- The rejection of the Peace Corps bill by President Muhammadu Buhari is still a major topic in the polity
- An international youth expert, Comrade Ben Duntoye has called on the president to quickly reconsider and retract his position on the bill
- He described the reasons given by the president for not passing the bill as vague and in-explicit
An international youth expert and former president of the Pan African Youth Union, Comrade Ben Duntoye has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly reconsider and retract his position on the Nigeria Peace Corps bill.
At a press briefing in Abuja on Friday, March 9, the Executive Director, African Youth Support Centre and Former President, Pan African Youth Union, Comrade Ben Duntoye listed some of the main functions of the Peace Corps.
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1. Vehicle for mass mobilization and engagement of the Nigerian youth into regimental community development services
2. Domesticated para-military volunteerism for ad-hoc interventions like national clean up exercise, population census, voters registration and elections
3. Maintenance of peace and order in schools and public places and
4. General neighbourhood services
He stated that talking about overlap of responsibility with any existing structure is totally out of place.
According to him, his center; African Youth Support Centre has done a careful study of the bill before the public hearings organized by the National Assembly and discovered that the NPC is structured to be the most cost effective aagency of government in Nigeria.
He added that the organisation has the potentials of attracting international funding and support like its counterparts around the globe.
“The national outburst of jubilation across the country that followed the news of the passage of the bill by both chambers of the National Assembly was a clear and good testimony that the NPC bill was both people oriented and commanded the general goodwill of well-meaning Nigerians and the masses,” Duntoye said.
He said his centre could not comprehend the rationale behind the rejection of the bill by the president, since no technical or convincing reasons were offers except the “vague and in-explicit assertion of economic constraints and security concerns, which to us are inadequate and surmountable.”
He continued: “The NPC can be established without full salary, but sustainable subvention till the nation's economy improves. Again with proper legislative backings the agency can on its own source financial support from the Organised Private Sector and development partners and be useful in nation building, without stringent financial burden on government purse.”
He lamented that the same Mr. President and Federal Government that vowed to create a million jobs every year for the Nigerian youth is the same government turning down such a progressive bill.
“This is very irreconcilable. The government should have more courage to get funds to employ young people through the Peace Corps Bill. Failure to do this will justify the political conspiracy theory against the person of Ambssador Dickson Akoh by some political actors in the country,” Duntoye said.
He appealed to the National Assembly to remain steadfast and committed to its resolve to better the lives of the Nigerian youths and masses by exploring all constitutional provisions to remedy the rejection of the bill.
“While awaiting the news of positive response to this public outcry, we shall embark upon mass mobilization of millions of Nigerians to prove the popularity of the NPC bill to the local and international community,” he concluded.
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Meanwhile, the council of commandants and Board of Trustees of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) have called on President Buhari to reevaluate and reconsider his decision to withhold his assent to the Peace Corps bill.
They made the call at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday, March 2, arguing that there was no security agency in Nigeria that was currently undertaking the functions ascribe to Peace Corps in the said bill.
Speaking on behalf of the organisation, the national commandant, Dr Dickson Akoh said the bill does not conflict with that of the functions of any existing security agency in the country.
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