An international youth expert and former President of the Pan African Youth Union, Comrade Ben Duntoye, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly reconsider and retract his position on the Nigeria Peace Corps Bill.
Duntoye made this appeal last Friday at a press briefing in Abuja.
He described the Peace Corp as an organisation designed to be a vehicle for mass mobilization and engagement of the Nigerian youth into regimental Community Development Services, domesticated para-military volunteerism for ad-hoc interventions like national clean up exercise, population census, voters registration and elections, maintenance of peace and order in schools and public places and general neighbourhood services, which is an existing gap in our national development efforts.
According to Duntoye, his centre had carefully studied the bill before the public hearings organized by the National Assembly and it discovered that the NPC was structured to be the most cost effective agency of government in Nigeria providing maximum services at most minimal cost on the nation’s economy, with great potentials of attracting international funding and support like its counterparts around the globe.
He said it did not come as a surprise to his team that out of the over 500 memos received by the National Assembly, all except the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps and the Department of State Services supported the passage of the bill.
“The national outburst of jubilation across the country that followed the news of the passage of the bill by both chambers of the National Assembly was a clear and good testimony that the NPC Bill was both people oriented and commanded the general goodwill of well-meaning Nigerians and the masses, Duntoye said.
Duntoye said his centre could not comprehend the rationale behind the rejection of the bill by President Muhammadu Buhari, since no technical or convincing reasons were offered except the claims of economic constraints and security concerns, “which to us are inadequate and surmountable.”
“The NPC can be established without full salary, but sustainable subvention till the nation’s economy improves. Again with proper legislative backings the agency can on its own source financial support from the organised private sector and development partners and be useful in nation building, without stringent financial burden on government purse.
Duntoye noted that he was disturbed that the same Mr President and Federal Government that avowed to create a million jobs every year for the Nigerian youth was now turning down such a progressive Bill.
“This is very irreconcilable. The government should have more courage to get funds to employ young people through the Peace Corps Bill. Failure to do this will justify the political conspiracy theory against the person of Dickson Akoh by some political actors in the country,” Duntoye said.
He passionately appealed to the National Assembly to remain steadfast and committed to its resolve to better the lives of the Nigerian youth and masses by exploring all constitutional provisions to remedy this Presidential rejection of the NPC Bill.
“While awaiting the news of positive response to this public outcry, we shall embark upon mass mobilization of millions of Nigerians to prove the popularity of the NPC Bill to the local and international community,” he concluded.