By Rukayya Idris
A selection of 120 young persons have, on Tuesday, Sep. 20, been trained and given economic support by the USAID-Northeast Connection to enable them build resilience against radical and violent extremism in their communities.
The training and empowerment programme was carried out by an International NGO, USAID-Northeast Connection.
The idea behind the programme, according to the USAID-Northeast Connection, is to provide a preventative and holistic approach to addressing the causes of violent conflict in the northeast region through building of community resilience.
The selected 120 were on Monday and Tuesday led through a workshop session where they were trained on various agriculture and business development skills to enable them to start their small-scale farming businesses, in order to build their resilience.
Officials at the USAID/Northeast Connection said the young persons were being given empowerment in line with the programme objective of ‘supporting inter-community action on agricultural livelihood and peacebuilding for vulnerable youth’ in Biu town.
Specialised facilitators had, during the programme, drilled the trainees on modern techniques in irrigation farming and peacebuilding methods.
One of the participants at the training workshop, Fatima Sulaiman, said: “after the two days of intensive training by USAID Northeast Connection, I now more interest in modern irrigation farming; and I am very eager to start up my farming so that I can be able to support my education and family.”
The young lady said with the knowledge gained during the workshop she has plans of down stepping the skills “to the people in my neighbourhood so that they can have something to do during the dry season because most of them farm only during the rainy season.”
Aminu Isma’il, a small-scale subsistence irrigation farmer said the new knowledge gained and the free working implements would enhance his economic life.
“I have learned a lot of knowledge on the modern system of irrigation farming and how to expand my business.
“I used to hire the water pump at an exorbitant price which I sometimes can’t afford to pay until after harvest; but now that I have my water pump, it will reduce my financial expenses and also I will be able to water my farm properly and at any time”.
A local commercial vegetable farmer, Abdullahi Abubakar, said before now that many young persons from their community used to become jobless after the rainy season because they have no alternative means or knowledge of continuing their farming activities during the dry seasons.
“As a vegetable seller, I will use the items to establish a farm during the dry season to grow my business, I cannot thank the people from Northeast Connection ion ionionionionion for this life-saving initiative.
Ruth Bulus, a widowed mother, said since she lost her husband during the insurgency, she had no major support to do business.
“Until recently when someone said my name has been listed for an empowerment programme, I never believed poor persons like me could be invited for this kind of programme,” she said.
“The ease with which I got access to this training shows that it was meant to support people l e me because I never expected it would turn out to be something as huge as this”.
The Borno State USAID-Northeast Connection Program Manager, Mustapha Shettima said “the program aims to strengthen the resilience of communities vulnerable to violent extremist infiltration, and to develop local capacities of people to respond to emerging threats”.
Mr Shettima said the programme w designed to target young persons from Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe statutes would be empowered “through the implementation activities on supporting inter-community action on inter-community livelihood and peacebuilding for vulnerable communities not yet under the control of violent extremist organizations (VEOs)”.
The programme manager added that “the program has been delivering interventions through local and international partners on periodic research, outreach campaign against violent extremists’ misinformation, supporting existing and new response platform, capacity building for women and engaging IDPs in inter-community exchanges inter-community ties of USAID-Northeast Connection across Biu, Jere, Hawul, Kwaya Kusar and Shani LGAs of Borno State”.
A representative of the Chairman Biu Local Government Area, Mohammed Inuwa, thanked USAID-Northeast Connection for giving an entrepreneurial lifeline to the youths of Biu local government.
“This gesture by Northeast Connection on training and equipping youth in Biu Town with irrigation farming techniques is laudable because its long-term benefit cannot be over-emphasized”.
The chairman called on the beneficiaries “overemphasized the items for the purpose intended”.
In his speech, the CAN Secretary Biu Local Government Area, Pastor Anjili Umoru Ndahi, said “This is the type of intervention every local community could ever ask for because it’s an opportunity given to the youths and people of Biu town to fight poverty through farming”.
On his part, the Chief Imam Biu Emirate Council, Alhaji Nuruddeen Umaru Isa, thanked the organizers of the program for the well-articulated program. He said “Considering the current situation of the region, the intervention comes at the right time” he added that “We would make sure that the beneficiaries make proper use of the items for the betterment of the society”.
The Chairlady, Biu Women Development Council Aisha Mohammed, said “We appreciate Northeast Connection for including the women in the training, and we urge the women to introduce the modern irrigation farming system to their children for livelihood sustainability and development in Biu Town.”
The USAID-Northeast Connection is a USAID-supported INGO that leverages on solutions-based approach by using a range of activities to address and prevent social conflicts in some of Nigeria’s most vulnerable communities.
The INGO is concerned about “residents in Nigeria’s northeastern states facing a host of challenges – from poverty to violent extremist organizations like Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa – that continuously block their path to peace, inclusion and economic prosperity.”