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NIMASA sends 400 new batch of cadets to India, Greece for training under NSDP 

—vows to deport, sanction erring students
The Eyewitness reporter
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA (NIMASA) has deepened its human capacity development programme when it dispatched to Greece and India a fresh set of 400 students to study under its National Seafarers Development Programme ( NSDP).
The Director General of NIMASA Dr Bashir Jamoh, while giving the update on the capacity building programme which commenced in 2008, stated that the programme was meant to empower the capacity of Nigerian youths to become seafarers and Naval Architects.
“The programme was designed to train Nigerian youths up to Degree level in Marine Engineering, Nautical Sciences and Naval Architecture in some of the best Maritime Training Institutions (MTIs) abroad and to position them to compete effectively in the global maritime industry” he declared.
The flag-off ceremony of the third phase of the programme took place Saturday at the Naval Dockyard Victoria Island Lagos which had in attendance the Minister of Transportation Engr Muazu Sambo, the Permanent secretary Dr Magdalene Ajani, Ship owners and other stakeholders in the industry.
Jamoh, who expressed delight at the expansion of the programme, declared that from inception to 2020, the programme has enrolled 2,041 students, while 892 are now licensed deck and engine officers including naval Architects while the rest are in their final stage of the programme.
“It may please the Minister to know that about 486 of the graduates are now gainfully employed and sailing in both coastal and ocean-going vessels” Jamoh enthused.
He said that the agency, with the Ministry of Transportation, has reviewed the programme to eliminate the challenges and encumbrances which the past students encountered.
According to him, the areas of review include consideration of a recruitment plan that selects the best candidates for the NSDP, spreading beneficiaries across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria,  introducing a code of conduct for all beneficiaries enrolled on the programme to safeguard the image of the country, selection of Maritime Training Institutions (MTIs) that offers the three training elements of the programme (shore-based training, shipboard training and the certificate of competency), this is to eliminate the long delay in securing sea time training berths that were experienced with the previous set of students.
In addition, NIMASA comparatively got the most reasonable cost for the training and in countries of mutual recognition of CoC with Nigeria.
NIMASA DG, while admonishing the new students to be good ambassadors of the country, said the agency has introduced a code of conduct for students to ensure that they are well-behaved in their institutions of study.
He warned that any student who falls foul of the code of conduct shall be deported, sanctioned and made to refund the tax players’ money invested in such unruly students.
Jamoh further declared that there are better prospects ahead of the students in their chosen careers, asking them not to truncate such opportunities.
“The past decade has witnessed an increase in the global trading fleet, partly on account of developments in Asia and other emerging opportunities.
” In Nigeria, the demand for seafarers has also increased on account of the Cabotage regime which requires that vessels engaged in commercial trade and operations in the coastal and inland waters in Nigeria should be manned by Nigerians.
” The expanding opportunities provided by the Liquefied Natural Gas projects have also been a major boost for manpower demand of the sector. With prospects for the commencement of operations of the Brass LNG, the expansion of the NLNG trains and the Olokola Gas project, manpower demand for that sector has doubled the existing number.
“Another prospect is the growing off-shore oil exploration and production activities, which have increased the vessel requirements to meet demand in the sector.
” Other areas with significant prospects include the fishing sector, the manning of inland waterway crafts and coastal tankers.
“Overall, the prospects for the future of the Nigerian shipping industry remain very bright in spite of the manpower constraints.
“It is our hope that the NSDP scheme will in the long run increase the pool of Nigerian seafarers for export to other Countries.
“To our youthful cadets, as you set sail, we make but only one demand of you – that you never lose sight of the mission of this voyage; avoid the foreign distractions that can cause a shipwreck to your budding careers and dedicate yourselves to the completion of your education so that your country’s huge investment will not be in vain.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime.” he counselled.
The Minister of Transportation Engr Muazu Sambo pledged the support of the ministry to enhance the success of the programme
“The ministry of Transportation will continue to encourage and partner with NIMASA on NSDP and other policies on the development of a sustainable maritime-based economy (Blue Economy).
“Hence, the Ministry explicitly gave its nod to the expansion of the Programme by another set of 435 new students to be recruited into the NSDP.
” The flag off of the 3rd phase of NSDP ‘’Christened NSDP-TERRA’’ marks another milestone in the development of manpower in line with the Federal Government policy on youth empowerment.
“We urge the beneficiaries to be good ambassadors of the Nation and justify the massive investment in you.
” This programme is a rare opportunity that is highly sought after by your peers, but providence has placed it on you and must be guarded jealously for the development and benefit of the Nation.
” We will continually monitor your progress in the programme and will not hesitate to discipline the recalcitrant ones among you.
“I urge you all to eschew drugs and any conduct that will portray the nation in bad light” Sambo admonished the students.
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House of Reps gives NIMASA green light to disburse CVFF –appoints audit firm to coordinate, monitor  disbursement

