Public Hearing; Nigeria Peace Corps receives boost as stakeholders support bill

Efforts to get the Nigeria Peace Corps accord recognition and ultimately enjoy federal funding received a boost at the National Assembly as stakeholders spoke in support of the passage of the Establishment Bill.

The occasion was the public hearing for the passage of the Peace Corps Establishment Bill and three others by the Senate Committee on Interior led by former Borno State governor and Senator representing Borno Central, Kashim Shettima.

In his opening remarks, Senator Kashim Shettima said the Bill was meant to reposition and streamline the institutional framework of the organisation by strengthening its capacity to provide community policing.

He expressed the hope that when regularised, Nigeria Peace Corps would complement existing security agencies in the fight against insecurity and also provide gainful employment for the youths.

He said: “This bill is very important in view of the fact that the Federal Government had made frantic efforts in curbing the menace of insecurity, terrorism, banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping and other vices across Nigeria, without expected return of peace in our land.”

In his contribution, the founder of the Corps, Professor Dickson Akor, said the major reason for setting up the organisation in 1998 was to serve as a veritable platform for youth engagement and productivity in society.

He expressed regret that those the Corps meant to keep positively engaged now indulge in various nefarious activities.

He said: “When I started the organisation, I applied to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and it was registered in 2003 and subsequently, the Ministry of Youths and Social Development accorded it recognition in line with the National Policy on Youth Development.

“The Federal Ministry of Education also granted the organisation to establish Peace Corps in all Unity Colleges in Nigeria where in terms of enforcement of discipline like checking of intruders into schools and vandalisation of school properties.

“If you visit schools, you will find out the job Peace is doing. In the same vein, the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory wanted the approval of the Peace Corps of Nigeria to establish its formation in all schools and colleges in their various States and I have the written approval to that effect.

“Therefore, the issue that we are duplicating responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Youth Development and the Federal Ministry of Education is completely out of place.

“I want to say Mr Chairman that based on the dynamic nature of the society, the time has come for the Nigeria Peace Corps to be elevated from the level of volunteerism to that of the government-driven operational template.”

Earlier in his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the issues that informed President Muhammadu Buhari stance to decline the Bill presidential assent in the 8th National Assembly have been taken care of.

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