Penultimate Friday, the House of Representatives clears the air on the controversies over the Nigerian Peace Corps. EMEKA NZE, who captured what transpired at the session, reports
Last Friday, the House of Representatives explained that the Dickson Akor-led Nigerian Peace Corps is the faction whose bill was passed into an Act awaiting presidential accent.
If there was, hitherto, a shred of doubt, over the leadership of the Nigerian Peace Corps or the bill which culminated in the enactment of the Act establishing the organisation, that doubt ought to have been cleared by now with the latest intervention of the House of Representatives which made it abundantly clear that it did not merge the Nigerian Peace Corps with any other organisation while passing the bill.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaq Namdas, who made this clarification in Abuja, said it was the Nigerian Peace Corps bill that had been passed by the House.
Namdas also clarified that the Nigerian Unity Peace Corps is not part of the act awaiting Presidential assent.
The House spokesman said the explanation had become necessary in other to address reports and insinuations in some quarters that a Unity Peace Corp bill was passed by the National Assembly.
He said: “The Nigerian Peace Corps bill was introduced by Abdullahi Farouk and this bill is entitled a bill for an act to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps to empower, develop and provide for employment for the youths, nation building and other related matters.”
Explaining further, the lawmaker said: “A bill passed in the House of Representatives alone cannot be a law or in the senate, so a conference committee (Senate and House) was put in place on December 8, 2016, this conference committee has identified about 12 clauses that differ and they sat down to harmonise the clauses.
“One thing I want to clarify, in the House we don’t have any bill known as National Unity and Peace Corps, so I want to say we don’t have anything as national unity peace corps or said to be harmonised, there was harmonisation. ”
“However, there is a clause that provided that people of great interest, common interest should be accommodated, we will like to quote that particular clause.”
“The individual(s), group, association, body that have similar objectives and have shown or are interested shall be absorbed as members of the Nigerian Peace Corps subject to be mandatory limited training structure and teaching programme as prescribed from time to time upon the commencement of this act”.
“So the national assembly did not merge any organisation with the peace corps.”
The point made by the House of Reps corroborated totally the position of the National Commandant of the Nigerian Peace Corps Ambassador Dickson Akoh
when he stated in an earlier interview that: “For the sake of clarity, the bill we submitted to National Assembly was on Nigerian Peace Corps and not Peace Corps of Nigeria. They didn’t merge anybody to form Nigerian Peace Corps. We originally went to National Assembly as Nigerian Peace Corps.
“Even during the harmonization, the House of Reps said the only provision made for them by the senate should be expunged because there was nothing before them like National Unity and Peace Corps.
“We don’t need to meet them, there is no provision merging them with us. But if they come, we are ready to absorb them on the condition that they will undergo our trainings and be under 45 years as provided by the Act establishing the corps.
“We can show you their pictures during the public hearing, some of them are older than most members of the National Assembly. The organization is meant for people between the ages of 18 and 45 years as prescribed by the law.”
For some top politicians and retired Generals said to be lobbying for the post of National Commandant of Peace Corps, Akoh has this advice for them: “Those who are lobbying are lobbying blindly. I advice them, whether you are a General or Field Marshal, to lobby with their eyes widely open. The provision is also here in the bill establishing the corps.
“It says in (38)(e), “Notwithstanding the provision of this Act, but subject to such directions as may be issued by Peace corps, a person who immediately before the commencement of this Act was a volunteer or a regular member of or held office in the Dissolved Peace Corps shall be deemed to have been transferred to Peace Corps on terms and condition not less favourable than those obtaining immediately before commencement of this Act, and service in the dissolved Peace Corps shall be deemed to be service in Peace Corps for purpose of pension”.