By Peter Uwumarogie
The Medium Security Custodial Centre, Billiri, Gombe State Command, has empowered 339 inmates, with various vocational skills at the centre, in the past three years.
Mr Christopher Jen, Deputy Controller of the centre, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Friday, at Billiri, headquarters of Billiri Local Government Area.
Jen said from 2018 to date, 339 inmates were trained on skills acquisition and 106 in on literacy, post literacy and extra mural classes.
According to him, 94 of the inmates trained on vocational skills had been discharged, 124 graduated, while 121 are currently undergoing training.
He said that the inmates were allowed to pick vocations of interest to them, as “this is a way of ensuring that no one is forced to do what he does not want to do.
“Once you pick your vocation, learning is easy because one will be self-motivated,” he said.
Jen stated that the essence of the training was to reform the minds, as well as empower inmates, in line with the mandate of the correctional service on reformation, rehabilitation and re-integration of inmates.
“We had to emphasise on vocational training, because the crime rate is somehow associated with lack of jobs.
“Inmates here are largely within the ages of 18 and 23 years. They are supposed to be productive. If there are no jobs for them, the society will not know peace, when they leave this facility.
“If we don’t help them with this vocational training, as a means of livelihood, there will be increase in crime. The major solution to reducing crime rate is providing employment.
“Government alone cannot do it; so the service deemed it fit to correct, as well as give them empowerment through the different skills programmes they can rely on,” he said.
Jen stated that the inmates were being trained on knitting and design, laundry, aluminium pot making, building, barbing, carpentry, bag making, hand fan weaving, tailoring, cap making, cosmetology, tie and dye and literacy.
While stating that the major challenge was getting funding to purchase materials for the training of the inmates, Jen appealed to the Gombe state government to support the programme by assisting trained inmates with starter packs.
The deputy controller advised youths in the state to shun crimes and engage in productive ventures, through the acquisition of vocational skills, so as to impact on the society.
He further advised youths to shun drug abuse of any form, saying, “please let’s be creative positively and individually to contribute to our country’s development which can only happen when youths acquire skills.’’ (NAN)