All is now set for the start of the Institute of Maritime Studies (IMS) initiated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in September this year, the Director General of the agency, Mr. Ziakede Akpobolokemi, has said.
An initiative of Akpobolokemi, IMS, which is meant to boost manpower capacity in the maritime sector of the economy, is in selected universities across the country.
The universities are Niger Delta University (NDU), Amasoma, University of Lagos, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the IBB University Lapai, Niger State.
Akpobolokemi dropped the hint when he hosted the Vice Chancellors of the four institutions at Maritime House, the corporate headquarters of the agency in Lagos.
He revealed that a consultant has been appointed to work closely with the authorities of the selected varsities to assist them in setting up the academic curriculum of the proposed maritime institutes.
He noted that government business is a time-bound business and that there is a need to fast track the project, so that the institutions can start its first session later this year as September/October is the expected date of commencement of academic programmes in the various institutions.
According to the NIMASA helmsman, who was a lecturer at NDU before his appointment over two years ago, there is a need to develop the Nigerian maritime sector through manpower and capacity building for the youths so that the untapped resources in the sector can be properly harnessed.
"If things are not properly put in place, the Philippines will dominate the maritime sector of our economy", he added.
He stated that grants would be given to the various universities to commence work and also advised that the programmes could commence at temporary sites, while the main construction is ongoing.
Professor Babajide Alo, who represented the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, expressed the readiness of UNILAG to commence the programmes and that the school authority has obtained necessary approvals from its Senate and Governing Council, while awaiting the agency's go ahead to proceed to site.
Alo revealed that a curriculum programme is being worked upon and that UNILAG plans to run courses relating to seafaring that will lead to a Certificate of Competence (COC) which would be recognised worldwide.
"As part of efforts to fast track the programmes, UNILAG will start with courses that will not have to go through NUC approval", he said.
He also noted that there is a need for a signed memorandum of agreement between UNILAG and NIMASA to solidify the proposed partnership.
Vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. Barth Okolo, who pointed out that poor planning was one of the factors responsible for the decadence in the educational sector of the economy, commended NIMASA for the step taken in ensuring the smooth take off of the maritime institutes in the selected institutions.
He also expressed the readiness of his institution to begin the programmes as soon as all necessary requirements are put in place.
Also speaking at the meeting, the Acting Vice Chancellor of the Niger Delta University noted that courses related to marine sciences are already in place in NDU and that the school is prepared to begin programmes in maritime studies within the shortest possible time.
Professor Ibrahim Adamu Kolo, Vice Chancellor of the IBB University, Lapai, Niger State, in his contribution, expressed gratitude to NIMASA for selecting his institution as one of the beneficiaries of the maritime institute among all others in Nigeria.
He said that the IBB University would go into necessary maritime courses as soon as the required manpower is put in place. Also, as part of the readiness of his institution to partner with NIMASA, there will be a building of administrative synergy between the university and the agency and also a board for NIMASA.
Special Adviser to the Director General of NIMASA and the Chairman, Committee on the Establishment of the maritime institutions, Dr. Promise Jombo, enjoined all parties involved to work together to ensure the smooth take off of the institutes as scheduled.
Top management staff members of the agency and the various selected universities, including eminent professors, were present at the occasion.