A multipurpose skills training center was handed over to the Government of Sierra Leone yesterday to build the capacity of youths for middle level man power development in Waterloo and its environs.
Chief Godson O. Echegile, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, officially sealed the deal at a well-attended ceremony.
The multipurpose Olusegun Obasanjo Skills Acquisition Center was funded by the Nigerian Government to assist the Republic of Sierra Leone in its post conflict reconstruction and development efforts, in what was popularly known as the Lusaka Agreement – a tripartite agreement between Nigeria, Libya, and South Africa (NILISA) during the last defunct OAU summit which was held in Zambia.
Mr Echegile said the three countries pledged to assist the Government of Sierra Leone with a sum of 10 million US Dollars each, and the Nigerian Government agreed to support youth empowerment and the judiciary with the funds that automatically led to the construction of the skills acquisition center.
The center consists of 4 blocks of 2-bedroom, semidetached flats for the centers’ staff members with 24 hours of electricity and other social facilities.
Other facilities at the center include 3 blocks consisting of six (6) workshops, a block for Information Technology (ICT), a multipurpose conference center and one borehole. Two overhead tanks with capacities of 5000 liters each, two generators of 500 KVA and 250 KVA and a constructed fuel dumpsite with a capacity of 8000 gallons and 4 vehicles to ease the transportation constraints of staff and students of the center are also included.
The skills training center will provide training for youths in various capacity building disciplines, which include: Tailoring, Food Processing, Carpentry, Bricklaying and Masonry, Plumbing, Hairdressing and Cosmetology, Information and Computer Technology (ICT), with a complete rice milling plant with accessories. Welding and Electrical Technology will be taught in theory and practice to enable the trainees to contribute meaningfully to the development of the country, Mr Echegile noted.
The High Commissioner also summarized some of the assistance the Nigerian Government has rendered to Sierra Leone during and after the war in consolidating peace in the country, which included capacity building in the judiciary with 15 vehicles for the judges, and a payment of 4 million US Dollars to the Government of Sierra Leone Swiss Bank Account in 2005.
Concluding the ceremony, Mr Echegile on behalf of the Federal Government and people of Nigeria handed over the Olusegun Obasanjo Skills Acquisition Center with its content to the Government and People of Sierra Leone and urged them to properly utilize the facilities for its sustenance to prepare the future generation of Sierra Leoneans who are determined to develop the country rapidly.
After a brief inspection of the multipurpose skills acquisition center, the Sierra Leone Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Zainab Hawa Bangura, responded by expressing thanks and appreciation to the Federal Government of Nigeria for their continuous support to the people of Sierra Leone in consolidating the hard won peace and also for empowering youths through capacity building.
Ms Bangura spoke about the relations with the Federal Republic of Nigeria that dates back to centuries of Nigerian Cooperation and assistance to the Republic of Sierra Leone in all areas of human endeavor in peace keeping operations, education, health, trade and agriculture, to mention a few.
She maintained that Sierra Leone will never forget the financial, human and other sacrifices the Federal Republic of Nigeria made for fighting and dying to bring peace to Sierra Leoneans that encouraged other partners to join in the peace process which will forever remain in the annals of the history of Sierra Leone.
The Minister added that Sierra Leone enjoys excellent bilateral cooperation with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, characterized by a joint commission and Technical Aid Corp Scheme that involves the provision of medical personnel and lecturers, as well as the training of Sierra Leoneans in diverse fields in both countries.
She also said that the skills acquisition center and its activities will contribute to the vocational training of the youths and young adults in the country, which is a mile stone in strengthening Sierra Leone’s economic base and assured the Nigerian High Commissioner that the Government of Sierra Leone will collaborate with the direct beneficiaries to ensure that the valuable gift is properly maintained and effectively utilized.
Alhaji M.M. Bambale, a Minister at the Nigerian High Commission, also delivered a statement at the official handing over ceremony in Waterloo. By Saidu Bah