By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has again struck a new partnership with the South Shield Marine School at the South Tyneside College, South Shield, Newcastle in the United Kingdom, to provide sea time opportunities for about 400 cadets of the agency’s sponsored Nigerian Seafarers Development Program (NSDP).
The institution which has so far about 502 Nigerian students being trained in various fields in marine Engineering and Nautical Science amongst others, have about 326 students due for sea time, a mandatory requirement to go on board a ship for a period of one year or more on ocean going vessels, before they are qualified for the award of a maritime degree. About 2500 Nigerian youths are beneficiaries of the NIMASA NSDP scheme.
While briefing the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Principal / Head of the school, Gary Hindmarch observed that the school is in partnership with reputable shipping agencies and organizations who are major global players to place cadets on board vessels across the globe, a scheme they have been using to provide sea time opportunities for their students over many decades of the existence of the institution.
The sea time model is similar to that already being provided by the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Alexandria, Egypt, wherein the sea time is imbedded in the programme. Dr. Peterside while welcoming the opportunity noted that “the new arrangement will not only provide the Nigerian youths the chance of completing their training as seafarers but it will equally provide additional window for other NSDP cadets from other institutions, which will greatly reduce the number of the backlog of cadets needing sea time, a challenge currently facing the management of the Agency”.
Briefing the NIMASA management team further, Hindmarch noted “that the sea time will provide the Nigerian youths the required opportunity to complete that aspect of their studies and leading to the completion of their final course works to enable them graduate fully and qualify to be seafarers”.
The school Head stated further that the Nigerian students are brilliant students and that the “performance recorded each year show that the Nigerian students are the highest ethnic group with success at 84 to 95 percent over the past five years and always above the college average, with a high number of female students at 16 percent”’, when compared to other foreign nationals.
“The Nigerians are good students who are very committed to their studies, with great performance, which they have maintained for over five years since they have been at this institution. If there was to be a league table for the academic performance here, the Nigerian students would be top of the table for five years above other nationals studying in the Maritime School”.
Addressing the DG and NIMASA Delegation which also included Mr. Dikko Bala, Nigeria’s Alternate Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and Barrister Victor Egejuru, Coordinator of the NSDP, a representative of the students Nnabugwu Akobundu said, “through these stages of the programme, NIMASA took full responsibility for our tuition and welfare. We are grateful to you and may we also request you to extend our appreciation and well wishes to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari. We join our compatriots to pray for him”.
Also on his part, Adeleye Femi, one of the students who spoke applauded the Government and NIMASA management for their efforts and said, “the programme aims to equip us with the knowledge of the maritime industry, to bridge the gap of the dearth of maritime workers, we are also putting in our best to go in line with the aim of the agency. We hope the Agency will not relent in its efforts to fulfill the desired goal of the program”.
While applauding the students for their good performance, the Director General further urged them to continue to be of good behavior, adding that management is determined to help the students complete their studies in earnest, and that the sea time partnership with the institution will help achieve that.