Abdullahi Abare, a former inmate at the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Billiri, Gombe State Command, said he had empowered no fewer than 134 youths in Kumo, Akko Local Government Area of Gombe State.
Abare told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Kumo on Monday, he had been training youths on designing and knitting cloths since his release from the correctional facility in 2019.
He stated that the best thing that happened to him was acquiring skills at the correctional centre, which he said had made him influential to youths in his community.
He said he knew nothing about tailoring, designing and knitting of clothes until he was sent to the correctional facility where he learnt the skills in four months before his release.
He said some of the youth he had trained were now useful to the society, “many of them now have shops and are making meaningful contributions to their lives and families.
“Two of my trainees are at the University of Maiduguri and are using the skills I taught them to sponsor themselves in the school.
“I used my money to buy materials and trained them free of charge because I learnt it without paying.
“I am so happy today; in fact I can say that going to the correctional facility was a blessing in disguise.”
Abare stressed that skills acquisition, if enhanced and strengthened, would make inmates huge assets to the society.
On how he was sent to correctional facility, the 43-year-old father of two said he was sent to the facility after a person he stood in for as surety for bail someone at the Area Court two in Kumo escaped.
“So I was sent to the correctional facility since I couldn’t produce the person. I went to the centre without committing a crime and I have never committed a crime in my life,” he said.
He explained that while at the centre, he met Mr Christopher Jen, the deputy comptroller in charge of the centre who introduced him to skills acquisition and encouraged him to enroll.
Abare said he was sentenced to one year but spent four months because his brother found the escapee in Port Harcourt and forced him to come back to Kumo, hence he was released on April 16, 2019.
Abare stated that last year, he saved over N177, 000 after feeding and other expenditures and “I have two orphans I am taking care of too because I learnt skills.”
He appealed to the state government and well meaning Nigerians to complement his efforts in training more youths to enable them acquire skills and jettison drugs and other vices.
“Government should build functional skills acquisition centre in Kumo to help discourage youths from joining cult groups and taking to drugs. I am also willing to offer free training if provided materials,” he said.