In line with its objectives to expose Nigerian children to the career opportunities and vocations in maritime, Ocean Ambassadors Foundation (OAF) embarked on a tour of the nation’s busiest port with 40 secondary school pupils and 15 teachers on Tuesday.
The training programme also featured lectures on maritime tourism and maritime soft skills to stimulate interest in the maritime sector among younger generation.
During a visit to Lagos Ports Complex, the Port Manager, Apapa Port, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Charles Okaga explained the day-to-day operations of the ports and the numerous career and business opportunities in the sector.
He asserted that there isn’t a better way to prepare the next crop of influential maritime personalities in the country other than the catch-them-young approach being utilized by the OAF.
“OAF is doing a very good thing by directing the attention of these young ones to the maritime sector which will position them to easily take up a career in the sector,” Okaga said.
The school students also visited ENL Terminal, the operators of shed C and D of Apapa port, where they were showed different kinds of ships and containers, how ships berth, how to track a vessel and check its history and features via the IMO number, among others.
Speaking earlier on the theme, “Introduction to Maritime Soft Skills and Maritime Tourism,” the Managing Director, Multimix Academy, Mrs. Oluchi Okafor, noted that maritime tourism has always been neglected in the country, but inspired the young ones to know the potentials that abound in the sector and explore them.
“Tourism has always been the neglected part of the maritime industry, most people look at the shipping and international trade aspect of it, but there is more attention coming in now towards tourism. Lagos State is doing fantastic job around maritime tourism, a lot more marine based resorts and event centres are popping up especially around the Lekki-Ajah axis and this brings employment opportunities to the sector,” she said.
Meanwhile, a practical craft training was carried out by a veteran coconut artist, and member of Society of Nigerian Artists, Lagos State Chapter, Mr. Nathaniel Hodonu.
The Badagry-born craftsman, who is also a member of the Circle of Nigerian Coconut Artists, showed how coconut and its bi-products could be deployed for arts, crafts and designs.
He equally explained how his ingenuity got him featured on BBC, Reuters, among other local and international media platforms to discuss arts following his three solo exhibitions and numerous group shows.
On his part, the General Manager, Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA), Mr. Dapo Olakulehin, noted that the coconut value chain is an untapped space urging the students to show interest in the sector.
Olakulehin, who was represented by Mr. Akorede Adeboye, Senior Agricultural Officer, LASCODA, pointed out that there was no waste in coconut tree as from the leaves to the trunk and even root was useful.
“Coconut leaves are used to make brooms, mats, caps, bags, etc. The fruit has versatile usage; the trunk is used majorly in the furniture industry and the roots used for herbal drugs and crafts. With the coconut arts and crafts, the Authority has been able to train 2,000 youths and they have recorded so many success stories,” he said.
Also speaking, Mrs Theodora Nwaeze, Human Resources Manager, LTT Coastal and Marine Services Ltd., while educating the student on tourism said, “the good thing about the event is that these young ones will go onboard vessels, see the different parts of the vessel and this serve as tourism for them.”
“As you visit the port, I want you all to know that you can be a captain of a vessel, port manager, maritime lawyer, crane manager and also understand that apart from jobs in the vessel, there are others in office.”
The President, OAF, Mrs Violet Williams stressed that acquiring skills was essential for one to be able to compete globally with their peers.
She also expressed optimism that with the new Marine and Blue Economy Ministry, the federal government has seen a change in the global village concept and this will help the sector maximize its potentials.