By Harris Emanuel
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, will partner Akwa Ibom State government to train 150 repentant militants in the state.
The trainees, ex-militants that embraced the state government’s amnesty programme in 2018, were drawn from Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo council areas.
Leader of the delegation and Programme Co-coordinator of the ECOWAS Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Dr. Dickson Orji, disclosed this during a visit to Governor Udom Emmanuel in Uyo, the state capital.
Orji informed the governor that about “one hundred and fifty youths that have been penciled down for the programme will be trained in diverse fields and the first phase of the training, due to begin next month, will be completed in May.”
The Programme Co-Ordinator stated that they had a meeting with the benefiting communities on the modalities to be employed in the choice of the projects to be sited in their domain, adding that those communities will be expected to bring forward the costing for the execution of those projects within a stipulated period, while the responsibility of the committee will be to monitor, approve and release funds.
The governor, in his response, expressed the determination of his administration to make the oil-rich state a haven for its citizens, tourists and investors alike.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, the governor lauded the committee for coming to partner him to end youth restiveness, insecurity and other criminal vices in the state and as well provide sustainable means of livelihood through intervention programme for the unemployed youths.
While attributing the prevailing peace and tranquillity presently enjoyed in the state to his proactive measures in stemming insurgency, Emmanuel pledged to continue to work hard to ensure that the state remains the most peaceful one in the country.
He added: “I must commend ECOWAS for offering to train 150 youth in skills mapping acquisition and I would like to urge you to increase the number to 200 so that our youth can get more opportunities to better their lives and let me assure you of the state government readiness to partner with you.”
Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security, Captain Iniobong Ekong (rtd), thanked the governor for his prompt intervention in the uprising at Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo Local Government areas.
According to him, it was the governor’s timely intervention and granting of amnesty that facilitated the laying down of arms and light weapons before the committee stepped in to interface with the stakeholders and communities to accommodate them in their training packages.