-region.

He also used the opportunity to deny reports of alleged non-payment of students’ school fees under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP).

The NIMASA boss alleged that the reports might have been sponsored, adding that fees have been paid to date.

He said: “Over 2,500 young Nigerians have benefitted or are currently enjoying various levels of scholarship in reputable institutions in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania, India and Philippines.

“The students are studying to become marine engineers, naval architects and nautical scientists. This has gone on successfully. We were taken aback by the recent media publications on nonpayment of the students’ fees, which we believe may have been sponsored.

“For the avoidance of doubts, no student of the NSDP programme has been sent out of school for fees and none will be sent out because all fees have been paid by NIMASA till date”, Akpobolokemi added.

He said the agency has no doubt that in the next five years, Nigeria would have produced a sizeable number of qualified seafarers, “satisfying local demands and also earning scarce foreign exchange from working on board foreign ships”.

He said the improved International Ships and Port Facility Security (ISPS ) code compliance level in Nigerian ports and terminals has pitched those benefiting from the status quo against the agency.

The NIMASA boss said since the President Goodluck Jonathan administration appointed NIMASA as the Designated Authority (DA) for ISPS implementation in the country, compliance level rose from seven per cent to over 83 per cent within two years.

He said ISPS code compliance has ensured a better environment for port operations, adding that it has eliminated the era of port rats, hawking, and touting within the vicinity of the nation’s ports.

Explaining further, Akpobolokemi said: “The NIMASA Satellite Surveillance Centre has also assisted in our quest to combat all illicit activities in the Nigerian maritime domain and beyond.

“The Agency is now able to respond to any distress call on Nigerian waters and even beyond. The new 24-hour Satellite Surveillance equipment has the capability to detect boats, ships and objects of predefined cross-section floating on water and has helped to reduce incidence of piracy and oil theft to the barest minimum.

“This achievement of ours has pitched the sponsors of oil theft and piracy attacks against the Agency and hence the numerous mudslinging on NIMASA and its leadership most of which are sponsored by unscrupulous elements.

“Our vision is to transform the maritime sector into an industry that will generate capable local manpower, which will contribute significantly to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

“Let us make bold to state here that the agency will not be distracted by the activities of persons and institutions seeking to bring important matters of state to a pedestrian level by cheap and baseless propaganda.

“We remain committed to the ideals setting up NIMASA and resolute in efforts at evolving a responsible and responsive Safety Administration in the belief that the future of our country can only be guaranteed by a focused leadership”.

According to Akpobolokemi, the agency entered into partnership with Global West Vessels Specialist Limited (GWSVSL) to provide its platforms to patrol the coastline, adding that with the involvement of the company,  the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement now boasts of various categories of boats.

He said: “The PPP project has also made it possible for the agency to provide suitable platforms to the relevant security agencies collaborating with us to fight piracy and other sundry security breaches in our waters.

“Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have been signed and are being implemented between the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Air Force and the NIMASA.

“Contrary to widespread speculation, Global West did not buy warships for NIMASA, what we have are our routine operational vessels with which   the Nigerian Navy and the agency collectively have successfully carried out the agency’s mandate as well as tracked, interdicted and arrested vessels engaged in criminal activities in our waters.

“Mindful of its responsibility to the Nigerian people, the Federal Government has provided the enabling environment for the agency to enhance our maritime domain awareness. The MoU with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force has enhanced Water patrol and aerial surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime domain”.

 President Goodluck Jonathan had in 2014 commissioned the University and NIMASA Dockyard.

The Minister of Transport, Idris Umar and Akpobolokemi conducted Jonathan round the facilities at the temporary site of the University.

Jonathan also commended NIMASA and the Ministry of Transport for the pace of work at the temporary site.

He described maritime business as a global and lucrative one, adding that the present administration is doing everything possible to empower the youths and enrich the country.

Akpobolokemi explained that the establishment of the university was in furtherance of NIMASA’s passion for building local capacity in the maritime sector and ultimately for the export of manpower.

According to Akpobolokemi, NIMASA has also sponsored the establishment of maritime institutes in four Nigerian universities namely University of Lagos, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Niger Delta University, Amasoma, Bayelsa State, and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State to boost maritime education and business in Nigeria.

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