The much anticipated Nigerian Peace Corps Bill has arrived Presidency for signing into law.
Copies of the bill which was tagged ‘Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill 2017 was said to have been transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday last week by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Ataba Sani-Omolori.
Out of the 3 copies of the Bill sent, the Presidency was to retain a copy and the remaining 2 copies be returned to the National Assembly for “further action”, upon the President’s assent.
Senate had passed the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill on the 25th of November, 2016, shortly after the House of Representatives passed same.
A Conference Committee of both chambers was, however, inaugurated on the 8th of December, 2016, to harmonise the Bill passed at different levels.
The Reps, therefore, laid and adopted its report on the 19th of January, 2017, while the Senate only adopted its report on 25th July 2017, after Senator David Umaru-led committee on Judiciary and Human Rights recommended that the report be adopted.
Since July last year when the conference report was adopted, there have been agitations from members of the public, especially, the Nigerian youths, anxiously expecting the speedy assent of Mr. President.
Aside the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) and other bodies which had been curious about the seemingly delay in signing the bill, Elders and Traditional Chiefs from the 8 local governments areas of Bayelsa State also, fortnight ago, wrote to the President, demanding why the Bill had not been assented to.
Addressing the Youth Council in Abuja recently, the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Amb (Dr.) Dickson Akoh said the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill had not been sent to the President for assent yet.
He said, the legal department of the National Assembly had barely finished cleaning up the document and putting finishing touches to it.
“To the best of my knowledge, I’m sure the Bill just got to the office of the Clerk to the National Assembly this week and by God’s grace, it will get to the President very soon”, Akoh explained.
Confirming the receipt of the Bill by the Presidency, the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, said the President was already working on the Bill.
Enang who spoke to our Correspondent on Tuesday said, the Peace Corps Bill was among other bills sent to the President last week, saying “the President is working on it, in accordance with our standard operating procedures”.
The Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill 2017, when signed into law, would give legal backing to the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria under the leadership of Mr. Akoh.
Part VIII (1) of the final version of the Bill before Mr. President reads, “The Peace Corps of Nigeria (in this section refered to as ‘Peace Corps’) existing before the commencement of this Act is dissolved”.
Subsections 5 and 6 of the same part VIII, however, allowed all serving members of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, both Regular and Volunteers, to be absolved into the Nigerian Peace Corps, at commencement.
The Bill also allows intending members between ages 18 and 35, other than the existing members of the PCN, to undergo one month mandatory orientation training.
The head of the Peace Corps, as captured in the Bill, shall be referred to as National Commandant, to be appointed by the President upon recommendations of the supervising Minister, for the period of 5 years which is renewable once.
The Nigerian Peace Corps, upon establishment, shall be domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, under the supervision Honourable Minister.
The core mandates of the Corps is to develop, empower and provide gainful employment to the youths, in order to facilitate Peace, Volunteerism, Community Services, Neighbourhood Watch, nation-building and other related matters.
The duties of officers are mainly at the educational institutions within the country, and to carry out other functions as provided in the bill.