The European Union (EU) and Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) in conjunction with Akwa Ibom State government have trained no fewer than 20 former militants drawn from Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local government areas on livelihood skills.
The training areas which comes under the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) action and funded by the European Union (EU), Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) included driving, poultry, wielding, ICT, auto mechanic, photography, hairdressing, furnishing and plumbing.
At the graduation ceremony in Uyo, the state capital, executive director, LITE-Africa, Dr Joel Bisina, the implementing non-governmental organisation, gave overview of the programme, noting that it has helped non-state actors to willingly surrender arms to the government and be reintegrated into the larger society.
According to him, with the active support of the state government some arms were destroyed in 2019. Bisina advised the beneficiaries to imbibe the right attitude by putting the skills they have acquired to productive use.
“With the gracious support of the EU, ECOWAS, the next stage is the start up phase which we have put a process in place for funding. On your own, I want you not to sit down and fold your arms.
I want you to start something to keep your skills alive”, he said.
Also speaking, representative of the state government, Captain Iniobong Ekong (rtd), lauded the donor agencies for the interest in the wellbeing, rehabilitation of the beneficiaries and ensuring alternative livelihood for them.
He said the state government takes the welfare and security of its people seriously, which explained why the state government extended the olive branch to them even as he thanked them ”for voluntarily surrendering their weapons and also offering to come under the umbrella of this training.”
In a welcome address, managing partner, Consulting International Service Limited, Godfrey Ajayi Sunday, explained that the training was the 3rd batch of the SALW action and that 280 persons had earlier been trained in Delta, Enugu and Abuja.