Following a one-month intensive practical training on entrepreneurship, Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum on Friday presented N100m to 152 reformed youths who were prominent members of a violent political thuggery group code-named ‘ECOMOG’ in Maiduguri.
Zulum made the presentation at the Ramat Polytechnic in Maiduguri, venue of the one month training.
The 152 youths had renounced thuggery in response to Governor Zulum’s ban announced at the end of 2019. Following that announcement, the Governor in August 2019, directed the enrollment of 2,762 youths into a ‘waste for cash’ sanitation programme in which the youths cleaned the drainages to earn monthly stipends.
Satisfied with the improving conducts of the youths, the governor directed the selection of leaders and most prominent among them. 152 persons were then selected and made to under-go a one-month training in business enterprises, fishery, animal rearing and animal fattening.
The training was coordinated by the Directorate of Entrepreneurship at the Ramat Polytechnic, where Professor Zulum was an Engineering Diploma student from 1986 to 1988, and Rector from 2011 to 2015.
Declaring the training closed on Friday, Governor Zulum said 16 prominent leaders of the repentant political thugs will each receive N2m amounting to N32m, while the remaining 136 persons will each receive N500,000, amounting to N68m.
The governor said the government’s support is under the condition that none of them ever returned to political thuggery, while they are also required to repay half of what they receive, with the State Government is waving 50%.
Commissioner for Sports and Youths Empowerment, Saina Buba, described the programme as a bold effort by Zulum to stamp out violent political thuggery, especially from Maiduguri, which, between 2002 and 2008 had reached the extent of rival killings.
As part of strategy to prevent children from towing the paths of their parents, Governor Babagana Zulum announced that the State Government will shoulder the education of 152 children, one each to be nominated by the 152 repentant political thugs.
Zulum charged the youths that it was in their best interest to accord dignity to themselves by being self reliant rather return to thuggery.
He reminded them to never allow themselves to be used because those who use them do not allow their children to become thugs.
Leaders of the youths, speaking in Hausa and Kanuri, said Zulum had proved his genuine love for them by not only setting them up for businesses, but also promising to educate their children.
“There is no better way for Zulum to prove that he genuinely means well for us. By the grace of God, we will not allow anyone to even look at us as thugs because our appearances alone will indicate that we are changed persons” one of the leaders said.