Covenant to Rally Tertiary Institutions’ Support for Onesimus Project
In a bid to further encourage prison inmates to embrace education so that they can become useful to themselves and the society when they are freed, the Vice-Chancellor of Covenant University, Professor AAA. Atayero, has pledged to make the University’s free online courses accessible to the Nigerian Prisons Service, Lagos Command.
Professor Atayero made the promise during his visit to the Medium Security Prison, Female Prison and the Maximum Security Prison, Kirikiri, Apapa, Lagos, on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, as part of the ‘Life Recovery Pre-Release Empowerment Programme’ under the umbrella of the Onesimus Project.
According to the Vice-Chancellor, at the maturity of the University’s free online courses, it would become a model for teaching and scaling up knowledge sharing to the inmates of Lagos prisons. He posited that with the active partnership of governments at various levels, the successes of the free online courses would enable its deployment to other prisons across the country.
Addressing the graduands of the Onesimus Project, Professor Atayero said that the assurance needed at this point was for the graduands to succeed in their affairs when they leave the confines of the prison environment, as that would strengthen the University’s determination to continue with the Onesimus Project initiative.
The Vice-Chancellor promised to take the message of a reformatory-correctional system, as being preached by Covenant University in active partnership with the Nigerian Prisons Services and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), to the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) at the next meeting of the association.
The Controller General of Prisons, Mr. Ja’afaru Ahmed, represented by the Assistant Controller of Prisons, Lagos State, ACP B. Ogundana, appreciated Covenant University for helping the Prisons Service in the execution of the ‘Three Rs’ of the correctional system: Reformation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of inmates.
Soliciting the assistance of Covenant University, the Controller General said that the University could become a vehicle through which other tertiary institutions would buy into the good work that Onesimus Project is doing at the Lagos Command. The initiative, he added, would then be extended to other states of the federation, with the aim of reshaping the destinies of inmates by becoming better citizens when they serve out their time in the penitentiary.
Earlier on, the Executive Director of the Life Recovery Pre-Release Empowerment Programme, Barrister Benson Iwuagwu, while giving an overview of the project, said that the Onesimus Project is a call to collective social action in response to a failing penal system of the prisons service and criminal justice system.
Barrister Iwuagwu said that the project is also geared at serving as a mentorship programme platform for all enrollees, who would be made to see their counsellors and facilitators as their alter ego, towards becoming the better person God created them to be. He stated that the programme will empower enrollees so that when they regain their freedom, they will contribute their quota to national development.
The event also witnessed a praise and worship session by the inmates, a guided tour to the craft centre where they are taught soap, cream and beads making, tailoring etc.