By Dapo Olawuni

culled from www.nigeriamaritime360.com

A frontline Non Government Organization (NGO) in the maritime sector; Ocean Ambassadors, has advised the Nigerian government to stop mouthing the concept of Blue Economy in Nigeria, but to put it into action by endeavoring to “catch them young” through introduction of maritime studies at secondary schools.

Principal Partner of Vow Ventures, owners of the NGO, Mrs Violet Olaitan Williams told our correspondent that the world is now talking about blue economy which has to do with tapping and maximizing their God given resources in the oceans, meanwhile in Nigeria, many youths do not understand what maritime is all about.

Without sensitization, she said it would be difficult for Nigeria to plug into the sustainable development goals for blue economy for the African nations not to talk of the global level.

To this end, Mrs Williams announced that the NGO is set to host a first of its kind Nigerian Maritime E-quiz, a School to Sea Campaign for Secondary Schools Students in Nigeria. The event is set to take place in Lagos on Monday September 24, 2019.

According to the Principal Partner, the E-quiz will enable Secondary School students to appreciate Maritime courses and the career opportunities in it.

Mrs Williams appealed to the Federal Ministry of Transportation to collaborate with Federal Ministry of Education in order to include Maritime studies into the secondary schools curriculum.

She suggested that if not in the full curriculum, maritime should at least be an extra-curricular activity whereby the children will  visit the seaports, board vessels to create a thirst for them to take on maritime related studies.

She noted that once there is a synergy between the two Ministries, it will automatically be domesticated in each state regardless of it being a coastal state or not.

She said; “The National Maritime quiz is first of its kind in Nigeria and the simple reason behind it is that, Nigeria is a maritime nation and we have so many states that are coastal communities like; Akwa ibom, Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, Cross river and Bayelsa but, if you ask average students in those areas if they know about maritime careers, they would not understand what you are even saying”

“On the 25th, we would have the School to Sea Summit whereby we would bring maritime and education stakeholders together to see how we can start the sensitization, how we can create the awareness in various schools so that maritime would be on the lips of every child”

“We would also have awards for our past sponsors like, NIMASA, Sifax Group, ENL Terminal, TCIP, Nigeria Shippers Council, Nigeria Export Promotion Council and a host of others since 2015 to be accompanied by a boat cruise for both investors and stakeholders to see what the shoreline of Lagos is”

“We have to demystify the fear of no go area for water, eradicate the phobia and by the next year we shall be having such conference, we shall surely have improvements”

“Lagos State which is a coastal community with concentration of schools don’t know about maritime careers nor know how to chart a way forward for students when they fail Jamb and admission to the University isn’t possible. So, we decided to have many tools to creating the awareness at an early age for secondary schools students. The concept is to catch them young in the area of transportation, trade and tourism mega sector of the economy so, we brought out maritime because, in maritime there are vast opportunities”

“Now the global village is talking about blue economy, when we don’t even know what the maritime is all about, how can we now plug into the sustainable development goals for blue economy for the African nations not to talk of at the global level? So, we have to start the sensitization now”

“We have been doing it for like five years and the project was endorsed by University of Lagos (UNILAG), the department of Geography to the Post Graduate level. We had a mini-quiz for just the private schools students within Lagos state and the first, second and the third prize winners were taken to Ghana to have another maritime experience which opened the children’s eyes”

“These children are now in love with maritime, one of them is now in the University in Warri, one wants to go into maritime studies and the other wants to be a sea captain. So, all these children need is exposure and you will see that the nation will have so many seafarers, logisticians because, maritime is not only about sea fearing, we have engineers, naval architects and so many other careers embedded in it”

“We have now gone ahead to come up with the concept of the National Maritime quiz, the first of its kind and we are using Lagos state as our starting point to represent South West because of the concentration of schools. We’ll be having an expanded event come September 24, 2019 where both public and private schools will be meeting in Unilag to attend the first ever maritime E-quiz in Nigeria and by December, we will be moving to Port Harcourt to represent the South East and the South/South, then next year we move to Abuja for the Northern parts of the country”

“We are using this opportunity to appeal to sponsors to come and partner with us to help fashion out a different horizon for the well-being of this upcoming generation because if we don’t do it now, we would have another neo colonization, there would be a gap. As it is now, we are clamoring for Nigerian vessels, who will Man these vessels? Is it the same foreigners again? And we are talking about local content, where does local content come in If we don’t catch them young now? What stops Nigeria from emulating the Asian countries that have best seafarers and are training and encouraging their students to learn on the field? So, we want this upcoming generation to rewrite the maritime history of Nigeria in the global space and i’m sure we would get there very soon”

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