Hope rising: House of Representatives pass Peace Corps bill

The House of Representatives has once again passed the bill to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps, a bill for a third reading and will now await the concurrence of the Senate before onward transmission to President Bola Tinubu for assent.

Penpushing reports that it is recalled that former President Muhammadu Buhari had at different times failed to assent to the Peace Corps bill, while it is also not clear if the incumbent, President Bola Tinubu will do contrary

The Leader of the House, Hon Julius Ihonvbere of All Progressives Congress (APC) Edo state , moved the bill for the third reading of the bill, and it was adopted unanimously., while on Wednesday, the Committee of the Whole had undertaken a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.

Penpushing further reports that the bill seeks to transform the Peace Corps, a Non-Governmental Organisation(NGO), into a Government Paramilitary Agency, and equally aims to provide legal backing to the establishment of the Peace Corps as a government parastatal and allow its members to be absorbed into the proposed organisation at commencement.

The Peace Corps bill was first introduced into the House during the 8th Assembly during which it scaled all legislative hurdles, however, Buhari, who was the President then declined assent to the bill in February 2018, citing security concerns as one of the reasons for his decision.

Penpushing also reports that Buhari equally cited the paucity of funds and duplication of duties of existing security agencies by the proposed corps as other reasons, but Hon Mohammed Monguno and Ali Ndume in the House and Senate, respectively reintroduced the bill in the 9th Assembly

The bill after a series of back-and-forth, was subsequently passed in March 2023, with the passage followed the harmonisation of the different versions passed by both chambers, and it was thereafter transmitted to Tinubu for assent through a letter dated June 8, 2023 and signed by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Sani Tambawal.

Penpushing reports that, Tinubu, however, did not sign the bill until the 9th Assembly adjourned sine die, and the bill became status-barred by June 13,2023 when the 10th National Assembly was inaugurated.

The bill which is coming at a time of a strong push for the implementation of the Oronsaye report, was last year reintroduced by the House and sponsored by Deputy Speaker Hon Ben Kalu and others, just as it is recalled that the President had on Monday ordered the implementation of the Oronsaye report amid a biting fiscal environment.

Penpushing further reports that the Oronsaye-led committee, in its report, recommended that of the 541 Statutory and Non-Statutory Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies and Commissions, 263 statutory agencies should be reduced to 161, 38 agencies should be abolished, 52 agencies should be merged, and 14 should revert to departments in ministries.

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