Maritime Quiz Competition: Eshilokun Commends OAF For Catching Them Young.

…Urges Students To Build Career In Maritime Sector
 …As OAF Inaugurates League Of Mentors 
The Chairman, house committee on Marine Transportation, Senator Wasiu Eshilokun Sanni in his goodwill message to Ocean Ambassadors Foundation had said that the foundation’s initiative of catching them young is insightful and worth commending.
Senator Eshilokun said this at the Educators & Maritime Stakeholders Lecture & Awards and 4th Nationwide Virtual Maritime Quiz Competition organized by the Ocean Ambassadors Foundation (OAF) on Monday 27th November 2023 at Radisson Blu hotel, Ikeja GRA Lagos.
Eshilokun who was represented by a retired Permanent Secretary in Lagos and currently his Chief of Staff, Hakeem Adeniyi stated that the foundation’s initiative of training a girl child is in fulfilling the  saying that “if you train a girl child you must have  trained the whole country of the world” and also exposing stakeholders in the Maritime industry to better ways of doing their businesses.
He hinted that supporting the  education of younger ones had always been his concern  and goal even while serving as local government chairman. “For some of you that are conversant with my antecedents, one major thing that has endowed my mind is educating our younger ones just as this event is about.
“When I was the chairman of Lagos Island local government I facilitated a number of vocational trainings, the major one is “My complete Student” it entails providing all schooling materials starting from shoes, school bags , notebooks, mathematics set to all students , all pupils in all the 13 primary schools  in the Lagos Island local government. And this I did through out the two term (6yrs) I spent in office.
“And also all the primary schools were modernized with modern days facilities, three of them were rebuild from scratch just to see how child education are important to me  It’s on this note that I want to congratulate the  winner of this year competition amongst our students present here today. Even though there will always be a winner who will emerge but I can assure you that all of you that participated are winners because getting to this stage is not an easy job and count yourself very lucky to have come to an industry, a sector that has not been well tapped into.
“So look at that sector as future endeavors for yourself and put your mind to becoming a professional in the Maritime sector.” He said.
He however appreciate the President for creating Blue Economy ministry “We give kudos to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for including blue economy in the Maritime sector, it’s an area that we have idea but never tapped into , a sector of billions and trillions of naira. Apart from this competition, this is a sector you should look into in terms of career opportunities” Senator Eshilokun said.
The keynote speaker at the event, Mrs Olufunmi Olotu disclosed that the strong narrative about the blue economy  is harnessing the potentials of the ocean and ensuring  that there’s an economic growth for the nation, the people and protecting nature.
While speaking on the theme: Blue Economy and future of the girl child, Mrs Olotu who was the former Port Manager of the premiere port, Apapa Lagos hinted that over the years the GIRL CHILD has been marginalized and the prospect for them is to look for the opportunity to go down to the basis, which is to catch them young.
Mrs Olotu stressed the need for industry experts to start reaching out to the girl child now and not until they are done with schooling, according to her ‘Don’t wait until they finish their thesis and they are having challenges, can we start dealing with them now, start talking to them and encourage them to see that there are opportunities in the maritime sector with the creation of the marine and blue economy ministry.
“Let them realise that they can fit in, we don’t want to see these girls hawking smoked fish, being abuse by men as sexual tools or maybe people that are going onboard or coming ashore.
‘We want to see them play significant roles and we are showcasing women maritime personalities so that they can know that if these women can do it, they too can” She quipped.
She added that provision of platforms for mentorship such as the Ocean Ambassadors Foundation should be encouraged in order to support the children, both girls and boys to have a future in the Maritime industry.
Adding that what can be done to bridge the gap in schools is through awareness advocacy and events like OAF is doing.
She hinted that there are platforms for children to visit the port , all the schools need do is get to the port manager and let them know their intention for excursion, they will be receive with a tour guide or even board a vessel for nursery, primary, secondary and even tertiary.
While urging the educators to spread the potentials of the Maritime sector, she said “I believe that the educators that are present today will join us when they get back to tell others that there is a maritime industry, a Marine and Blue Economy Ministry and there are very wonderful opportunities for those that want to be part of it.
“My advice to students present is to get mentors from this programme, they should not just walk away. Like the young lady that schools in University of Lagos that has been trying severally to do her internship in Unilag but not possible, her attending the program today has networked her to meet the director of  a notable parastatal. Our own way of giving back. Ask questions, meet people, we are dragging them, pulling them to have the opportunity and this is our own giving back what we learnt. This is what we can do to bridge the gap and everyone is together in this” Olotu said.
In her welcome address, the convener of Ocean Ambassadors Foundation, Honorable Olaitan Williams speaks on the journey so far. She explained that the Foundation started with a passion as she came from a rich Maritime community called Ehingbeti,
which has been in existence for over hundred years with commerce thriving but the sad aspect was there was no succession plan.
In her explanation, she grew up there and never knew there was anything called Maritime, just like all students and most adults present at the event never knew there is career in the Maritime sector.
According to her, it became a challenge when she got into the industry and discovered that she has for long be sitting on gold, she decided to challenge herself that she will plant into the upcoming generations whatever she was able to know of the sector.
Mrs Williams stated that the Foundation started in the last eight years with “School to Sea” where they just run quizzes  within Lagos only but during Covid OAF educational palliative was launched nationwide  which made an impact in lives of these children.
They had the first Maritime virtual quiz competition with about 3000 students, reason being that students were at home and parents wanted them to be busy. With the sponsorship.of Unity bank, they recorded over 3000 students in 2021 but in 2022 the number declined to 2000 plus, reason being that no sponsor came forth.
 For this year 2023 she disclosed that they had 1780 students nationwide with the reason still due to lack of sponsorship even though some companies are trying but for the succession plan to make an impact in the life’s of the children more collaboration is expected.
On blue economy, she quipped that Nigeria is not yet there, in her words “In last five years we started the lecture series on  Blue Economy, the future of Nigeria and we have always advocated for the creation of Blue Economy Ministry. We say a very big thank you for the president for giving us at last this ministry.
“If we look at 2030 till now, it’s just few years and this children are the one’s that will rewrite the Maritime history of Nigeria especially the blue economy”
Speaking on the book launch titled ” Some Career Opportunities In The Marine And Blue Economy Workplace”, she disclosed that what prompted publishing of the book was as a result of her discovery that some students and educators lack knowledge of careers in the Maritime sector, in her words “You know initially we had one that has a compilation of past lecture series in the past six years, but this one, i discovered that a ten year old doesn’t even know the color of water not to talk of careers therein, so what we are trying to do in essence is to make sure that an elementary school boy or girl will fashion out his or her career in marine and blue economy from the early ages. So I had to simplify it so that.with the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy it will be easier even at the top to understand because it is new.
“Most people that got to the Maritime industry, believe you me you heard them all, they got in accidentally but we want a sustainable industry so that it will not be an accidental entry but a purposeful entry with sustainability.
“We only have the platform now which is the framework but the impetus to continue is sustainability and we must start.from the cradle, that was what informed the book publication” She responded.
On plans to add the book to the school curriculum, she disclosed that the foundation has written to ministry of education and fortunately they got reply from their agency that deals with curriculum, “that is where we are now but not with the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, they should take it up because then we were advocating for a Blue Economy industry and now that we have it, let them take it up, we have done our beats, they should now invite us to ask us where we have stopped, because we are stopping when it comes to curriculum ” she added.
The book was reviewed by Chief Mrs Carolyn Ufere, an independent Maritime practitioner and former Manager of Nigeria Ports Authority.
The high point of the event was the presentation of honors to the various individuals and organizations and also to students who had done excellently well in the competition.
 LTT and NSC bagged the Ocean Ambassadors Foundation blue talent investors while the Ovean Ambassadors Foundation league of mentors was inaugurated in order to help students in various universities to acquire more knowledge from veterans in the industry which we lacked.
They are; Captain  Tajudeen Alao, President, Nigeria Association of Master Mariners, Mrs Ekeoma Ezeibe, Deputy President Nigeria Council of Tegistered Insurance Brokers, Chief Mrs Ufere, an independent Maritime Practitioner and a Licensed Human Resources Practitioner, Mrs. Funmilayo Olotu, Port Administration, Mr.Moses Fadipe, Port Operations,
Multimix Academy, Supply Chain and Logistics, Mrs.Olayinka Oladunjoye, Insurance Broker and Mrs Oluseyi Adejuyigbe Managing Partner, Chaniel Chambers.


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