By Ikeugonna Eleke
A former Awka Correctional Centre inmate, in Anambra State, Livinus Ugwu, has earned a degree in peace and conflict resolution of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
Ugwu was discharged from the centre in 2018 after serving a 21-year-jail term, but began a degree programme in Peace Studies while serving his term.
The former inmate received the certificate from NOUN on Wednesday at the correctional centre where he showed visible excitement, attributing his success to commitment and dedication.
He appreciated the authorities of the Correctional Service and NOUN for the opportunity given to him to advance his education.
He urged people in such circumstances not to allow their condition to constitute a barrier to their progress in life, stating that such setbacks should be seen as a stopgap.
‘The world gathered today because of a one-time inmate like me. I learnt so many things while in prison, including tailoring and laundry because I brought myself low.
‘I thank officers of the Correctional Service and the Open University for the opportunity. They were so passionate and they took us like their own children. I started from Warri before I was moved to Onitsha where I embraced adult education. Don’t allow the four corners of prison to weigh you down. See here as stepping stone to greater heights,’ the former inmate stated.
Presenting the certificate on behalf of the university, the Director, NOUN, Awka Study Centre, Prof. Scholastica Ezeribe, said the programme was targeted at imparting lives, including providing education to the inmates.
The director said, ‘The programme is a clear demonstration of the importance the institution (NOUN) attached to inmates’ education. We believe in rehabilitation through education, no one is a write off.’
The Controller, Anambra State Command, Nigerian Correctional Service, Pat Chukwuemeka, said the scheme, which he described as his brainchild, was initiated for the educational development and skill empowerment of inmates.