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LeAP To Boost Abiriba Economy With Skills Acquisition Centre




A GROUP of professionals from Abiriba in Abia State, known as the League of Abiriba Professionals (LeAP), is set to boost their community through the establishment of a N60 million skills acquisition centre as part of its ongoing strategic plan to reinvent the town and return it to the pinnacle of its past entrepreneurial glory.

Such efforts, in the past, had seen the group offer scholarships and organise seminars and workshops for natives, both at home and outside it, as members set out to champion the development of the town through educational and economic emancipation of natives. Speaking on the motive for the project, President of LeAP, Chidi Anya recalled that, “it is important to have vehicles that would support one another, in order to achieve what we need in our community.”

According to him, the group discovered that a lot of Abiriba people living in Lagos didn’t know one another, and at the time they started, “there was a lot of decay in Abiriba in the sense that schools had fallen apart, infrastructure and indeed the things that held us together seemed to be at risk.”

To remedy the situation, “we decided to start meeting formally to discuss these things and then proffer solutions. One of the major things we have achieved is that when LeAP started supporting courses in Abiriba, child pregnancy went down considerably and petty thievery reduced.

“Also, through the intervention of LeAP, we were able to get the Federal Government to restore electricity supply, because the cables had been stolen. This was one of the ways we were able to restore life to our community.”

Though efforts to correct the situation had not been easy, Anya said that LeAp has been making steady progress since inception in empowering the youths. He noted: “What we did was to establish LeAP ETC (Education Trust Council), which comprised distinguished Abiriba people who had excelled as professors and school principals, among others.

“We brought together these people, who had made a career of adding value to people, and then set up a trust fund. Part of what this trust fund did was to ensure that we restored our educational system. We also built a (science) laboratory with the support of First Bank.”

Top among current projects we are working on is the skills acquisition centre, “which would cost close to N60 million, and as a private sector-driven organisation, we hope that our friends and well-wishers support this. For me, this is something important because a skills acquisition centre will empower young people and create entrepreneurs.

“When they can earn a living, they are more useful to the community and also there is a sense of self-worth. They would not have to queue in front of someone’s house waiting to get handouts. It is important we go back to what Abiriba had always been – a society driven by excellence – where everybody could provide for his/herself. But above all, where we are our brother’s keepers.”

He disclosed that carpentry, mechanic, blacksmith, tailoring, plumbing and more – basically, those handy trades that are essential for your day-to-day existence – would be on offer at the centre, adding: “The idea is that we want to empower our community so that when something happens or you are vacationing in Abiriba, you would not have to wait till you get back to Lagos to fix it.

“Some of us who built our houses discovered that good handymen were not in Abiriba. People who did a particular type of tiling were not available, so people brought workers from far places. So, the idea is to empower a lot more people to be able to do the necessary things. Ultimately, someone who has a skill gets paid for it and is more useful to the community.”

If LeAp gets all the funding in place, he believes, everything can be done within 24 months. “The primary thing is to get funding. We are talking to a number of our committed cooperate sponsors. So, if we can get 10 of them to make substantial commitment, I think we would be up and running. For me, it is the most passionate thing I need to do and when I became president, it was an initiative I adapted in wanting to give back during my tenure.”

He is constantly looking for initiatives that would develop the community – better roads and other infrastructure. “We have a hospital that is not functioning and it would also have to come to life because health is essential.”

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