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OPINION

Why PMB Should Reconsider Peace Corps Bill

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As Nigerians wait with bated breath for the likely outcome of the 2019 presidential election, those of us who have confidence in the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari, based on his performance in the past three and a half years, are already looking beyond the election to running of the country after the general elections.

One of the areas that President Muhammadu Buhari must address urgently after the election is the high level of unemployment in the country, especially among the youth population. The recent level of unemployment figures that was announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is unacceptable by most Nigerians and I am convinced that the President is unhappy about the situation.

Having said that, I believe that one of the areas through which the President can reduce the level of unemployment is the Peace Corps Bill which the President earlier rejected when it was presented to him to sign into law by the National Assembly.

It would be recalled that the core mandate of the Nigerian Peace Corps as contained in the consolidated Bill was to empower, develop and provide gainful employment for the youths; to facilitate peace, volunteerism, community services, neighbourhood watch and nation building.  The Peace Corps is a youth organisation committed to the training, education and reorientation of the Nigerian youth for leadership position. This has become important as youths in Nigeria increasingly become tools used by criminal elements to disturb the peace of the country. That is why the corps inculcates in the youths, the spirit of nation building, respect for constituted authority and patriotism, among others.

With these trainings, the Nigerian youth become aware of the great role they have to play in conflict resolution and restoration of peace in troubled spots in the country.

Given the importance of the Peace Corps, especially in employment generation, and most importantly, in adding to the nation’s security architecture at a time the nation is facing serious security challenges, despite the commendable efforts of the administration, the President should, after his reelection, reconsider the bill.

It is also gratifying that many prominent Nigerians have joined in the call for the President to reconsider the Peace Corps Bill, the most recent being the Emir of Daura, Alhaji (Dr) Umar Farouk Umar, who appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to rescind his decision on the Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill. According to him, the corps, when established, would serve as a platform for providing massive job opportunities for Nigerian youths and creating the desired peaceful atmosphere against the prevailing height of insecurity in Nigeria.

Addressing the delegation of officers of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) in his palace recently, the Emir commended the organisation for its doggedness and for conducting itself peacefully by resorting to the rule of law and advocacy in pursuing its goals.

He hailed the Peace Corps personnel for conducting themselves within the ambit of the law in spite of their disappointments over the rejection of the Bill by President Buhari. As a father, he said he would look into the demands of the Corps with a view to making the Bill see the light of the day.

The monarch acknowledged that, “when the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill becomes law, it would serve as a platform for providing massive job opportunities for the Nigerian youths and creating the desired peaceful atmosphere against the prevailing height of insecurity in Nigeria.”

Similarly, the minister of Youths and Sports had been an advocate for the establishment of the Peace Corps, saying that it would save Nigeria and Nigerians from the menace of criminality, since its core mandate is to engage the youths who are currently roaming the streets.

It has been reported that the Corps has a membership of about 157,000 regular officers, 2 million volunteers and can provide jobs for about 3 million youths, all compelling reason to reconsider the Bill.

This writer is appealing to President Buhari to liaise with the national officials of the Peace Corps after his victory in the election to address his areas of concern for which he earlier rejected the Bill and produce a bill that is acceptable to all stakeholders for onward transmission to the incoming 9th National Assembly.

Let us usher in Buhari’s second term with the Peace Corps’ enabling law that would guarantee millions of jobs for Nigerian youths.

 

– Okere writes from Abuja

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