By Izuchukwu Ozoemena
The Alumni Association of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, (AMANO), says the Federal Government must, without further delay, demonstrate to Nigerians the political will to confront and overcome the numerous challenges bedeviling the country’s maritime industry. These challenges, AMANO observed, include dwindling Nigeria-owned tonnage, shortage of skilled manpower, piracy and kidnapping. Others include improper implementation of the Cabotage Act, underutilization of port facilities and the present chaos at Apapa Port Complex whereby getting in and out of the port is now a nightmare which the government is showing surprising inability to find a solution to.
At its 2nd National Convention held at the Admiralty Conference Centre, Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos, Friday, with the theme Achieving the Maritime Industry of Our Dream, the association called on the Federal Government to quickly come up with workable solutions to the numerous problems if anything, to justify her existence inline with the philosophy of social contract.
As stated by AMANO President, Engr Austin Ume Zurike, “while not trying to tackle all the challenges at a go, government should focus on two aspects which are critical, namely, human capital development and government policies in shipping development.” Ume Zurike who is also the CEO of Arion Energy Services Ltd described AMANO as a uniting platform for all cadets of the Academy with the aim to uplift the welfare of its members, push for quality and improved learning environment at the Academy and seek for adequate and inclusive representation of its members in the affairs of the maritime industry in general.
“Our convention provides us the opportunity as alumni members to converge and reminisce our days at the alma mater, catch up with old mates and network.”
In his presentation, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside who was represented by Engr Ekong Umotong, observed that NIMASA and MAN, Oron, have what he described as a symbiotic relationship that is eternal and cannot be broken. “We are proud to have on our teeming staff strength AMANO members and to also announce to all that on a quarterly basis, there must be an event or activity that brings NIMASA and MAN, Oron, together. These are beside the constant prayer of the MAN team for NIMASA revenue to grow, knowing that 5% will statutorily be remitted back to Oron.” He stated that NIMASA is proud to be associated with AMANO and to name her as one of her topmost stakeholders. “We remain open to any invaluable contributions and business enhancement suggestions from your highly reputable association, knowing that this will also be beneficial to the maritime world and the current drive and focus on the blue economy. We are very much aware and proud of the many glass ceilings your members have broken and their strategic repositioning of Nigeria’s maritime industry. ”
On the theme of the year’s conference which is Achieving the Maritime Industry of Our Dream, Peterside noted that maritime education is the key to repositioning the country’s economy.
“In fact, these were the driving force of the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) with the aim of creating indelible footprints of Nigerian seafarers in the world. NIMASA will be happy to be copied in the resolutions that will be released after this seminar as we are convinced that it could be fed into our feedback loop and integrated with our strategy.” He assured that with his recent visit to the Academy and the ongoing interactions with the management towards ensuring that all gangrene that kept the institution crippled and stuck on a wheel chair will be removed, thus giving the Academy wings to fly. “The support includes ensuring timely remittance of statutory allocations, acquisition of equipments, simulators, teaching aids and the sourcing of qualified professionals as lecturers, among others. The agency is also using every national and international forum to draw support of the maritime world to MAN, Oron with a view to reposition her.”