President Buhari will sign Peace Corps Bill soon to tackle unemployment – Commandant, Akoh
The National Commandant of the Nigerian Peace Corps, Dr Dickson Akoh, on Thursday, expressed optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari would do justice to the newly passed NPC Bill by the National Assembly by assenting it, for prompt implementation.
“The greatest challenge in this country today is unemployment. So, I am optimism that the President would do justice to the bill”, Akoh said.
Akoh, who was addressing the joint Press Corps of both Chambers of the National Assembly, following the consolidation of the NPC Bill by the Conference Committee, said ” the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill is now ripe and ready to be transmitted to Mr President for his assent”.
The Peace Corps boss also stressed that the harmonised Bill has finally put to rest all the needless controversies bordering on which organisation’s bill was passed by the National Assembly, adding that the clause which suggested the sister formation, National Unity and Peace Corps was outrightly rejected.
Akoh, however, dismissed insinuations in some quarters that the new agency is a duplication of other para-military agencies; saying “no uniformed body today in Nigeria does the jobs we are meant to do.”
The Commandant also made clarifications on the N40,000 payment for the recruitment exercise, adding that the funds were meant for training and kits for the recruits.
“We are not coercing anybody into Peace Corps. They are well-informed about the payment. But once the bill is signed into law and it takes effect nobody would ask for payment,” Akoh said.
The National Commandant therefore, expressed appreciation, on behalf of the Corps and the Nigerian youths, to the entire members of the National Assembly, “for their sense of patriotism, high sense of justice and the confidence reposed on this organization.”
It could be recalled that both chambers of the National Assembly laid the report of the conference committee on the consolidated Bill on Thursday, for adoption and onward submission for Buhari’s assent.
DAILY POST recalls that the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill was passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday, 23rd June, 2016 while the Senate also passed same on Thursday, 24th November, 2016.
The 2 chambers of the National Assembly, thereafter, set up a conference committee to reconcile areas of differences in the passed Bill.
The committee observed differences in 12 clauses of the Bill and consequently harmonized same.
Principal among the harmonized clauses is the expunction of the clauses that bear the Nigerian Unity and Peace Corps.
According to the report, the House of Representatives ” outrightly rejected,” the inclusion of the National Unity and Peace Corps Bill, on the ground that it didn’t pass through the House, but was only submitted at the Senate.
The conference committee, however, adopted Clause 37(g) with the amendment that, “groups, associations and organizations that have similar objectives and have shown or demonstrated interest to be absorbed as members of the Nigerian Peace Corp shall be absorbed, subject to the mandatory Initial Training/Orientation Program, as prescribed from time to time, upon the commencement of this Act”.
Contrary to the belief that the Peace Corps would be domiciled in the Ministry of Interior, the consolidated Bill has placed the Corps under the Federal Ministry of Youth Development; the statutory ministry responsible for overseeing youths matters.
The committee also retains the age limit of individuals who show interest to be enlisted as members of the Nigerian Peace Corps to be between 18 and 35 years, “upon the commencement of its Act.”
The harmonized version of the Bill also recognises the ‘National Commandant’ as the head of the Corps.
The core mandate of the Nigerian Peace Corps as contained in the consolidated Bill, is to empower, develop and provide gainful employment for youths, to facilitate Peace, volunterism, community services, Neighborhood watch and nation-building.