The Peace Corp is an organisation founded in America by an elite group of formidable youths to foster peace building and promote cooperation through Conflict resolution within the society and was later recognised by the Government of the United States during the time of President Kennedy, who assented to it’s establishment bill.
In 1994, Dickson Akoh, brought the Peace Corp to Nigeria, and after several organisation name decided to settle for the name- The Peace Corps of Nigeria and registered it as a Non Governmental Organisation in 1998 with its activities cutting across capacity building, youth development, empowerment, peace building and conflict resolutions.
Since then, the organisation had been buried in numerous upheavals and crisis ranging from clashes with the Nigerian police, the military and the Department of State Services. They’ve battled scornful remarks and suggestions from numerous Government MDA’s advising the legislature not to think of legalising it. Civil and criminal actions have also been instituted and lashed against them by the Attorney General’s office.
The irony of it all is that Nigerian youths view The Nigerian Peace Corps as an opportunity for gainful employment and have thrown an assize weight of support behind them. And not just that, the organisation further has a massive support from the National Assembly. This support had birthed the Peace Corps of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill which was put forward to the presidency for assent pursuant to sections 12(2)(3) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
In response to the assent,
President Muhammadu Buhari rejected the proposed Peace Corps of Nigeria (establishment) bill through a letter addressed to the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives and which was advertently read on the floor during Tuesday’s plenary.
President Buhari cited security concerns and financial burden of funding the organisation by the government as his reasons for rejecting and refusing to assent to the bill.
He Admitted that given the “scarce government resources”, funding the organisation will be a financial burden on the federal government.
Despite all of this, as I have earlier mentioned, The Peace Corps of Nigeria has been involved in various controversies since the bill came to limelight at the green chambers. There are pending actions against the PCN and its leadership in court as well as clashes between the organisation and Nigeria police force which led to the forceful seizing and cordoning of the organisation’s premises in Abuja.
While all these is going on within the polity of the country, Nigerians are really curious, Is financial barriers as well as other security concerns the only reasons for the refusal of Presidential assent or there’s more to it?
Its no longer news that the Nigerian Police Force have taken establishment of new security agencies by the government as great competition and rivalry. The establishment of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) witnessed similar chaotic atmosphere before its official establishment and recognition by law.
In essence, it would be safe to conclude that presidency took side with the internal security ‘big boys’ despite their lackadaisical attitude to work, corruption, and very terrible scandals of SARS that surrounded them. The question is- “why are they scared?”.
Objectively, it is understandable that the presidency rejected the establishment bill. This is because the PCN lack a very definite scope of purpose. Is it a peace building and conflict resolution based organisation, or it’s an organisation with the main objective of empowering youths and building capacity or it is just another paramilitary security outfit just like Man O’ War and the Royal Cadet? Until a definite scope of function is achieved and attributable to the PCN, the refusal of the presidency to give assent is understandable.
Coupled with the above mentioned rationales for refusal of presidential assent are a gazillion more. They include;
-An unanswered allegation for money laundering and other crimes to the tune of 1.4 billion Naira leveled against the PCN by the attorney general’s office.
-An unchecked employment system, and a large base of employees that cut across the 36 states which the government cannot cater for.
-The constant clash of the PCN with other security outfits including the military.
-The possible political game between the executive and the legislature, amongst many others.
I guess all of the above and a whole lot more are the underlying reasons the presidency have failed or perhaps forgotten to mention.
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