By Haruna Salami
A Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps passed second reading at the Senate on Tuesday.
The Bill, which was read the first time in the 9th Senate on Tuesday, December17, 2019 is sponsored by former Senate Leader and Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume.
Leading the debate on Tuesday, Ndume reminded the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan how the Bill was introduced and passed in the 8th Senate when he (Lawan) was the Senate leader.
The Bill went through all legislative processes, including Public Hearing, and was overwhelmingly passed by both Chambers of the National Assembly, Ndume narrated.
He explained the core mandate of the Corps which seeks “to develop, empower, and provide gainful employment for the youth to facilitate peace, volunteerism, community services, neighbourhood watch, nation-building and for other related matters”.
Ndume added that the Bill would “give statutory backing to the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria, which currently has over 187,000 members, comprising of regular staff and volunteers with a well-structured network of branches in 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory”.
He stressed that the Peace Corps of Nigeria, which came into existence in 1998, is an incorporated body by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“Based on its laudable achievements over the years, the Peace Corps was accorded Federal Government recognition, through the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. On the international scene, the Corps was equally granted a Special Consultative Status by the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)”, Ndume added.
He urged his colleagues to support the Bill, saying, “the Nigerian Peace Corps, when established, besides engaging millions of our unemployed youths permanently, has the capacity of complementing the functions of conventional security agencies in the areas of developing its members as supporting agents of social order by providing a second-line of public safety”.
Senator Ndume explained that the issues raised by President Muhammad Buhari as a reason for withholding assent to the Bill in the 8th Senate had already been addressed in the new Bill.
The Senate leader, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya, while seconding the Bill, urged his colleagues to give accelerated passage to the Bill, since it had already gone through the rudiments of lawmaking at both chambers in the 8th National Assembly.
Senate President Lawan, who presided over Tuesday’s plenary, therefore, referred the Bill to the Senate Committee on Interior, for further legislative actions.