The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has appealed to women to fight for key positions in the maritime sector, saying that manning the top position is not the exclusive of men.
She said that gone were the days when the maritime industry was looked upon as a man's world.
According to Usman, when women strive to create space for themselves in the industry, they were not doing that only for themselves but for those coming after them just like those who were currently on the stage were doing for young girls who are going to take over from them tomorrow.
The NPA boss spoke during a a sensitisation programme to some secondary school girls on career opportunities in the nation’s maritime industry.
It was the official flag-off of Girls-Go-To-Sea Campaign, a pet project of Face Of Maritime International (FOMI) which took place at Osborne Schools Complex, Ikoyi, Lagos.
In a lecture titled ”What A Man Can Do, A Woman Can Do Even Better”, Usman told the students that there were opportunities for women in the maritime industry, adding that even if there was none, they should create the space themselves.
“So, don’t be discouraged, when you go for a career in the maritime industry, there are more men than woman in the maritime industry but we are increasing in number and we want you to come and join us.
"As we are leaving, for every stage I leave, I want 10 of you to replace me, not one but for every one of us you see here, you are the next generation and being our next generation, we want you to come in larger numbers.
"So, you all need to know that you are our successors. You are what we are going to leave behind. In everything you do, we are building blocks for you to come and take over.
“I want you to sustain your commitment to your education, build your confidence, know that there are opportunities in the maritime industry and everywhere. There is no career that they will say it is exclusively for the men, any career of your choice, pick it up, be dedicated and be committed, that is your success as a woman”, Usman counselled.
Her position was supported by other maritime players.
Speaking on “Career Opportunities in the Maritime Industry”, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, recalled that last year marked another milestone for women in the maritime sector as the industry witnessed the appointment of the first woman as managing director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman.
Peterside who was represented by the Assistant Director, Shipping Development, Mrs. Mary Madu Hamman, reeled out the names of other high profile personalities in the shipping industry to include a one-time Director-General of NIMASA and current Secretary - General of Abuja MOU, Mrs. Mfom Usoro, the current President of Women In Shipping Trade Trade Association (WISTA) who is also a director at NIMASA, Mrs. Mary Hamman, and Mrs. Funke Agbor, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
Others are Barr. Margaret Orakwusi, chairperson of Ship Owners Forum, Ms Funmi Folorunso, Secretary of African Shipowners Association, Mrs. Uju Ifejika, CEO, Britania Ltd., Mrs. Monica Mbanefo of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mrs. Ify Akerele, former DG of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping and Mrs. C.O.F Ezenwa, former DG the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), among others.
“Therefore, it is important at this juncture to encourage you to rise up against all odds that would make you not to become a celebrated woman of success in shipping. It is not only in law, medicine and other fields that success can be achieved, you could be more exceptional by taking this brilliant and great opportunity in the shipping sector. Maritime careers are very profitable and rewarding," Peterside stated.
Speaking further, the NIMASA boss classified career options in the maritime industry into two categories, namely;
Classifying careers in maritime into seafaring and shore based professionals, Peterside described seafaring professionals as those who carry out their jobs on board ships, including deck officers, engineers and stewards, whereas shore based professionals are those who operate from the shore like those in operations and general administration such in shipping companies, ship brokers/insurers, ship builders/naval architects, fleet managers, marine risk management expert, shipping analysts, accountants, lawyers, lecturers and others.
On his part, the representative of Mrs. Mfom Usoro, Secretary-General of Abuja MOU, Mr. Richard Owolabi, Technical Expert to Abuja MOU recalled that the IMO with headquarters in London, United Kingdom which is an agency of the United Nations and is in-charge of regulating international shipping had encouraged them to ensure that every young lady who is taking up a career at sea should be encouraged.
According to him,”It is not only going to sea, you can be a manager to a shipping company and as a Managing Director who is here, she is a Chief Executive of a maritime organization. So, the avenue is very robust for you, not only going to sea as a marine engineer, as a nautical scientist, technician onboard ship but as an administrator in the maritime industry. So, you are very welcome and I want to encourage you as much as possible to take part and take a career at sea”.