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NPA: Hajia Usman Champions Mentoring Of Young Girls Successor By Women Already In The Maritime Industry

Hajia  Hadiza  Bala Usman, an activist and Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, fears, that there might be dearth of women in the nation’s maritime Industry if  the  present  Operators and Investors retires from the sector. This may have forced the NPA, Managing Director, to challenge  the older  women stakeholders  in the  maritime sector  to  embark on a training programme for   more  women  maritime Professionals  that would take over from them when they eventually retire from the Industry into private life.

The NPA Managing Director who already  has a  working  agenda for women  since she joined  the Authority about four years ago  disclosed that it only way to to encourage them to  venture into the male dominated sector and make an appreciable impact,  stressing  that it would further  tilt the’’ unfair balance between male   workers  and the women the Industry.

An aggrieved Hajia  Usman who could not hide her feelings  that  the maritime sector, the world-over, is dominated by the male folk spoke  at the Conference  of Women  in Africa, WIMA, recently in Lagos, where  she noted that  in ‘’line  with the Sustainable  Development  Goals, SDG’’, which took off about four years ago, ‘’there is need  for inclusiveness and gender equality  as a way of achieving  the best  in every sector of the world economy including Maritime.

Dakuku Peterside: DG, NIMASA

Given  an insider information, the  NPA  Managing Director  revealed that at present  only 2%  of the maritime workforce  are women, which she described as very ‘’disheartening’’. She is right. Investigation by The Value News, shows that  these women who had found their way into  the  maritime sector  , particular, NPA, Nigerian Maritime  Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA ,Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC , and Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, occupy  sundry positions: Administration, Marketing  Communications or the legal  leaving the professional maritime and Engineering jobs to the male workerforce.

She frowned  at  the influence and religious practices  which exclude women  from certain career Opportunities, thus shunting out the the women  from being fully   involved in port operations

Hajia Usman, the NPA, boss,  believes that the  only way out of the gender inequality   is that ‘’there should be concerted efforts  aimed  at ensuring  that women get  into the real professions  in the maritime sector and remain with the prospect   of being appointed into  the Management cadre

Appealing to the established female maritime Operators to encourage  young girls to develop  interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, subjects  in order to pursue career  in shipping , Marine, Operations and Engineering sub-sectors of the Industry.

I is not surprising why  she has suggested  for the establishment of  specialised Institutions  and the provision  of incentives/scholarship for the  girls by the government.  Note that  the National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has  been instrumental in establishing a Maritime Academy, equivalent of a Polytechnic, an OND and HND,  degrees awarding Institution at Oron , Akwa Ibom state, and a University at Bayelsa state, which has seen the young  girls competing with their male counterparts  to gain admission  into the schools to read professional maritime courses.

Those  of them who  have qualified to be  called Seafarers     including the young girls  were said to have been attached to both local and International  ocean –going vessels to acquire the practical experience on  seamanship.  Many believe that  NPA, under the close watch of Hajia Usman, could throw NPA Financial  weight on the specialised Maritime Institutions by supporting  Dakuku Peterside led NIMASA, in the funding of the Institutions.

 Take the case of the  financing of the MAN, Oron. Past and present Rectors of the Academy , had always cried out to the Maritime Regulatory  agency to improve the funding of  the Institution but to no avail. The funding problem of the Institution  may have become pronounced that  it had attracted the attention of both past  and the  present minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who was said to have  taken it upon  himself ,  to ensure that there is ministerial   financial provision for the school , from the ministry budgetary  budgetary allocations but that was how far he could go.

There are fears that the pressure  on the  funding of the maritime Institution may weigh heavily on NIMASA this time around  with the current state of the economy which had  left the agency with little or nothing to accommodate other  extra expenditures  like the maritime institutions, without support from other agencies from the maritime sector.

With  her  experience  and interaction with the stakeholders  in the maritime sector over the last four years ,Hjia Usman, has made it clear to those that cares to listen that ‘’it was imperative to ensure  good working conditions  for women in the sector that would encourage their retention at work’’. She  cited the case of the Authority  where the women  are allowed to resume work one hour after  the normal resumption time of 8 a.m and close  by 4 p.m, one hour earlier  than the Official closing time of 5 p.m 12, months after giving birth to a new baby.

Hajia Usman may have gladdened the heart of the women at the WIMA Conference, when she revealed that  under the current Management of  NPA, Headed by her, the status of the woman  does not determine  her enjoying her privilege.

 She is right. At present, there are more female General Managers and others holding strategic positions  and making appreciable impact in the Authority that had has been produced under her  Management team. Take for instance, the port Manager , of the country’s premier port is a woman . The port Manger of Calabar port  in Cross  river state  was also said to be a woman.

 Feelers from the port indicates that the woman has started turning  the fortunes of the  port around to attract ocean going vessels, that most of the staff who had been transferred to either the busy Apapa or Tin-can Island ports on their  own prompting are now regretting it, ‘’I would have stayed put at the port, if I had known that the situation of things would one day change at the port  that had been  deserted in the past  by shipping Companies and importers, who prefer the busy  Lagos ports for their operations.

Perhaps, to ensure that more women gain employment in the  nation’s maritime sector,  she  has suggested the need for establishment of  more platforms  whilst  engendering togetherness and unison  with the purpose of speaking with one voice.  

According to Jato Adams, the Authority General Manger, Corporate and Strategic Communications, the NPA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO,  had concluded her speech at the WIMA,Conference , by  insisting that  ‘’for efficient port operations and inorder to raise the bar in productivity , ‘’there is need for capacity development across board’’. Recall that  Peterside, the NIMASA BOSS, has succeeded in enthroning capacity building in the agency,  across the board, in the last four years  which had started  paying off in its, Operations .

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