Akinsoji’s Death: A Further Depletion Of Nigerian Mariners, A Call To End Lip Service To Mentorship, Maritime Succession Plan

By: Sylvanus OBASI, Lagos

In the year 2016 during the early reign of Right Hon Rotimi Amaechi as the Transport Minister, he organised a maritime submit where all the who is who in the Nigerian Maritime sector attended. 

Amongst all myraids of issues raised and discussed at the occasion, the need for Mentorship and Succession Plan programme for the maritime sector was prominent. As a maritime journalist, I attended that program as a keen industry observer. 

Meanwhile, I was then planning to host the maiden edition of a program I tagged, “A DAY WITH NIGERIAN MARITIME STUDENTS”. It was to hold few weeks after the Transport Minister’s Maritime Summit, precisely on May 27, 2016, and Engr Greg Ogbeifun then President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) was scheduled to chair the event. 

Few Days after the 3-Days Maritime Summit by the Transportation Minister, Engr Greg called me and said, “Sylvanus, remind me the date of this your event”, I said ‘May 27 sir’. He said, “Very good, I think you should intestify your efforts towards hosting a successful event that day because I am beginning to appreciate the rationale behind this your upcoming event”. 

“At the recent Transport Minister’s submit that just ended, one of the prominent issues discussed was the need to mentor young seafarers who will be able to replace the aging mariners, and here you are planning a program which is meant to bring these cadets and young seafarers face to face with industry experts. I think I need to be there to chair the event like you requested. We need to encourage these young ones,” he said. 

Speaking further, he ask me how am I getting support for the program, I told him, we have provisions for brochure advertorial for companies and we are also seeking financial support from agencies. He enquired how much the brochure advertorial cost, I told him, he said I should make reservations for 3 brochure advertorials from him: two for his companies, Starzs Investment and Starzs Shipyard, the other for SOAN, that his office would get back to me with payment and the advert designs. 

Then, shortly after our phone call, one of his staff called and requested that I send my email address and account details. Thereafter, I received an email message where the 3 advert designs were attached, and also received a payment alert for the complete payment of the 3  brochure advertorials. 

A cadet, Kola telling his story to dignitaries and participants during AMSAY Conference in 2019

Whether SOAN later reimbursed him for the advert payment, I wouldn’t know, all I know is that he paid for all three Advertorials once from his company account. And the whole thing happened so quick and so fast in a manner and faction that my Igbo people call, ‘A na ekwu ekwu, a na eme eme’. That’s Greg Ogbeifun for you. 

On the day of the occasion, he was present to chair it. Other notable maritime dignitaries also graced the occasion. About 350 maritime students from various maritime schools in Nigeria were in attendance at the maiden edition of A DAY WITH NIGERIAN MARITIME STUDENTS in 2016. It was a successful outing in our estimation.

At the end of the event, he told me that this initiative must be sustained and that he would do his best to get Transport Ministry through the agencies to sponsor the event going forward. 

Meanwhile, in 2017, Engr Olu Akinsoji was the Father of the Day at the event, and in the course of the program, himself and other notable dignitaries who commended the initiative also harped on the need for a regular mentorship program, not just a once in a year thing, but something more frequent and with a specific focus on a target audience. 

Mr Sylvanus Obasi, Covener, AMSAY Conference and Host of M-CAMP

After listening and reviewing the discussions and suggestions made by Engr Akinsoji and others during “A DAY WITH NIGERIAN MARITIME STUDENTS”, Platforms Communications birthed a quarterly Mentorship Programme called, Maritime Career Mentorship Programme (M-CAMP) to meet the succession plan need of the maritime sector. 

While A DAY WITH NIGERIAN MARITIME STUDENTS now christened Annual Maritime Students And Youth Conference (AMSAY Conference) holds once in a year precisely on May 27 each year;  M-CAMP holds more regularly, once every 3 months. 

While AMSAY Conference is a convergence of all maritime students across the country whether seafaring or shore-based students; each edition of M-CAMP targets a specific category of students studying same or related course of study, and mentors are selected from that field to mentor and share career guardance with them. 

While AMSAY Conference involves hundreds of students from different maritime institutions; M-CAMP involves tens of students lesser than a hundred to allow for a more interactive mentoring session between mentors and mentees. 

A group picture of some maritime students and cadets during M-CAMP

Above all, the two initiatives serve unique purposes geared towards meeting the succession plan needs of the Nigerian maritime sector! Hence the stage is set for the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, the maritime agencies and parastals including interested individuals and Marine professionals to stop playing lip service to the Mentorship and succession plan needs of the industry. 

At the Night of Tribute organised for Late Engr Akinsoji recently, Maritime Stakeholders took turns to eulogise the late maritime legend, describing him as a mentor, lover of knowledge and one who contributed immensely towards the development of the maritime sector in Nigeria 

No doubt, Late Engr Olu Akinsoji was a mentor, ready to share ideas with the young ones in the most humble way. His death is really a further depletion of our seasoned mariners and a call to end lip service to the mentorship and succession plan needs of our dear maritime sector. 

A section of maritime students with during 7th AMSAY Conference

Now is the time to take mentorship seriously in honour of Late Engr Akinsoji, and not just play lip service to it. Now is time for the Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, and its relevant maritime agencies and parastals including concerned stakeholders to adopt and expand M-CAMP as a sustainable mentorship and succession plan Program for the industry and Platforms Communications would gladly oblige. 

May the soul of Engr Akinsoji and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace, Amen. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *