Engr Israel Obadan

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Highlights of his Interview

Born in Owan West Local Government in Edo State; schooled at Avbiosi New Site and at Benin City, Garrick Memorial Grammar School with scholarship under the Brigadier Ogbemudia administration in Bendel State; attended Auchi Polytechnic, mechanical engineering; knew a senior Polytechnic colleague, George Oruamen, who had been employed in the NNSL and had later gone to Singapore; so, after Polytechnic education, he applied to the NNSL and was taken; his batch was taken first to Ghana Railways and Harbours Takoradi in 1976, then Tema Shipyard Tema in 1977 under what the NNSL called Alternative Cadetship Scheme; stayed two years in Ghana; thereafter taken to the UK; named the cadets in their set; reaction of culture shock when they reached the UK; personal impression of the UK; their study and sea time career for ten straight years; some of the ships he sailed such as the River Gurara, River Hadejia, River Majidun, River Andoni and Nnamdi Azikiwe; major happenings or funny incidents he could recall, such as the social life and philandering activities with women, etc; the funny incident of a cadet who picked up a deaf and dumb lady at San Pedro port and the skirmish in the morning when he paid he less than her expectation; another incident in Nagoya port in Japan around 1984, an encounter with a Japanese businessman who had had an unpleasant experience with a Nigerian dupe and therefore not happy with Nigerians; the voyages undertaken, mainly general cargoes, cocoa, logs, rubber, timber, general consumer goods, few containers from Japan; trips to Japan made in ballast, very few exports; comparison with Iranian Shipping Line, Kuwait Shipping Line, etc which are still trading; the deficit of good political leadership as the bane of Nigeria; his trips to the Carribeans, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago; his stay in Liverpool for six years but his family base in Lagos; his children’s career, with the daughter schooling at Harvard on scholarship, with awards; enjoyed fast promotion to second engineer in connection with his readiness for Far East runs; summary of the downfall of NNSL, the causes; the role of expatriate management during the years NNSL performed well; his work in Pacific International Line of Singapore and the conditions; recommended visionary leadership as one of the solutions to recover Nigeria’s position as a maritime nation; the reason he left NNSL, based on principles and the deterioration of management issues in 1988 as a second engineer; got a job as second engineer during his long leave of 18 months aboard Africa Ocean Line’s Atinuke Abiola; returned to work in 1989 and was posted to River Ekpan as the second engineer; requisitions for service materials had gone so bad that workers were required to go unofficially and borrow working materials from sister ships; secondly, there were holes on the deck of River Ekpan and holes in the foc’sle and the metal plates were corroded; these caused him so much personal discontent that he resigned; the problem of “gbagbati”, the probable origins of the practice and the countries that practiced it; after NNSL, worked with PIL Singapore, Nigerian Green Line, promoted there as chief engineer; worked with Karlander Shipping for 6 years; Genesis Shipping Line; Helko Marine, as a Technical Manager and General Manager until 2005; thereafter set up Realot Marine as his own private consultancy, ship inspections.