Participants at the AMSAY Conference in a group photograph after the event.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The Annual Maritime Students And Youth Conference organised by the Platforms Communications took place at the main auditorium of the Rockview Hotel on Friday. The conference had the theme “Job Creation For The Nigerian Youths Through The Maritime Sector”.
The event which had in attendance eggheads, technocrats and business moguls was chaired by the executive director, Nigerian Institute For Oceanography And Marine Research, Professor (Capt.) Abiodun Sule and also had certain eminent personalities in attendance which included Capt. Sunday M. Umoren of the Abuja MOU, Professor Callistus Ibe of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri who was also the father of the day, Dr. (Mrs) Chinwe Mogo of the African Marine Environment Sustainability Initiative also the mother of the day, Barrister Temisan Omatseye the erstwhile director general of NIMASA, Professor Samuel Iyiola Oni of the University of Lagos and Capt. William Ogunshakin, a merchant navy personnel among other dignitaries who were personally present and some represented.
The convener of the conference, Sylvanus Obasi making his presentation.
In his opening speech, the host of the event, Sylvanus Obasi said that the conference has been deliberately fixed for the 27th day of May of every year in order to always bring to the general consciousness of the people the need for good succession plans by guiding the young ones who are the future. He buttressed his point by calling on all the dignitaries present and others to help create the needed opportunities for the graduating students to thrive in their chosen careers in the maritime sector as some hitherto graduated young people are now into oil bunkering, armed robbery, internet fraud and other forms of nefarious activities due to the lack of opportunities.
The runner up, Olalekan Ogunleke and winner Onome Uero pose for photograph at the event.
The Chairman of the day was represented by Dr. Kuki who in his opening remarks encouraged the convener to keep on with the good works of sustaining the conference. Dr. Kuki spoke about the different components that make up the blue economy with their inherent benefits and opportunities and which need the manpower that would be provided by the trained youths as he asked those who are investing in the maritime sector to try and nurture these youths who are needed to take over from them sometimes in the future. He also spoke about the challenges of the IUUA or the Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Activities in the maritime sector which goes beyond the illegal fishing and straddles other areas within the sector.
In his goodwill message, Professor Callistus Ibe advised the students to always try and develope themselves whether there are jobs or no job as he says that skills are indispensable and are rather needed to create wealth. He advised that they tap into the experience that their mentors are providing to make their lives more fulfiling and to become better professionals in the field. Dr. (Mrs.) Chinwe Mogo in her motherly advise engaged the students present to first and foremost discover themselves, be focused, pay attention to details, resist peer pressure and negative influence, be hard working, disciplined and patiently use all the available networks in order to succeed.
The keynote speech was presented by Capt. Sunday Umoren who advised the students not to think that there are jobs out there waiting for them, but urged them to take advantage of any opportunity that may come their way. He enumerated some of the areas that the maritime sector provides opportunities like stevedoring, aquaculture, marine research structures, maritime transportation, commercial fishing, recreational businesses, naval engineering, sports, maritime training and other activities as he buttressed that the maritime sector is a huge sector that could create limitless opportunities for career and business development. He asked a rhetorical question of which comes first, skill or job, he pointedly gave reasons for intentional skills development, but largely left it for all present to ponder. He advised all the youths to vigorously ask questions before jumping into any school as some are unaccredited so that they can truly reap the benefits of their training.
Some participants at the event.
The lead paper was presented by Barrister Temisan Omatseye and it was titled “The Youths and Prospects of Job Creation Through the Maritime Sector: Maximising Cabotage, Local Content and Everything In-between”. Mr. Omatseye said that seafaring is a very honourable profession, but asked about the prospect of job creation in the sector. He defined Cabotage as the movement of goods and services within and around the country, but which includes through the air, road, rail and ships. He says that there is already a vacancy as the International Chamber of Shipping warns that there may be shortage of sailors to serve commercial shipping over the next five years. He added that the demand for maritime crews is about One Million Five Hundred Thousand and that of this figure Seven Hundred and Ninety Thousand are officers. According to Mr. Omatseye, a shortage of Sixteen Thousand officers are presently needed with One Hundred and Nineteen Thousand ratings also immediately needed.
A bevy of beautiful ladies at the event.
Engineer Jatto of the Association of Marine Engineers and representing his president in his goodwill message said that the youth is the bedrock of any nation and so more emphasis should be put on job creation. He though noted that the times are different as he hoped that the youths of today will be able to overcome the challenges over time.
The second paper was presented by Professor Samuel Iyiola Oni and it was titled “Seafaring: The Challenges Facing Cadets in the 21st Century”. He says that for our jobs not to go completely out of our hands, we have to imbibe the new ways of doing things in order to keep up. He noted that seafaring has also evolved like every other business in the world while indicating that Asia provides the bulk of seafarers in the world. Professor Oni said that Nigeria is in short supply of seafarers as expatriates have almost completely taken up all the jobs of seafaring in the country.
Generally, participants deplored the current state of our maritime affairs and indicated the need for all hands to be on deck in rescuing the country from the seeming abyss in terms of maritime infrastructure. Captain William Ogunshakin said that in the company that he works for, he is the only Nigerian among the ten ship Captains under their employment, worse still he is still under casual consideration even with his over thirty years experience in the job as our laws do not protect his job.
All in all and speaker after speaker, it was agreed that the maritime sector has a limitless amount of resources that could take the country to its economic eldorado, what with the resources under our seabed, the fact that 90% of world trade is done through the oceans and the so many commercial and professional opportunities that the sector has and which have not been tapped into. They also called on the relevant agencies of government and well positioned individuals to do the needful in order that we can translate these resources into opportunities for the teeming population.
The number of schools from around the country which sent in their students to the conference is fifteen and various awards, gifts and cash prizes were given to some participating studennts with Onome Uero emerging the best in essay competition and winning the sum of One Hundred Thousand Naira with Olalekan Ogunleke coming second and also gifted a cash prize of Thirty Thousand Naira. There were also other awards for the best students in certain maritime faculties.
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