Ada Wodu, Calabar
At least 150 ex-militants in Cross River State were on Tuesday transported to various locations outside the state for skill acquisition as part of the Alternative Livelihood component of the ECOWAS-EU Small Arms Project.
Speaking at the State Police Command Headquarters, Calabar, where the ex-militants gathered before the trip, the National Project Coordinator of the Nigerian component of the project, Dickson Orji, who represented Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, said the event was “a major milestone in the implementation of the Nigerian component of the ECOWAS-EU Small Arms Action.
“The first batch of the selected beneficiaries is being lifted to the various centres of excellence across Nigeria where they would undergo training in the skills of their choices. The skill acquisition training is part of the 5th output — the Alternative Livelihood part of the project.”
He said the skills training support taking place in Abuja, Enugu, and other places, is targeted at 300 beneficiaries in the two South-South states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River, adding that it “entails skills acquisition and attitudinal training, vocational training, business development training, career development, agricultural business greenhouse farming, etc.”
Ambassador Imohe said the period of the skill acquisition varies from one to two months, adding that “the beneficiaries would be provided starter packs and guided to start their own businesses at the end of their trainings/skills acquisition.”
The Special Adviser, Amnesty and Rehabilitation in Cross River State and Focal Person for Presidential Committee on Small Arms & Weapons, representing Cross River, Austin Ibok, said “In 2018 amnesty was granted by the state government to these people. The next thing to be done was to train them in the areas of their interest.
“Cross River has provided every logistics needed for their journey to the training location. The training will change their orientation and they will become better persons when they come back.”
The Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Governor’s office, Sir Alfred Mboto, said the ex-militants should be “serious with what they have selected to do because government is very serious in transforming them from what they used to be to refined people who will contribute to the economy.”
One of the beneficiaries, Asuquo Okon Nyong, said, “I feel happy about the training programme. I enlisted for training in welding. We are ready to learn and not to cause any problem anymore.”