Maritime Academy of Nigeria PoP 2021: Effedua charges 219 graduating cadets on excellence always
Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua(Rtd.), Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron Akwa Ibom, has tasked the 2021 graduating cadets to bring their value to work where ever they go for the call of duty.
In this interview, Effedua expresses confidence that the 219 graduating cadets have gained global quality training and would sure be outstanding anywhere in the world, as long as they put in practice what they have been trained to do.
The Rector talks about the beauty of having the cadets go through more training for different categories of professional certifications in their respective disciplines, while still in school, ahead of graduation. While this initiative would give the cadets some advantage, global trade still has some issues it is tackling and these directly concern the seafarers.
Here is Effedua’s talk on these and more.
What the fine lines of this graduating class, considering that the Academy now has more training facilities and trainers?
They are the best and luckiest so far. Not that the others couldn’t have been better, but they didn’t have the facilities that we now have on board. For example, there were no simulators in the past, even when the simulators came last year, two sets were already gone. But these ones have the opportunity of training on the simulators. The last three sets also had the opportunity of doing the mandatory courses free of charge, and the Academy gave to them was worth over N600,000 each free.
The idea of the Federal Government is not to make profit, it is capacity-building. Ordinarily they would have come back, spending nothing less than two years getting these certificates. But, we ensured that instead of going home during their break, we advised them to stay back and take the courses for free. Now they are better equipped and eminently prepared for employment than the previous sets, because each of them can flaunt like five/ six certificates now unlike before when they go with just one.
How has the Academy fared since the beginning of the year- managing the situation with Covid-19?
The Academy is like a citadel; we make sure we tested all the cadets free- of- charge and each time they go home and come back, we test them again. So far, no cadet has had covid-19. Over 80 per cent of the staff members are double-vaccinated, and we ensure that people don’t interact with the cadets, except those who are double-vaccinated. So far, no single case of covid-19 in the Academy.
What are your projections for the coming academic session?
I think we have actually exceeded our projections. Our problem had been irregular funding, but what we have always been given, we have managed well. So, talking about equipment, we have 99 per cent of all equipment that should be in a maritime academy. And in our own case, we have the best. We never had any one before, but now we have acquired the latest training equipment available. All we need to do is to maintain facilities, equipment and consolidate on capacity-building, because that is where we need to push harder. Like now, we depend less on our foreign partners. What the first set of Indians were doing for us, our people can do now, because our people were trained in India. Those Indians only came to stay for one year to help dot the ‘Is’ and cross the ‘Ts’. Now if you go round, our staffs are the ones doing it all; they maintain, they repair and they train.
What about the stakeholders’ call for increase cadet intake, now that the Academy has become well-equipped?
You see, people talk about this always, but they should remember that they are the same ones talking about the cadets lacking opportunities when they come out. If you increase the number, have you solved the problem at hand? You are only creating more problems. The IMO said to the world ‘Keep your trainings to a level you can manage, do not just shun out so many people and they become unemployed at the end of the day.’ So, it is not only the Academy here, it is worldwide.
Now, we are going to give them qualitative training, not quantitative. So, if we have just this number coming out, it is easier. Like these cadets we are training now, nobody will see them and abandon them and go for those who don’t have enough certificates. These ones will always shine any day. I think we will leave the number until situation improves.
Now, the shipowners, how well are they doing? They have a lot of challenges, they need money; most of their vessels need spares, and the issues of the Dollar not being available. So these people need help; apart from their vessels being a little bit idle, there is no ship-owner that would say their ship is 100 per cent busy. It is only about 40 per cent. So, what happens to the other ones? And when you leave a ship redundant, idle- mode they go bad. Even in some cases, some of them have reported about crew stealing their equipment on board like air conditioners, radios sets, walkie-talkies and others, because the ships are not operational.
Again, if the ships are operational, what about the industry? Have they picked up from Covid? If you don’t have things you produce you want to send abroad, it means the ship would go empty from Lagos to Lagos? It is not possible; they must have what to carry, a lot of issues to be tackled. So, when the vessels are operational, the good are there to carry, then, the shipowners would reactivate their ships and they would suddenly need crew. Shipowners cannot be paying crew for vessels not operational, so, they would ask them to go. But, if the ships are operational, there are goods to carry, they would look for seafarers to man the vessels and there would be employment. So, the prosperity of the nation depends on what is going to happen to trade.