By: Wisdom Acka & Damilola Adeleke
No fewer than 189 original inhabitants in the Federal Capital Territory have been trained in traditional fabric making and 89 of them empowered with starter packs.
The starter packs, which include sewing machines and other associated materials were meant to enable the natives establish and grow their business ventures in line with preserving the cultures and promoting the rights of the peoples in the nation’s capital.
Founder, Helpline Foundation for the Needy Abuja, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, in a statement, said that the organisation was determined to protect the rights of FCT original inhabitants.
She, however, regretted that about 100 of the trained natives were yet to be empowered due to lack of funds, even as she thanked her partners and sponsors; appealing for more to be able to do more.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja during a stakeholders’ meeting for sustainability of the project: promoting the rights of original inhabitants in FCT, Ahmadu stated that the Foundation was determined to impacting the natives through women and youth empowerment, as well as preservation of their cultural heritage.
Specifically, she stated that the project has engaged and trained the Abuja natives with a view to boasting their culural identification, and reclaimed most of their cultural sites in the FCT, such as the dye pit in Ushafa, among others.
According to her, the main objective of the stakeholders engagement was to solicit support of relevant government agencies on small and medium enterprises for the natives to support them achieve self-sufficiency.
Representative of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dr. Kolawole Fasoya pledged support of her organization in partnering with the Foundation to actualize the dream of improving the rights of the natives.
Fasoya added that SMEDAN was willing to work with Helpline Foundation and identified leaders of the nine FCT original inhabitants in factoring their needs into the Agency’s different programmes.
Some of the programmes she revealed include trainings in vocational skills acquisition and conditional cash transfer, promising that beneficiaries would also be given starter packs for their respective establishment.
Another stakeholder from the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Onoka Josephine Ngozi, stated that the Director General of her organisation had directed her to attend and find out how the NDE could be of assistance to the project.
She, however, disclosed that the NDE is mainly into handling programmes for unemployed, retirees and the elderly.
Some of the programmes include agricultural practices, acquisition of skills in different trades, as well as attache programmes for graduates, where the graduates learn and possibly get employment.
Representatives of the nine indigenous tribes in their separate responses unanimously appealed that any form of assistance for the locals should pass through them, instead of the Area Council Chairmen.