-By Harris Emanuel
Uyo- SIX communities in both Akwa Ibom and Cross River States are to benefit from micro projects funded by the European Union (EU) in conjunction with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The beneficiary communities in Akwa Ibom State include; Otoro Obong, Ikpe Anang in Etim Ekpo and Ikot Akpan Afaha in Ukanafun local government areas, while Cross River has; Ipong in Obudu , Bojie/Borom in Boki and Akpab Okon Ene Ita in Bakassi local government areas of Cross River State.
The projects to be implemented in the various communities include; provision of borehole, renovation of town hall, construction of abattoir, restoration and rehabilitation of electricity supply.
The intervention comes under Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) scheme targeted at maintaining peace, security, and stability in the West African region to guarantee conditions for development.
Besides, the action is a selected key component of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) to augment its efforts at preventing the proliferation of illicit trafficking and flow of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria.
The Executive Director of the implementing Non-Governmental Organization, Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE) –Africa, Dr. Joel Bisina, who visited the communities for assessments, underscored the overall objective of the action, disclosing that state governments, EU and ECOWAS, were able to mop up some arms in two states, which they destroyed.
He added that about 300 youth from the two states in the South-South geopolitical zone have been trained on vocational and agricultural skills and that the beneficiaries would soon be empowered with starter packs, explaining that 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, Kadun and Jigawa states. It is my hope and prayer that we will have the necessary cooperation of everyone in the community. While the work is going on, we will be coming from time to time to do the inspection. One thing especially, our young ones is that development cannot come to an environment where there is conflict’’, Bisina said.
Earlier, Former Chairman, Etim Ekpo, Honourbale Udeme Eduo briefed the leaders , youth and women at Otoro Obong and Ikpe Annang on the mission of the LITE-Africa’s team in their respective domains, and recalled that the entire area was deserted because of youth restiveness and insurgency , appealing to them to ensure the success of the projects.
Representative of the Chairman of Etim Ekpo, Hon Mkpouto Umanah, Supervisor for Works and Housing, commended the donor agencies for the intervention and solicited the cooperation of all and sundry to the completion of the projects in the communities, stressing government’s commitment towards the sustenance of peace in the area.
In his response, 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 needs assessment.
Similarly, Village Head of Ikpe Annang, Chief Sunday Udoewoh, expressed joy that peace has finally returned to the area, reiterating that ‘’the area was deserted but thank God that things are beginning to pick. I must commend you for bringing this good thing to this community.’’
Also speaking, former member of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Honourable Akanimo Edet, urged the people of the area to deepen the peace process as 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.’’
For his part, Chairman of Ukanafun local government area, Pastor Godwin Inyeng equally expressed delight at the initiative and assured of the council’s assistance, adding, ‘’all we want in this place is peace and peace has come to stay. We will continue to ensure that our people go about their businesses in a peaceful atmosphere.’’
Meanwhile, the team also visited the project sites at Ipong in Obudu , Bojie/Borom in Boki and Akpab Okon Ene Ita in Bakassi local government areas of Cross River State for assessment.