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The Economic Community of West African States( (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU) have trained a total of 50 former militants who surrendered their weapons to Akwa Ibom State government in Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local government areas.
The unions also gave starter packs to them so that they would be fully reintegrated into the society.
The empowerment was one of the efforts to ensure security of lives and peace in Nigeria through the implementation of the ECOWAS-EU Small Arms and Light Weapons disarmament programme.
Presenting the starter packs to the former militants in Uyo on Saturday, the Executive Director of LITE Africa, a Non-Governmental Organisation known as Leadership Initiative Transformation and Empowerment LITE, Dr Joel Bisina, in collaboration, with the National Centre for Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, disclosed that the beneficiaries were 50 out of 150 former militants from Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun council areas who laid down their weapons for peace in Akwa Ibom communities.
“We are empowering 50 beneficiaries per state today bringing the total to 100. Those benefiting today are persons trained in barbing, fashion and design, make-up, ICT, graphic design and many more,” he said.
Dr Bisina expressed appreciation to the European Union (EU) through ECOWAS for supporting the ECOWAS Peace and Security Stabilisation (PASS), and the Nigeria component of the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).
He explained that the empowerment was aimed at preventing further proliferation of illicit trafficking and flow of SALW in Nigeria and promoting peace and security in our borders.
According to him, “The SALW Action is designed to sensitise border communities, strengthen the capacity of national security institutions personnel on border and arm stockpile management, armoury security and arms destruction as well as provision of alternative livelihoods in the Action states of Akwa-Ibom, Cross-Rivers, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states.”
He expressed hope that beneficiaries would make a decent living through diligence and prudent use and management of their various business concerns, urging them to desist from the temptation of selling off business start-up items because the cash they would realize from such sales would not take them too far.
The starter packs include Laptop Computers with Multipurpose Printers, Generators, Welding Machines, Barbering Equipment, Equipment for Electrical Installation, Sewing Machines and other facilities to first 50 set of Etim Ekpo / Ukanafun council areas repentant Militants who were trained to acquire skills such as welding, electrical installation, tailoring, computer operation and others.
Addressing the beneficiaries, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel advised the former militants to use the equipment to better their lives.
The Governor, who was represented by Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem commended ECOWAS and EU for their contribution for peace in volatile areas in the State, adding that the effort had brought peace to the areas.
“What EU-ECOWAS has done is by first training them to acquire the right skills and also mentor them to learn how to fish rather than giving them just fish,” he noted.
He tasked them to think big even though they were starting small in their various skills.
His words, “You are like the mustard seed that grows into a big tree, I wish to see in a not long time, the consultants and the ECOWAS-EU retur