The Peace Corps of Nigeria has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to withhold assent to a bill that would make it a paramilitary agency.
The president witheld his assent to the Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill passed by the National Assembly in 2017.
In a letter read by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Tuesday, Mr. Buhari gave reasons why he would not assent the bill.
He cited security concerns and financial implications amongst reasons for his decision.
Speaking to journalists at the National Assembly on Tuesday, the commandant of the corps, Dickson Akoh, said the president’s decision was not strange to him.
“Let me tell you, on 15th of January, the same security agencies that opposed the bill went to Mr. President and told him that instead of voting money to create a new establishment, they should use it to improve the efficiency of their own activities.”
He said the security agencies also told the president that the Peace Corps was a duplication of what they were already doing. He said that prompted the advertorial his organisation did in major newspapers highlighting the differences between the expected functions of the Peace Corps and other existing security agencies.
“For me, whatever I’m doing is in the interest of the vast majority of Nigerian youths.
“From what I’m seeing, there is a conspiracy against Nigerian youth,” he said.
He said the security agencies had vowed after the passage of the bill by the National Assembly to do anything to forestall the president’s assent.
“We have bills like this that suffered the same setback but eventually became a reality.
“We are consoled by the due process of the law and we know that one day, attention would be given to the bill.
“Building an institution takes a gradual process that we ought not to be in a hurry.”
The headquarters of the Peace Corps has for about a year been under seal by the Nigerian Police.
Despite two court orders, the police have said they will keep the facility shut in the “interest of national security and public safety.”
The police and other established security agencies, including the State Security Service, have repeatedly resisted the Peace Corps’ push to become a paramilitary agency. The corps is currently a registered non-governmental organisation. ( Premium times)