By Joseph Erunke
In a rare display of love and concern for the poor, Japanese Government through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects, GGP, establishes two skills centres in Abuja communities of Sabo Gida in Bwari Area Council and Durumi, near Asokoro in Abuja Municipal Area Council in a bid to empower the natives and give them a new lease of life. This is indeed, a warm handshake of love from Tokyo to Abuja, as Joseph Erunke reports.

Honourable Abike Dabiri-Ewa Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora with Mr Masaya Otsuka Deputy Head of Mission Embassy of Japanese

Durumi and Sabo-Gida, both rural communities under Bwari Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory,FCT Abuja, are few kilometres away from the city’s metropolis . The two communities to a large extent, share similar features-both are located near the highbrow areas of Abuja. While Sabo-Gida is close to Bwari Area Council metropolis where a federal government agency such as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, is located, Durumi is a few kilometres from Asokoro, one of the biggest cities in the Federal Capital Territory and a highbrow area said to be exclusively preserved for the rich, with sophisticated, state-of-the-art buildings and beautifully laid-out streets; a secured, organized and clean environment.

The quest of the two communities to have some vocational training centres for their people to learn some trades has been answered but not by Nigerian government or the Bwari Area Council that would have been responsible. Their helper is the Japanese government!

Touched by the plight of the people in these areas following the deplorable conditions they are daily faced with, the Japanese government stepped in with assistance of constructing and equipping two vocational training centres valued at over N100 million.

The two vocational training projects which were commissioned by the Japanese government through its embassy in Nigeria are expected to engage women in practical vocational training. Already, over 2,000 women in both communities have since indicated interest to acquire skills in each of the centres.

The projects were constructed and equipped by the embassy through its implementing partners, Initiative for Food, Environment and Health Society and the Tabitha Cumi Foundation.

While Initiative for Food, Environment and Health Society, IFEHS, handled the N30 million worth Sabo-Gida Vocational Training Centre Project, the Tabitha Cumi Foundation, was responsible for the N70 million Durumi Vocational Training Centre all sponsored by the people and government of Japan.

At the commissioning of the projects, the Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Nigeria, Mr Masaya Otsuka, said the projects were part of efforts by the Japanese government to support and improve the lives of people in Nigeria.

According to Otsuka the Japanese government has so far assisted many Nigerian communities with 158 grassroots projects and vocational training centres to the tune of $11 million since 1988 and will continue to render strategic support to the country under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects, GGP.
The projects, he explained, were aimed at training people in sewing skills, snacks making, professional cooking skills, craft making among other things.

He described the projects as direct socio-economic intervention aimed at providing opportunities for the poor, who he noted, were seeking for vocational training but cannot afford the cost of acquiring skills commercially and privately.

He explained that the projects were aimed at improving the lives and living conditions of the most socially and economically vulnerable people namely, women and young people.

While handing over the projects to the benefiting communities, he appealed to them to maintain the centres and the equipment properly for the greater benefits of the communities for a long time.

“Today is the beginning of the projects in your hands. I would like to ask everyone present here to maintain the centres and all the equipment properly for the greater benefits of the communities for a long time. I wish that these projects will give the comfort and vitality to the people.”

Speaking at the commissioning of the two projects in Abuja, which incidentally fall within his area of control, the Chairman of Bwari Area Council, Musa Dikko, lauded efforts of the Japanese government in alleviating the sufferings of his people through the provision of vocational training facilities.

Dikko confessed, “I am short of words to describe what the Japanese government has done for me and my people. Given the lean resources from federal allocation and in view of the many diverse challenges our local council is facing, we cannot boast of sitting these projects for the people .

“I am indeed grateful to the people and government of Japan for this laudable gesture done on us, the people of Bwari Area Council and by extension, Nigeria,”he said.

On her part, Executive Director, Tabitha Cumi Foundation, Tayo Erinle, said through the confidence reposed in the organisation by the Embassy of Japan, it had so far built three schools in three undeserved communities, namely Durumi, Jikoko and Mapa, all in Abuja for residents in need.

“In each of these communities, we have brought ‘Back to School, the’ Out of School’ children, ensured that the girls remain in school through our Tabitha Girls Club” and provided access to education for the adult learners who missed the opportunity of an early education due to poverty or early marriage. This has been achieved through our “Second Chance” programme in partnership with the FCT Agency for Mass Literacy,” she said.

According to her, women have learnt basic literacy and numeracy skills thereby making it possible for them to assist their little children with school work, do simple book keeping in their trades and farming, access health care which she said, had changed their life styles and perception, thus giving them a new lease of life.
Some of the villagers, who spoke on the development, hailed the Japanese government for its kind gesture to their communities, saying they would take advantage of the centres to change their lives.

A house wife and resident of Durumi Community, who identified herself as Martha John, said she would not waste time to enrol in vocational trade in the centre.

Mrs. John, who is dependant on her husband, a petty trader, was elated that the Japanese government had brought succour to her community.

“I don’t do anything. I have four children for my husband who sells provision. But his wares are not much. We eat and take care of the family from the little gain he makes from the business. I had wanted to have handwork so as to assist the family financially but the means has not been there. But with this now, I can go and learn handwork after which I will be using to assist the family in my own little way, “she said.

Matthew Agriga, a father of six, told Vanguard in Sabo-Gida that his wife and two grown daughters, who had nothing doing apart from engaging in subsistent farming, would be made to enrol at the Sabo-Gida Vocational Training Centre.

“My wife has no handwork. Even my two grown up daughters after passing out from primary school, are at home. Apart from helping us in the farm, , they have no other thing. I was thinking of taking them to learn trade when this opportunity came. With this now at our doorstep, I won’t hesitate to let them go there for learning of various skills, “he said.

Also in Durumi, Daniel Joshua Atnadu, the Chairman of Akummibodo Indigenous Youth Association, was full of praises for the Japanese Government for identifying with the plight of the people by not only constructing the project but also equipping and handing it over to the community for its use.

But like the famous Oliver Twist, Mr Atnadu said the joy of the Durumi Community would not be complete as other social amenities such as electricity, good road, standard hospital and secondary school among others were needed in the community.

To this end, he tasked the Bwari Area Council, elected representatives of the area as well as other well meaning individuals to rise to the occasion.

The highlight of the commissioning of the two vocational training projects was the decoration of Mr Otsuka in the host community, the Gbagyi’s traditional attire as well as presentation of Gbagyi traditional farm implement to him, as symbols of appreciation.

Durumi and Sabo-Gida are not the only beneficiaries of Japanese government’s gesture in the country. In fact, the Japanese government has been cooperating with Nigerian to develop the latter’s different sectors including infrastructure (power supply, transportation, etc), urban environment (waste management, water resources, etc), achievements of inclusive growth, peace building and tackling terrorism through Official Development Assistance, ODA to Nigeria projects (Loan, Grant, Technical Assistance and Grant assistance for grassroots human security projects).
The GGP is a Japanese assistance scheme, well known for its swift and pro-poor approaches in Nigeria. Its aim is to meet the diverse needs and bring a direct impact on the wellbeing of grassroots communities.

It provides financial assistance to non-profits organisations to implement development projects at the grassroots level.

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