The European Union (EU) in conjunction with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has identified six communities in Akwa Ibom and Cross River states to benefit from its Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).
The beneficiary communities in Akwa Ibom include Otoro Obong, Ikpe Anang in Etim Ekpo, and Ikot Akpan Afaha, Ukanafun local governments, while Cross River State has Ipong in Obudu, Bojie/Borom in Boki, and Akpab Okon Ene Ita in Bakassi local governments as beneficiaries.
The projects to be implemented in the communities include the provision of a borehole, renovation of the town hall, construction of abattoir, restoration and rehabilitation of electricity supply.
The Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) is an intervention action aimed to contribute to building and maintaining peace, security, and stability in West Africa, to ensure conditions for development.
Besides, the action is a selected key component of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) to augment its efforts at preventing further the proliferation of illicit trafficking and flow of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria.
Executive Director of Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE) –Africa, Dr. Joel Bisina, said the implementing Non-Governmental Organization, who visited the communities for assessment, underscored the objective of the action.
He said the state governments, EU and ECOWAS, mopped up some arms from the states and destroyed them in December 2019.
Bisina added that about 300 youths from the two states in the Southsouth have been trained in vocational and agricultural skills and that the beneficiaries will soon be empowered with starter packs.
He said the micro-projects were rewards and incentives for the communities.
“In Nigeria, we are working in seven states, including Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Kebbi, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, and Jigawa. It is my hope and prayer that we will enjoy the cooperation of everyone in the community. While the work is going on, we will be coming from time to time to do the inspection,” Bisina said.
The former Chairman, Etim Ekpo, Udeme Eduo had briefed the leaders, youths, and women at Otoro Obong and Ikpe Annang about the mission of the LITE-Africa’s team in their domain, recounting that the area was deserted because of youth restiveness and insurgency.
He said all hands should be on deck to ensure the success of the projects.
The representative of the Chairman of Etim Ekpo, Mkpouto Umanah, the supervisor for Works and Housing, hailed the donor agencies for the intervention and solicited the cooperation of all and sundry to ensure the completion of the projects in the communities, stressing the government’s commitment towards the sustenance of peace.
The Chairman of Mboho Annag Welfare Association (MAWA), Chief Jumbo Paul Akpan, said the communities would support the intervention and that the abattoir project for Mboho Annang market was selected after need assessment.
The Village Head of Ikpe Annang, Chief Sunday Udoewoh, said peace had finally returned to the area.
The former member of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Akanimo Edet, urged the people to deepen the peace process, because, according to him, ‘’more good things are coming to rehabilitate the area and we don’t want problem and disturbance of the progress of work.’’ (The Nation)