Saturday, 3 March 2018

Please Sign The Bill Into Law...Peace Corps Commanders Beg Buhari

Council of Commandants and Board of Trustees of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) on Friday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to “reevaluate and reconsider his decision to withhold his assent” to the Peace Corps Bill.

The President had on Tuesday, transmitted to the National Assembly that he was withholding assent on the Nigerian Peace Corps Establishment Bill for lack of funds and duplication of duties of existing security agencies.

But at a press briefing in Abuja Friday, the leadership of the Corps said there was no security agency in Nigeria that was currently undertaking the functions ascribed to Peace Corps in the said Bill.

“The functions of the Nigerian Peace Corps as succinctly captured in the Bill do not in any way conflict with that of the functions of any existing security agencies but is absolutely civil, which is to observe as an arbiter of peace, youth volunteerism, maintaining and sustaining a level of proactiveness and courier of information for impending nefarious activities and plots that can lead to the breakdown of peace and order anywhere in Nigeria”, National Commandant, Amb (Dr.) Dickson Akoh said.

Akoh believed that, there was never a time in the history of Nigeria that the need for peace has become fiercely urgent like now, saying, “the President may have been misled into taking this decision”.

He said, “the role of the Peace Corps is clearly distinct from that of conventional security and paramilitary organisations, hence its placement under the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youths Development. The powers conferred on the Nigerian Peace Corps in the Bill do not also involve arms bearing, investigation, detention and prosecution”.

Akoh said “similar organisations like the Nigerian Peace Corps exist in several other countries of the world including the American Peace Corps, Canadian Peace Corps, Bangladesh National Cadet Corps, Peace Officers Commission in China, Chinese Labour Corps, Lera Uniform Corps of Malaysia, Malaysian People Volunteer Corps, Production and Construction Corps of China.”

On the excuse of paucity of funds, Akoh said the source of funds for NPC as enshrined in the Bill did not solely place the burden on the federal government, as international donor agencies were also encapsulated to give grants and donations to the Corps.

He believed that “peace has never been costlier than crisis and the price for peace is inestimable. One of the principal objectives of the Peace Corps is deployment to schools and colleges to promote peace, sniff and sieve intelligence. This could have prevented the recent abduction of our girls at the Girls Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe state”.

Akoh lamented that, “a Bill which was widely supported with over 500 memoranda, including government agencies, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, student bodies and others; could just be jettisoned by advice from a few security agencies who opposed to the establishment of the Corps from the beginning.”

Despite the President’s decision, the Peace Corps said it would “continue to have esteem confidence on Mr. President’s leadership of this great country”, even as it acknowledged the support of the members of the National Assembly and countless groups as the journey continues.

Meanwhile, the Senator representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly, Senator Shehu Sani, took to his twitter on Friday, to urge President Buhari to rescind his decision on the Peace Corps Bill.

The APC Senator said, “The President should rescind his decision. He should sign the Peace Corps Bill. The organisation should be assigned to protect schools against gunmen and kidnappers”.

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