How I learnt shoemaking in prison, Earn N150,000 monthly with 11 apprentices – Ex-convict
When Zakariya Mohammed was sent to the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Billiri, Gombe State, in December 2020, to serve his time, he was overwhelmed with despair.
For days, he was frustrated with life, wondering how he would spend the years of his sentence within the four walls of a prison.
However, things changed when he listened to the piece of advice from the deputy comptroller of the facility who urged him to take advantage of the skills acquisition programme.
The 26-year-old ex-convict in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Gombe on Friday, said he learned bag and shoemaking skills during his incarceration.
According to Mohammed, the price of a pair of his handmade shoes ranges between N1,000 and N3,000, while the bags go for between N700 and N2,500, depending on their size and quality.
“When I was sent to the correctional centre, I became so sad because I thought my life was finished. For some days upon my arrival, I was always thinking and frustrated about how I would spend years in the correctional facility serving my sentence.
“Until one day when Mr Christopher Jen, the then Deputy Controller in charge of the facility, approached me and encouraged me to take one of the several skill acquisition programmes of my choice.
“Thank God, I joined and I started learning shoemaking and after completing the training, I moved further to learn how to make bags. I spent two years and six months, I was released in June 2023 and opened my shoemaking shop and today I am making my own money,” he said.
Describing how he set up his business, Mohammed said he received much financial support from family members to ensure a smooth running of his trade, he now has 11 apprentices whom he trains in bag and shoe making.
“I commend the Federal Government initiative in this regard. I also want to appeal for support for ex-inmates who acquired various skills because this will ensure that they don’t go back to crimes or drug peddling; I am now too occupied to think of crime, all I think of now is how to satisfy my customers,” he added.