Efforts to transform the Peace Corps, a nongovernmental organization into a government paramilitary agency was dealt a heavy and perhaps lasting blow as the House of Representatives on Thursday declined overriding the President Buhari’s veto of the Peace Corp bill.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier in the year declined assent to a bill, citing paucity of funds with which to manage the agency as well as multiplicity of security agencies in the country. However, there were hopes in some quarters that the honourable members of the House of Representatives might override the president’s veto through votes.
Indications of its eventual death started emerging when member of the house who had before now supported the bill backed out of the support being given. There are speculations that this might be due to the fear of going against the President’s wish thereby jeopardizing their chances of reclaiming their ticket to contest on the platform of the All Progressives Congress in a bid to get back into the house in 2019.
Nevertheless, the bill was presented to the house for second reading by Hon Emmanuel Orker-Jev (PDP), from Benue, with elaborate support from Rimande Shawulu (PDP) Taraba, Rita Orji (PDP) Lagos and some other PDP members. Members of the ruling party APC largely stood against the bill.
Members of the house took turns to either support or oppose the bill. Those in favour of the bill recommended that the Peace Corps, when operational would help to reduce crimes and alleviate the security challenges bedevilling the country. It will also help in providing gainful employment to teeming unemployed youths in the country while those against the bill based their argument on the fact that it would amount to duplicity of roles and constituting a parallel agency with other agencies that are performing more or less the same functions.
Moreover, President Buhari as the Commander in Chief as well as a former military officer understands the security challenges facing the country and thus with a firsthand knowledge and understanding in a better position to gauge the necessity of the Corps vis a vis the security situation of the country.
The development is certain to be a blow to members of the paramilitary outfit. The Peace Corps has served as hope for many Nigeria youths since it started operation as an NGO, praying that someday the Nigeria government will sign the bill into law.
It will be recalled that in February this year the Nigeria Police Force had opposed the operations of the Peace Corps and arrested its Head Dickson Akoh after being accused of using the organization registered as a Non-governmental organization to extort young youth who are job seeker.
Any hope of the Bill being assented to now lies solely on the goodwill of the President.
By Victor Alagogooko and Oluwaseyi Omojaro for IbadanCity Announcer