The National Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), Professor, Dickson Ameh Akoh has appealed passionately with President Muhammadu Buhari to this time around, assent to a Bill for an Act that would make the organization a statutory body.
The Bill for an Act to Establish the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC) passed by the two Chambers of the National Assembly is currently on the table of President Buhari for assent having been transmitted to him last week.
However, addressing a World Press Conference on the development in Abuja on Thursday, Prof Akoh said that President Buhari will bequeath a lasting parting gift to the Nigerian youth and would be remembered for good when he assented to the Bill.
Justifying the need for Buhari to sign the Bill, Akoh explained that its entire contents, especially the functions contained in the Bill is a summation of an inclusive empowerment programmes for the youth and on how to harness their innate potentials for the over all tasks of nation-building.
According to him, the passage of the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill is not only timely, reassuring and a renewed hope for the Nigerian youth, but also a pointer to the fact that the political elites is still very much conscious of the social challenges confronting the youth and therefore, passionate on proffering solutions to the challenges to same in order to place the youth in the front burner of our national life.
Akoh said to underscore the high level of acceptability of the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill, opinion polls conducted in 2017 by The Nation Newspaper, Naija.com and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA-Good Morning Nigeria) revealed that 89%, 76% and 97% respectively supported the establishment of the Nigerian Peace Corps.
Similarly, he said that Premium Times, an online publication and Punch Newspaper conducted opinion poll on the Bill and returned a favourable verdict of 85% and 93% respectively in its support.
“Concerned with the increasing waves of unemployment and high level of poverty in the land, both past and present administrations initiated different intervention policies to mitigate these challenges.
“Some of these initiatives are Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P), You- Win, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), N-Power, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), Government Intervention Funds (GIF), Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) and Social Safety Net (SSN).
“It is a proven fact and incontrovertible reality that once these ‘Financial Handouts’ are no longer forthcoming or delayed in coming, these same Youths go back to the streets on protest or quickly revert to social ills and unproductive preoccupations, and even sometimes back-lashing the Government.
“However, it is advisable that a more robust, sustainable and institutionalized approach be adopted to ensure irreversibility of conditions and welfare status of our youths. In more developed economies, efforts are tailored towards the pre-occupation of the youths in productive ventures where they will be economically useful to themselves and the larger society.
“This is in addition to engaging them in moral, citizenship and leadership training aimed at character building and their valuable participation in nation-building.
“In the United States of America, for instance, the American Peace Corps was created as an agency to promote World Peace and Friendship by training American youths as volunteers to perform social and humanitarian services overseas, including Nigeria.
“The volunteers help communities in Developing Countries improve their Social and Economic conditions.
“The dynamic nature of insecurity in Nigeria today requires role differentiation as a panacea to expertise in addressing security challenges. It also requires multi- sectoral, multi- lateral and multi- dimensional approaches to tackle.
“In more advanced societies, Youth Based Organisations like the Nigerian Peace Corps, are established with the sole aim of engaging and pre-occupying the youths as a panacea to the social consequences of been unemployed.
“Similar organisations that exist in other parts of the world are: the American Peace Corps, Canadian Peace Corps, Bangladesh National Cadet Corps, Peace Officers Commission in China, Chinese Labour Corps, Lera Uniform Corps of Malaysia, Malaysian People Volunteer Corps, Production and Construction Corps of China.
“All these are consciously and deliberately designed to empower and socially pre-occupy the youths so that their state of idleness won’t be exploited adversely.
Akoh thanked the leadership and entire members of the 9th National Assembly for the extraordinary and unanimous support given to his Organisation all through the legislative processes leading to the eventual passage of the Bill for an Act to Establish Nigerian Peace Corps.
He said that the overwhelming support accorded the Bill by the members of the Senate and House of Representatives would be recognised and celebrated by all bonafide members of the Corps.
“While we particularly note with deep appreciation, the cordial efforts and support for our Bill, it is our most considered view that the members of the 9th Assembly, have through the passage of the Bill, demonstrated their strong passion and commitment to the emancipation of Nigerian Youth through genuine youth empowerment and development, which are prerequisite for addressing the increasing wave of unemployment and its social consequences upon the nation.
“However, we assure them that when the history of this Organisation is written, their names will have a pride of place and be written in gold.
Akoh also thanked media in the country for the support to the Peace Corps and the eventual passage of the Bill.
“II wish to re-assure you that we will remain a veritable partner as we hope to transit from a Non-Governmental Organisation to a Government Agency with the anticipated assent of the Bill by Mr President”.