Hon. Legor Idagbo
The eyewitness reporter
The House of Representatives has given the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) a clean bill of health over the controversial Cabotage Vessels Financing Funds(CVFF) and consequently directed the agency to disburse the funds.
It would be recalled that the lawmakers, a few weeks ago, halted the planned disbursement after long and painstaking groundwork made by the Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA towards the disbursement process.
The House had raised concerns over the funds, said to be about #700m, and decided to ask its committee on Nigerian Contents Development and Monitoring to investigate the funds.
This followed a motion during its sitting last month on the matter and subsequently directed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to stop the planned disbursement of the fund.
However, after concluding its investigation, the House found tenable the need to disburse the funds to the eligible indigenous ship owners.
Addressing journalists in Abuja Thursday, the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Legor Idagbo said that its investigations indicated that due process was followed, informing that the disbursement can now be made.
“The House of Representatives at its sitting on Tuesday, 4 May 2023, deliberated on a motion on the Planned Disbursement of $700 Million Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, and investigate the Total Accrual of the Fund, and referred same to the House Committee on Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring to, amongst other resolutions, investigate and urge the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to immediately stop the planned disbursement of $700 million to Nigerian citizens and companies and to lay before the floor of the House, an audited statement of account showing all monies that have accrued to the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund not later than fourteen (14) days from the date of this resolution.
“The Committee requested the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Ministry of Transportation to provide detailed information on the total amount accrued to the Fund and disbursements since inception.
“The Committee met with the Minister of Transportation and the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ({NIMASA) on Thursday, 11 May 2023 to find out about the details concerning the matter.
” After a thorough analysis of the various submissions on the matter coupled with the explanations given by the Ministry and NIMASA, the Committee discovered that due process was followed in the planned disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund.
“The Committee notes that the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) is a fund that was set up in 2003 by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act.
” The Fund was established for the purpose of developing indigenous ship acquisition capacity, and to provide financial assistance to indigenous shipping operators.
“The Committee further notes that there is a lack of Capacity amongst indigenous/ Domestic Coastal operators in Nigeria, thus the reason Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC) still awards contracts to foreign shipping Companies in contravention of the Cabotage and Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act.
“Some of these awards have been previously investigated by the Committee which led to their cancellation.
“It was also discovered that the total funds of $360m in the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) represents 50%, while the remaining counterpart funds of 50% is from stakeholders and Banks which is 15% and 35% respectively.
“NIMASA should go ahead with the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) in compliance with the extant laws and laid down guidelines for the said disbursement.
“To ensure the disbursement does not violate any of the extant laws made by the National Assembly, the following persons were nominated to supervise the disbursement process:
“Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Legor Idagbo  – Chairman ii. Hon. Henry Nwawuba – Member iii. | Mrs. Kehinde Bolade Olaiya – Committee Clerk.
“An Audit firm, Stratford Hill and Co. was appointed by the committee as the coordinating enforcement auditor for the CVFF.
“The Committee applauds NNPC for its commitment to awarding the shipping contracts to indigenous companies that have built capacity to the level where they can successfully execute these contracts.
“The Committee is grateful to the leadership of the House for the confidence bestowed on it to carry out the investigation”.
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President Tinubu appoints Gbajabiamila Chief of Staff

Gbajabiamila , Tinubu
 President Bola Tinubu has appointed Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as his Chief of Staff.

An authoritative source in the Presidency confirmed the development on Thursday.

The source said the president finally made the decision after wide consultations on the contending candidates.

Gbajabiamila has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2012 and has just been re-elected to the House in the last elections.

The choice of Gbajabiamila by the president is not a surprise to many political pundits as he has been a very close ally to the president.

They are part of the brains behind the formation of the All-Progressives Party (APC).

He will now have to forgo his seat in the House of Representatives if he accepts the appointment.

Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila CFR, is a Nigerian lawyer and foundation member of the APC.

He has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2019.

Gbajabiamila was born in Lagos in 1962 and attended Igbobi College for his secondary education and the University of Lagos as part of his education.

He is married to Salamatu Gbajabiamila.

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Maritime media, NUJ mourn as Ray Ugochukwu passes on to glory

Ray Ugochukwu
The eyewitness reporter
The media confraternity of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council and the maritime media, was thrown into a deep shock and mourning Thursday at the sudden demise of Mr Ray Ugochukwu, a crack journalist of international repute.
The entire members of the NUJ and the maritime media, his immediate constituency, received the news of his death, which was broken by Mr Leye Ajayi, the Chairman of the NUJ Lagos council, in a terse message posted on the council’s WhatsApp platform, with mixed emotion of sadness, shock and disbelief.
Shell-shocked, most colleagues of the deceased, who thought the announcement was a joke taken too far, make frantic calls to the NUJ council officials who confirmed the unfortunate incident.
As the rude reality of the death of the erudite maritime journalist sank in, many of them paid glowing tributes to the man widely regarded as the encyclopedia of the maritime press and a repository of wise sayings.
In its statement on the death of Mr Ugochukwu, Leye Ajayi eulogised the huge reportorial qualities of the deceased who has practised journalism for over 30 years
“With heavy hearts, we mourn the death of a media giant, a versatile Unionist and a brilliant journalist, Mr Ray Ugochukwu who passed on on Thursday.

“The death of Ray came as a big shock to the union.

“We are going to miss his courageous attributes and mentorship.

“He was also one of the pillars of the Lagos Council of NUJ and served the union meritoriously in his capacities as the Chairman of, the Seminar Committee; and as a Member, the Committee on Milestone Recognition of Media Icons In Nigeria.

“He spent most of his life in ensuring the advancement of Maritime Reporting as well as the welfare of Journalists.

“He worked in several media houses.

“Among his giant strides, he was a former President of the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN); President, Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN); and a former Chairman of the Daily Times Chapel of NUJ.

“The legacies of Ray are indelible and will exist forever.

“May God grant his soul eternal rest” the Lagos NUJ said in a statement signed by Leye Ajayi, the Council Chairman and Tunde Olalere, the Council Secretary.

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