Seafarers Day: Why Seafarers Are The Live wire Of The Maritime Industry

By Stephen Ubanna

Barely one year in office as the minister of marine and blue economy,  Adegboyega Oyetola, who  incidentally was a former governor of Osun s appears to have left  no one in doubt that  he  has mastered the language of the maritime sector  to communicate  with the industry players, both within and outside the country.

The minister who was said to have joined the maritime industry operators to speak their language at  the 2024, International Maritime Organization, IMO, a United Nation’s UN, maritime agency, seafarers day celebration, appears to have  shown his expertise in his prepared speech.

 The minister who could not hide his feelings may have gladdened the heart of the seafarers when he declared that they are ‘’the livewire of the maritime industry and essential to the success of the nation’s blue economy’’.

Oyetola: Minister Of Marine & Blue Economy

The former Osun state governor, has every reason to believe that they  are the livewire of the maritime sector because ‘’seafarers endure  the isolation of the open sea , the unpredictability of the weather  and the myriads of challenges  that come with  navigating  some of the world’s busiest  and most perilous waters like the Gulf of Guinea’’.

 He noted that the seafarers resilience , dedication  and unwavering  commitment  to  ensure that  goods  and resources  reach  every corner  of the entire planet , supporting livelihoods and promoting  national trade bear eloquent testimony to their strategic importance to the global economy.

 Babatude Bombata, Director , Maritime Safety and Security in the ministry, who was said to have represented the minister at the  2024, seafarers day celebrations ,  which gave him the ample opportunity  to deliver the ministerial speech may have gladdened the heart of the seafarers when he declared that the Federal Government  ‘’remains committed  to collaborating  with industry stakeholders’’.

 The Osun state born politician had opined that the Nigerian Government will remain ‘’steadfast in advocating for the rights and welfare of the nation’s seafarers’’. He was emphatic that the government will remain  committed to providinga  comprehensive  training  programmes, enforcing stringent  safety  regulations and offering  continuous support  to ensure that  that the Nigerian  seafarers will be among the best trained  and most resilient in the world economy’’.

An elated Oyetola may have spoken the mind of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, when he disclosed that  the government is dedicated  ‘’to building  on the foundation of making the country’s trained seafarers the best in the world   by ensuring  that they are  well- equipped ‘’to  meet  the challenges  and opportunities  of the modern  maritime landscape.

Bombata, a Director in the ministry of marine and blue economy who has the mandate of the minister to speak for him,  was said to have pledged  the ministry’s  resolve  ‘’to prioritize  the growth  and development  of the marine and blue economy  sector , believed that will greatly  benefit all Nigerians  and the future generations’’.

The Director, was said to have also used the opportunity provided by the  2024, seafarers’ Day ,  celebrations,  ‘’to solicit for  stakeholders’ support  in the development of the all-important sector, noting that ‘’the ministry  cannot  undertake  the task  alone’’.

As a prelude to meeting the challenges faced by the seafarers, he had said that the ministry is closely working together   with other stakeholders in the private sector,  international Organizations like the IMO,  and other  government agencies  ‘’to create an enabling environment  for the growth  of the marine and blue economy’’.

 Senator Wasiu Eshinlokun, Chairman, Senate Committee  on Maritime  Safety, Education and Administration , along with his Counterpart in the House of Representatives , were said to have applauded  the seafarers  for their resilience  and  reassured them  of the Federal  Government’s continuous support ‘’to guarantee their well-being’’.

The duo were said to have assured the seafarers  of the readiness of the National Assembly  to work closely with the Nigerian Maritime Administration  and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the close watch of Dayo Mobereola,  and other industry stakeholders  ‘’to support any legislation  aimed at  advancing  the rights and safety  of all seafarers. It was not surprising why the Lawmakers had volunteered information that together they will continue  to strive  for the  growth of the global maritime sector  that is equitable  and inclusive for all’’.  Of the seafarers’

Mobereola: DG, NIMASA

Mobereola, NIMASA, Director General, on his part had acknowledged the uniqueness of the seafarer’s profession and the challenges faced by them. The NIMASA Director General   who is very economical with the use of words had said   with the theme for this year’s seafarers celebrations, ‘’Navigating the Future: Safety First, which is a call to address the    challenging conditions faced by the seafarers while navigating the waters. This may have informed why he had emphasized the need for greater focus on their well-being and safety at sea’’.

He had said that the agency duly  recognize  the humongous  challenges  the seafarers  navigating the seas  had faced while sailing , ranging from  the activities of pirates, sea robbers, kidnappers , health risks  to unfair treatment of employers.

