The Nigeria Prison Service (NPS) has called on federal and state government agencies to help promote entrepreneurial activities of inmates through its Prisons Industry Programme.
The Controller of Prisons in Enugu, Mr Ndubuisi Ogbodo, made the call at the inauguration of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinic (MSME) by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo held on Tuesday at the Okpara Square, Enugu.
Ogbodo said the Nigeria Prisons Industry programme was part of the reformation objective of the Nigeria prisons.
“Nigeria Prisons is saddled with the responsibility of reforming, rehabilitating and reintegrating prisoners back into the society.
“So, once a prisoner is admitted, we subject him/her to 30 days psychological study in order to know more about the prisoner in terms of behaviour, desire and thinking.
“When this study is completed, we then make informed decisions as to whether the prisoner would perform better under our National Open University degree programme or our entrepreneurial/industry programme.
“This industrial programme is necessary because not all of them have the capacity to go through the academic rigours and so, they prefer to engage in choice handiworks.
“Therefore, we had to create the industry programme to cater for non-educational lovers as a way of reforming, rehabilitating and re-integrating them fully into the society.
“We teach them skills like shoe making, furniture, farming, tailoring and iron works to mention a few and that is why we brought some of them here to display their wares,” he said.
NPS chief however, lamented that lack of funds and tutors was hindering the expansion of the scope of the industry programme.
One of the major reasons for partaking in the SME clinic was to talk to certain federal government agencies such as Small and Medium Entreprises Development Agencies and Bank of Industry on how they could help the prisoners expand their handiworks and promote them.
In addition, Ogbodo said with the combined effort of the Controller General of Nigerian Prisons and the Minister of Interior, some tools would be provided for prisoners free.
Mr Kelvin Enuoka, the Commander in charge of the Nigeria Prisons Industry programme, said the output of the programme had been very encouraging and impacting.
Enuoka said about 50 prisoners were currently involved in the programme of the service.
“We have different workshops where we train prisoners on their skill of choice ranging from tailoring, shoe-making, furniture, farming, iron works and bag making.
“I was sent abroad by NPS for training in order to also impart these skills to interested prisoners as a way of rehabilitating and reintegrating them completely into the society.
“So many people are amazed that such shoes, uniforms and other things as exhibited here are the handiwork of prisoners such that an aide bought one without knowing it was one of the prisoners that made it,” he said.
A prisoner under the Industry Programme, Chimezie Okemefuna, said he learnt shoe making through the programme.
Okemefuna expressed delight that an aide to the vice president bought one of his products, adding that it gave him hope that shoe making was his calling.
“The man had already bought the shoe before he knew that I was the one that made it which makes me proud and I will tell others what happened when I get back to prison,” Okemefuna said.
Some of the items displayed at the exhibition include leather shoes and bags, NPS uniforms for staff and inmates as well as farm produce like eggs and yams.