Saturday, 21 January 2017

[NG]Buhari yet to receive Peace Corps Bill – Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to receive a clean copy of the Nigeria Peace Corps bill recently passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.

While the House of Representatives passed the bill on June 8, 2016, the Senate passed its own version on November 24, five months later.

The passed bill gives approval for the establishment of the Nigeria Peace Corps as an agency under the Ministry of Interior.

Both chambers expressed the view that the establishment of the Corps will benefit Nigeria and create employment for the nation’s teeming unemployed youth.

Following the passage of the Bills, the Corps reportedly went on employment spree across the country.

Some Nigerians who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on the matter expressed divergent views, with some hailing the initiative and others saying the nation does not need an additional para military outfit.

However, the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, told PREMIUM TIMES that the bill has yet to be sent to the president for his assent because of differences in the two bills passed by the House and the Senate.

“Because of the differences in the bills, a joint conference committee was raised and the Senate adopted the report of the committee just yesterday, the House is yet to adopt,” he said.
Mr. Enang said until the House also adopts the report of the Joint Conference Committee, the status of the bill still remains “a National Assembly process”.

Mixed Reactions

For Awwal Rafsanjani, an activist and Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, said what the country needs now is to “strengthen existing legislative framework” and address the short comings of current para military agencies without having to establish fresh one.

He said the government should have called for a meeting of all relevant bodies and individuals to review prevailing set up. He expressed doubt on the capacity of Nigeria to adequately fund the new corps.

“We don’t need to create a new agency that we may not be able to fund adequately. For me, what they are doing is simply creating avenues for a few people to divert public funds,” he said.

However, Benson Olugbuo, the Executive Director of Cleen Foundation, thinks that Nigeria still needs more paramilitary agency because what is on the ground now may not be adequate.

He also said creating the National Peace Corps now will provide employment opportunities for young Nigerians and “also foster unity and add value to existing realities”.

“Agreed for everything, there is the advantage and disadvantage, but in this instance the advantage overcome the disadvantages,” he said.

He also because of the large size of the country’s population, the number of Police, Military and other paramilitary agencies “appear overwhelmed”.

“Can the Police we have now adequately police the country? The answer is no,” he said.

Lawyer and activist, Inibehe Effiong, also express his support for the establishment of the Corps, even as he said, the “Peace Corps is surely a duplication of role with existing paramilitary agencies”.

“I believe the purpose of creating the Corps is not as much because of inadequacy of security outfits but simply a means of creating employment for Nigerians,” he said.

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