The NIMASA, Chief Executive Officers, CEO,, may have shocked Nigerians, when he noted that notwithstanding   these challenges faced by the seafarers navigating the seas, Nigeria in the last two years of ocean going vessels laden with cargoes sailing in Nigerian waters has’’ recorded zero piracy incidents but noted that the agency will not rest on it oars   as the life of every seafarer matters’’.

He had made it clear to those that cares to listen that the maritime regulatory agency will continue to collaborate with local and international Organizations to address global issues affecting the seafarers and ensure their safety while navigating in the future.

The NIMASA, helmsman who is in a better position to speak on the Nigerian Seafarers?, because of his advantage, had said that Nigeria has a young population to compete with other maritime nations like Philippines, South Korea and Singapore, particular, whose seafarers contribute   to their Gross Domestic Product, GDP.

 He had stated clearly  that that NIMASA, under his Leadership  will continue  to invest  in training  and capacity –building  programmes  to enhance  seafarers  skills , welfare  and employment opportunities. He has given insight of the agency plans to domesticate all International Labour Organization ILO, Conventions that that had been ratified by the Nigerian Government.

 Note that some of the   ILO, laws that were said to have been ratified by the Nigerian Government and currently being implemented by the agency include Maritime Labour Conventions. MLC, 2006, as amended, the Seafarers Identity Document, SID, Convention as amended and the Dork Work Convention.

He was said to have told the seafarers that they have no cause to worry as the agency will continue ‘’to focus  on implementing programmes  and projects  to improve on their welfare, mental health support  , safety training  and emergency assistance. He was said to have stated further that the agency  will continue to eliminate  substandard  vessel  from sailing in Nigeria waters  as well as ensure  that wrecks  are removed  to aid navigation  and safety of seafarers

He had  alluded to the fact  that  many beneficiaries  of the Nigerian Seafarers  Development Programme, NSDP,  are currently  undergoing  mandatory sea –time  training  aboard  ocean-going vessels, noting that  that the agency is collaborating  with key  stakeholders like the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company, NLNG, Shipping and Marine Services Limited, , the Nigerian Content Development  and Monitoring Board, NCDMB,  , Indigenous Shipping Companies  and the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, which were said to be geared  towards  boosting  the capacity  of the nation’s seafarers.

Dominguez: IMO, Secretary General

Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director, and spokesperson, NIMASA, had said that the seafarers Day is organized by the IMO Arsenio Dominguez, Secretary General, IMO,   message that the 2024, seafarers Day Campaign will look at their contribution to making the maritime sector a safer workplace speaks volume.

The IMO , Secretary General,  who had said that  seafarers spend  a great deal  of their time on board ocean going vessels, which provides many opportunities  for them ‘’to take  pictures  of their working  environment , highlighting  how they  keep  their workplace safe’ is very revealing’.

Going down the memory lane IMO, Secretary General, had said that the Day of the Seafarer, June 25, was established in a resolution by 2010, Diplomatic   Conference in Manila to adopt the revised, Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping foe Seafarers, STWC, Convention. The IMO Chief had said that the purpose   is ‘’to recognize the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole.

He had asserted that the resolution encourages member countries of the IMO respective governments shipping Organizations, companies, Ship-owners, and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully’’. The Day of the seafarer has been recognized by the UN, as an ‘’Observance day’’.

    Katie Higginbottom, from the International Transport ederaion, ITF, who was said to have joined the 2024 seafarers celebration virtually was said to have emphasized that that seafarers are a critical part of the global maritime and cannot be ignored. She had commended NIMASA’s renewed collaboration with the ITF, to ensure   that seafarers receive the necessary attention from their respective countries governments.

Ma Meija, a Professor and President, World Maritime University, who was said to have also joined the 2024, seafarers Day, virtually in Nigeria, was said to have expressed gratitude to the Nigerian seafarers and described them as ’’the modern day ` heroes ` who deserve celebration’’.

In their goodwill messages, stakeholders were said to have taking turns to praise the invaluable contributions  of the seafarers to the global economy, urging governments of maritime nations  to continue  supporting  them  through  favourable policies  that will  enhance their well-being  in line  with MLC, 2006.

Adewale Adeyanju, President –General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, Mustapha Hassan, a Rear Admiral and Flag Officer, Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria’ commercial nerve centre, and President of the Ship-owners Association, among others, had said that international Day of the seafarers which is celebrated yearly, precisely on June 25, to recognize the contributions of the seafarers to international seaborne trade and the world economy is a welcome development.

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