The Nigerian Senate has finally passed the Peace (establishment) Corps bill with Bukola Saraki declaring that it was a long journey that finally led the country to the promise land. “One long journey, we finally got to the Promise land. Thank you all,” Saraki said after the bill was passed on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.
In a motion moved by the deputy chairman, Senate committee on interior, Senator Bayero Nafada, the Senate resolved that, the federal government of Nigeria should give statutory backing to the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria. This was sequel to the report of the Senate committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters, urging the Senate to go ahead with the adoption of the conference committee report. According to the chairman of the committee, Senator David Umaru, the Senate would not obstruct the adoption of the conference report, as it had already been passed, even though he said the issues raised by the Senate were fundamental. He, however, said the committee had met with various stakeholders and consulted widely on the adoption of the conference committee report, before coming up with its recommendation. It could be recalled that, the red chamber passed the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill on November 25, 2016 shortly after the House of Representatives passed same. A conference committee of both chambers was however inaugurated on December 8, 2016, to harmonise the bill passed at different levels. The lower house had laid and adopted its report on January 19, while the Senate only laid the report, but deferred its adoption. After considering the issues raised by the Senate, it was resolved in May 2017, that the David Umaru-led committee should critically review the ongoing imbroglio of the Corps and other agencies and advise the Senate appropriately. The Senate therefore, expunged the National Unity and Peace Corps from the newly harmonised version of the Bill. Also in the harmonised version of the bill, the head of the Peace Corps shall be referred to as the National Commandant, with 6 Deputy National Commandants representing the 6 geopolitical zones of the country.
The corps, a youth-based organisation, came into force after it was given a nod by the National Assembly through a bill that was passed, but the police had allegedly kicked against the granting it a go-ahead to operate.
The Corps, according to the Consolidated Bill, shall also be domiciled with the federal ministry of youths and sports development. With the adoption of the conference committee report, the bill is now set to be transmitted to the presidency, for assent. The core mandates of the Corps is to develop, empower and provide gainful employment to the youths, in order to facilitate peace, volunteerism, community services, neighbourhood watch, nation-building and other related matters.