Effedua’s speech during Class of 2020 Passing out Parade at Maritime Academy of Nigeria
Speech by the Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua(Rtd.), during the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony held on Dec. 21, 2020, in the Academy’s auditorium.
Let’s all try and keep safe. There is Covid. Don’t say Covid does not exist because it has not happened to you. This academy has 100 per cent record thus far, because we understood the fear and we made it mandatory that everybody put on a mask. If you don’t wear, you will be evicted from the premises. You won’t even be allowed to enter.
During the Covid-19 lockdown globally, we saw the importance of sea power. Sea power does not only mean military power, but you talk of these national assets, dockyards, manpower. Without the seafarers, how would we have had the face masks?
Apart from Ethiopian Airline that braved it, most airlines backed out. But things were still being moved around the world. So, cadets, you can see the world you are entering into.
So, even at the height of the Covid pandemic, the medical personnel and the seafarers made sure the world was cared for through medical supplies.
Cadets, nothing comes easy. You must see challenges as you go and you must identify them and respect them. Don’t just chicken out, because you think the problem is bigger than you. Impossible should not be in your dictionary for now. Keep trying, and you will get it.
On my appointment as the Rector, I saw that the work environment was most unfriendly as staff members did not interact among themselves. The rot here was much. The training equipment were very archaic. But the Interim Management Committee, to which I was a member, continued to analyse the problems on ground then, and considered the best solutions to them.
The biggest challenge was how to get money to do everything that was identified and needed to be fixed. So, all I had to do was block all leakages. Everything you see out here now was about the leakages blocked, not that we got extra funding.
Relationship with the host community has been cordial, after identifying those who foment trouble. But on our CSR now, I buy JAMB (Joint Admission Matriculation Board) forms for students of the community.
My November salary was donated to the orphans here, the hospital. I did that out of love. And, if the people here are bad, I wouldn’t have done that. I supply the General Hospital diesel every week. And I am happy because the elderly can go to the hospital and get treated, unlike when they were requested to bring diesel before surgeries could be done.
For the schools, I have organised seminars for them; seminars on cultism, girl-child education, early marriage and on child trafficking. We have also given the schools the best ICT laboratories.
Recently, we gave the motorcycle riders 600 helmets and reflector jackets.
Now, for all these, I must say that the real heroes are my staff. And I am happy to address the issue of an unfriendly work environment, which happened among the staff themselves.
Now, all the cadets, except those in the School of Maritime Transport, are members of the Nautical Institute of the UK. We actually paid for them, and all my cadets have Laptops given to them free of charge, courtesy of the academy.
We have some foreign professionals- nine master mariners. We also have 58 young Nigerian professionals. We trained 15 of our staff on the latest simulators we should acquired. We have the Full Mission Engine Room, the Full Mission Bridge simulators and the latest of them all, the Multifunctional Classroom.
On hostel accommodation- our cadets used to stay 18 people in a room and that was not correct. The minister frowned on that condition and now they have two-man rooms, which are all ensuite.
All our classrooms have smart boards. And we started online lectures as soon as the Covid lockdown was declared. The cadets have books given to them free of charge as well.
I thank all the stakeholders for all the support since 2017.
I want to explain something, it is not the Rector that said cadets’ intake should be 300, it is the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that said so.
The problem we have in Nigeria that NIMASA is battling with, started from here where like 2000 cadets are taken and they cannot be catered for and they are passed out anyhow. When they get out they cannot fit into the labour market. Shipowners are bleeding to keep their ships afloat.
So, the truth is to train the number of people that can be well catered for, and the demand should be more than the supply.
Those days, the cadets pay for mandatory short courses when they come back, but that has changed, because they do the courses right while they are still here. So, our cadets have like six certificates for courses they would have paid for, but now it is free for them.
Five principles that can make or mare somebody’s progress
Learning how to be great- you don’t have to succeed every time you try something, but when you fail, learn how to move on to continue.
Reflect on your purpose- no matter what happens to you, your motivation should remain your purpose.
There is a killer, however, it is pride, ego. But, humility opens all doors. Be ready to learn.
Patience- You must exercise patience. Nothing comes easy.
Persistence- this covers everything. Do you believe that man is the architect of his own destiny?
I will donate my salary for December to some people here- the gardeners, and some others, to tell them thank you for their jobs.
A cadet here has shown that he is indeed a hero. I will give N500,000 to him for donating his kidney to his ailing mother. I will also mentor him and do other things to support him.