The National Assembly Conference Committee set up by both Senate and the House of Representatives to harmonise the Bill for an Act to establish the Nigeria Peace Corps has adopted a harmonised uniform position, thereby clearing coast for transmission of the Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
The Harmonised Report of the Conference Committee was laid and adopted by the House of Reps on Thursday.
It showed that the Conference adopted the version of the Bill as passed in terms of clause 38(2).
Highlight of the adopted report was on clause 38 (1) of the version passed by the Senate, which was in conflict with the version passed by the House of Representatives as contained under clause 38 (1).
Whereas the Senate’s version seeks dissolution of the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria and National Unity and Peace Corps, the House of Representatives version of the Bill solely recommends the dissolution of the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria to transform into the Nigerian Peace Corps when assented to President Buhari..
The Conference report clarified that for a Bill to become an Act of Parliament in Nigeria, it must pass through the two Chambers of the National Assembly, a criteria which the National Unity and Peace Corps Bill could not attain because its Bill was never debated unlike that of the Peace Corps of Nigeria debated and passed by the two Chambers.
However, the Bill for an Act to establish the Nigeria Peace Corps expressly provided under clause 38 (8) a window of opportunity for individuals, groups, associations or bodies that show or demonstrate interest to be absorbed as members of the Corps shall be absorbed subject to the mandatory basic training and orientation program of the Corps as may be prescribed from time to time when the Bill is signed into law.
Members of the Senate’s Committee are: Senators Kashim Shettima (Chairman), Abba Moro, Betty Apiafi, Oriolowo Adelere, Eyinnaya Abaribe and Seriake Dickson as members.
Members of the House Conference Committee are Hon. Babangida Ibrahim (Chairman), Hon. Tijani Kayode Ismail, Hon. Chinedu Ogah, Hon. Ibrahim Umar Potiskum, Hon. Abdulmumini Are and Hon .Legor Idegbo as members.
It will be recalled that the Nigeria Peace Corps Establishment Bill passed in 2022 by the two Chambers was sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee of the Nigerian Army, Senator Ali Ndume, while that of the House of Representatives was sponsored by the Chief Whip, Rt. Hon. Mohammed Monguno, as HB17
The harmonised copy of the Bill is expected to be transmitted to President Buhari immediately for Presidential Assent.
The Bill, among others, seeks to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps as a body to be charged with the responsibility to develop, empower and provide gainful employment to youths, facilitate peace, volunteerism, community service, neighbourhood watch and nation building.
Part Vlll of the passed Bill, when assented to by President Buhari, would give statutory backing to the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria.
The Peace Corps of Nigeria, established over 24 years ago under the National Commandant, Professor Dickson Ameh Akoh, was Incorporated in Nigeria under the Company and Allied Matters Act and accorded the Federal Government recognition through the Federal Ministry of Youth Development.
Due to the value driven programmes of the Corps, aimed at the socio-economic empowerment of the Nigerian youths and its onerous contributions to peace building and advocacy, the United Nations in 2011 accorded the organisation a Special Consultative Status, while the African Union in 2016 accorded same status to it, thus making it a member of the Social and Economic Councils of both the United Nations and the African Union.
So far, the organisation has a well structured network of offices in the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.