Stakeholders seek better ways of getting sea-time for Nigerian cadets

Nigeria Maritime Students

Participants at the fourth edition of  “A Day With Nigeria Maritime Students”  on occasion of the 2019 Children’ Day celebration in Lagos advocated for improved ways for enabling Nigerian cadets get sea-time training to qualify them as seafarers according to global training standard.
Speaking on the occasion, Captain Ade Olopoeniyan, a former president of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) called on the relevant government agencies, ship owners, and the maritime colleges to begin to work out better ways of getting sea-time for cadets so that they can have proper practical training on board ships not just a ship staying at anchorage for twelve months then come back.

He, however, shared a sad truth with the students that many of them may not be able to get the required practical training of sea time if they found themselves on anchored vessels, rather than those that would be trading.   
He said, “I know that a lot of cadets here, when you finish, you will not be able to get that mandatory 12 months on a ship or if the ship is not trading, you are not getting enough practical training. If the ship will just be at anchorage for about six months or nine months, you won’t get any training, you are just on a ship, you are not getting enough experience.”
Also encouraging the students, Olopoeniyan said that sea career is both very challenging and very rewarding, considering the diverse experiences at sea, but advised on the need for dedication and commitment on the part of the cadets.
 “In my own case, I know that when we started, we were eight of us that started the career sea time but only five of us were able to make it. So, you have to be really dedicated, determined that you want to succeed. It is rewarding in the sense that by the time you are able to finish your first examinations and you get your certificate of competency, in this period where there is a lot of problems with employment, you go to University and you get a Degree, you can’t get a job, if you get a certificate of competency as a seafarer either as a deck officer or an engineer, you are going to get job, that is for sure.
“And as Dr. Onyung has said, there are so many opportunities at sea, a lot of vessels are operating in Nigerian waters and are being manned by foreigners. If you can get more Nigerians qualify as competent seafarers, then, there won’t be any need for a lot of foreigners on our ships even on the coastal side. So, it is a rewarding experience.
“Again, if you have a certificate, you don’t only be on coastal vessels, you can be on foreign going vessels where you get to know the world, different countries, different cultures, different experiences. And of course, that is why I actually got a lot of education. By travelling round the world, you are going to get a lot education from that. So, it is a rewarding experience.
“Then, beyond sea time, maybe after you have got your classified by universal certificate or classified by Nigeria certificate, you can now decide to come to your second career at shore which was what I did. After I became a captain on a ship, I came down to work ashore, which was my second career and I worked in the Ministry of Transport, I worked in NIMASA and I have retired now.
“ I am actually into my third career now by just doing consultancy services. So, I have had three careers as a seafarer which if you are serious, you can emulate what I have done by actually having first, second and third career as seafarers,” he stated.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the conference and President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. MkGeorge Onyung advised the students to take their studies very serious and forget about the challenges that they may encounter in the course of their studies.
Onyung said: “You have capacities as adults to do exploit, so, I say to you, people don’t go to Olympics to try, you go there to get a gold medal, so, don’t say, I went to school, I have tried, I want you to go and get a gold medal.”
 He pledged commitment to ensuring that the cadets get mentoring and well prepared for the task ahead of them as seafarers.
In his welcome address, the conference convener and CEO of Platforms Communications, Mr. Sylvanus Obasi, said that the 2019 edition of the conference was to address two important issues captured in the two papers presentations for the day’s occasion, one of which was targeted at examining the place of the Nigerian youth in the enormous potentials in the Nigerian maritime industry.
The second paper, Obasi said would x-ray  the challenges that could deter a Nigerian seafarer from continuing his seafaring profession and also proffer solutions on how relevant government agencies, regulators and concerned stakeholders could work together to solve the challenges so that the seafarers could easily progress to the next level of their career.