Abuse of Uniform: Merchant Navy & Nigerian Navy in Focus

…Union Says Merchant Navy knows Waterways better than Nigerian Navy

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA) has made succinct clarifications over raging controversies of impersonation and uniform abuse between the Nigerian Navy uniform and merchant navy uniform, arguing that both bodies have equal rights to wear their uniforms as they please.

This is coming on the heels of recent arrests and harassment of members of the seafarers union in Lagos and Ogun States by Nigerian police officers over alleged impersonation of the Nigerian Navy.

The NMNOWTSSA is a Federal Government recognised seafarers union, set up by the Trade Union Act, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and International Transport Federation (ITF London)

The National Secretary of the union, Comrade John Aliakwe Okpono while fielding questions from journalists in Lagos at the weekend said the seafarers have a right to wear their uniforms while ashore, without being harassed by the Nigerian Navy.

Comrade John Aliakwe Okpono, National Secretary, Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association.

According to him, both organisations enjoy maximum corporation from each other, but for some overzealous ratings and junior officers.

Comrade Okpono said the merchant navy personnel knows the waterways better and can navigate even better than the Nigerian Navy Officers.

“The Merchant Navy uniform is not only meant to be worn at sea, you can wear it as it pleases you, but remember that the abuse of the uniform cuts across, the Nigerian Police or Nigerian Army can also abuse their uniforms, the Navy can abuse it, likewise Merchant Navy officers too”

“Sometimes ago, about ten to fifteen years, we had an understanding between Nigerian Navy and Merchant Navy Union, that there should be a clear difference in our uniforms”

“We agreed that time that we would be using a diamond epaulets, while they would be using coat of arm, but remember that we were both colonised by Britain, but for peace and differences, we have decided to use diamond to differentiate us.

“As for the uniform proper, the sea has three different colours, some are blue, white or brown. During the flooding, it is brown, when it is calm, it is either white or blue, this is where the uniform originated from.

“Before the Nigerian Navy, we had the Royal Navy, and while the Royal Navy were here, the Northern and Southern detachment of the maritime were in existence, hence, the first Chief of Naval Staff and the second one emanated from the Merchant navy, they were all naval personnel.

“So, the coming into force of the Nigerian Navy was as a result of challenges that the Merchant personnel were having while doing their legitimate business at sea.
Today, people will still tell you that the business of the Navy is to protect our territorial waters from external aggression, we are the ones doing the business.

“During the war, the Nigerian Merchant Navy collaborated with the Nigerian Navy. During the Liberian war, our former President, Eng Mathew Alalade was on one of their security boats. Even our current President, Eng Bob Yousuo has worked on a security vessel, the security vessel is being piloted by a merchant personnel, the defense Navy handle the armoury, we are one, there is no difference between the two bodies.

“Come to talk of the waterways itself, the merchant navy knows it better than the Nigerian Navy because it is their day to day activity.

“The merchant Navy officers take vessels from Nigeria to different parts of the world on daily basis, the Nigerian Navy is not like that, it is only when they have training or special vessel they want to send for dry docking, they don’t marry the waters as the core Merchant personnel.

“For the Merchant navy, their entire lifetime is Water, meanwhile, it is not all Nigerian Navy Officers that are into seamanship, there are some that don’t even go to the waterways, but all merchant navy personnel are all Water oriented officers.

“So, the uniform is not only designated to be worn on the vessel, mind you, in the engineering, you cannot wear uniform at work, you only wear coverall, this is what we call Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and headgear, to prevent oil spillage and so on.
So, you cannot wear your uniform here.

“If the merchant navy officer wants to get married, we have our ceremonial wears, we have the pattern we sew, while they also have their own pattern.

“If you want to wear your uniform at shore, you must not abuse it, you cannot wear an officers uniform from OOW to Captain and begin to drag a bus, you put your uniform in the car and drive.

“We as a professional body, we don’t want our members to be uniform drunk, just be disciplined, the uniform does not add or reduce from you, your COC is what makes you a captain, whether you are on uniform or not, your identity card has identified you.

“As a merchant Navy officer, you are allowed to wear your uniform while ashore, however, you must not wear it to create problems, or be jumping a bus, entering a bus, claiming officer and refusing to pay, the man doing the transport business is doing his personal business. You cannot wear your uniform and go to the canteen to demand food without paying, therefore you cannot enter a bus and not pay.

“Merchant Navy and Nigerian Navy do not have any problems, most of the challenges is from the ratings” he said

2 thoughts on “Abuse of Uniform: Merchant Navy & Nigerian Navy in Focus

  1. Well said. The analysis is very clear for even a baby to understand. The war of supremacy over wearing of uniform by merchant navy and Nigeria navy is becoming so tiresome, and the problem emanated from lack of knowledge and understanding of professional efficacy. It is only in Nigeria we continue to see this, in the western world and most especially neighboring countries in Africa, you find both organization working efficiently with regards and respect for each other. The speaker has made a clear point, and I think it should be respectfully treated to letters.
    Thanks.

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