Ben Ezechime, Enugu
Dr Claudia Okeke, Chief Executive Officer, Aids for Women, Adolescents and Children International (AWACIO), a Non-Governmental Organisation, in collaboration with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has empowered 58 Anambra residents with starter packs after their skills acquisition training in Enugwu-ukwu, Njikoka Local Government Area.
Speaking to newsmen, Okeke said the trainees, who acquired skills on pastry and decoration, tailoring, cosmetics and saloon, barbing, phone repair, commercial grinding and tiling, were drawn from seven communities in the state.
She said that AWACIO, picked trainees in Anambra Central Senatorial district which included Anaocha, Awka North, Awka South, Dunukofia, Njikoka, Idemili North and Idemili South.
Okeke said that the whole idea of the programme was to fight poverty and joblessness, while empowering the youth to be self-reliant and to become employers of labour as well.
“This year 2023, AWACIO embarked on the journey to bring skills acquisition programme to Anambra State particularly, Anambra Central and over 80 interested men, women and youth were gathered.
“Based on our eligibility criteria, the number was reduced to 70 following our preliminary training and investigation. The number was further reduced to 58 for a total of seven different skills,” she said.
According to her, the 58 consists of 50 active trainees and eight standby trainees who have been vigorously trained in one of the skills for six weeks.
She further explained that the beneficiaries were presented with certificates and starter kits which included barbing kits, cosmetic kits, sewing machines, bakery ovens, tiling gears, commercial grinders, phone repair gears, to forge ahead into society with their newly acquired skills.
She said that AWACIO would monitor the progress of all the graduands to ensure they utilise their skills to create impact economically within and outside Anambra State.
“We foresee a shift in economic power as each trainee begins to make a difference, and is able to train others, spread the wealth, and alleviate poverty,” she added.
Okeke said that the body engages in aid, projects and programmes that are beneficial to women, adolescents and children.
Okeke said that part of its mission was to advance the hope of women, youths, adolescents to a better livelihood through educational activities, empowerment and capacity building programmes, good economic sustaining opportunities, disease prevention and more.
She said that AWACIO attains its goal by partnering with organisations, communities and individuals to conduct skill acquisition training, health workshops, acquisition and other educational events in communities.
“AWACIO has conducted a series of Empowerment activities since 2013 such as empowerment of widows with Total energies in Bwari 2013, youth with Total upstream in Kwali. 2014, empowerment programmes in Gwagwalada, Abuja, Niger State,Gombe amongst others,” she said.
Contributing, the Central Bank of Nigeria, through its representatives, a Director in the Governor’s office who spoke under anonymity, said they partnered the NGO because the programme was in line with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The Director said that the projects centred on capacity building of people, providing essential training and fostering skill acquisition, thereby empowering beneficiaries.
He said that AWACIO had collaborated with the bank for similar programmers in the past and had achieved good results that sustained the trust of the bank in partnering with the body for its good work.
Ms Chiamaka Nnake, Anamnra State Commissioner for Budget and Economic planning commended AWACIO for taking off 50 unemployed youths in the state through training and empowering them to start off in their chosen skills learned.
Nnake said that the empowerment done by AWACIO is in line with Gov. Charles Soludo of Anambra mandate to reduce and produce labour force that is productive and marketable abroad.
Mrs Chioma Ezechukwu, Deputy Director Planning in Ministry of Budget and Economic planning represented the commissioner. She urged the leader of the NGO to partner more with the state.
Chief Chido Obidiegwu, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Anambra Broadcasting Station urged the beneficiaries of the programme not to take the efforts for granted.
He advised earners of the programme to ensure they better their lives through the skills they have learnt, since they have been empowered to handle their economic needs.
Obidiegwu was represented by Mrs Judy Nwabueze, Acting Director of News and Current Affairs in the state broadcasting station.
She said that the group had acted in line with the Think Home Philosophy of Anambra Government and urged other wealthy people from the state to emulate Okeke’s footprint.
Mr Chinaecherem Igbonau, trainer on phone repairs said he trained 4 persons and was happy to see them receive a starter pack to commence immediately.
Mrs Chinyere Okeke a field worker for the team said that the people who graduated really put in a lots of interest and committed in their period of training and that it had paid off for them.
Earlier, the Traditional Ruler of Enugwu-Ukwu, Igwe Ralph Ekpeh, represented by a village Chairman, Mr Fabian Akpagu, thanked 7AWACIO for initiating the project, which according to him, would uplift the community, and urged them to sustain the tempo.