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That controversy over Peace Corps Bill

It is increasingly becoming clearer by the day that some elements are getting more desperate about the fact that an unforgettable fortune of a life time is about to smile on the Peace Corps of Nigeria as a result of the efforts of its founder, Amb. (Dr) Dickson A. O. Akoh. The Akoh-phobia, instead of dissipating, is rather burgeoning in the camp of his critics.

Since the adoption of the Bill for an Act to Establish the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC) by the Senate on Tuesday, July 27, 2017, a segment of the nation’s media, principally the social media have been awash with several allegations that border essentially on speculation devoid of any empirical evidence to support such.
It would be recalled that since the Bill was sponsored by Hon. Umar Farouk in the House of Representatives and Sen. Ali Ndume in the Senate, some dark forces, especially those who hate Akoh’s guts with a passion and are willing to sacrifice any part of their body to have both him and the corps crucified, have been in the trenches fuelling all manner of controversies in the public domain.

Because Akoh has over the years resisted all manner of pressures to capitulate to the desires of the enemies of Nigerian youths through the abandonment of his noble pet project, the PCN, he and the Corps have been marked for destruction.

That is why some could go to the extent of saying that senators were monetarily induced to adopt the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill, while others allege that some ‘’key senators’’ were even promised over 500 employment slots to ensure that the bill was adopted.

All these allegations are simply the products of the fecund imagination of those who wish Peace Corps dead at all costs, not minding the fact that the establishment of this organization is a dream come true for millions of Nigerian youths who have been at the receiving end of the grandiose mismanagement of the nation’s affairs over the years.

It would be recalled that during the Public Hearing conducted by the two chambers of the National Assembly (NASS) on the NPC Bill, the Police, Civil Defence and the DSS registered their opposition to it by submitting memos and backing them up with oral presentation. However, their opposition was overwhelmed by the over 580 memoranda and presentations by major stakeholders who declared their support for the bill at the hearing. So, those that are opposed to the bill have either not read its contents to really appreciate the functions assigned to the corps or they merely elected to be mischievous in their wild criticisms. In this context, for anybody to assert that these senators were compromised before this same bill could be passed and adopted smacks of playing to the gallery.

The so-called opposition of the Head of Service to the bill was premised essentially on the fear that because there is economic recession, it will be a bit burdensome for the government to comfortably fund the corps.  This is understandable considering the dwindling revenue accruing to the Federation Account.

Another issue I find really irksome and objectionable is the strange trenchant opposition of the Senate Committee Chairman on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Sen. David Umaru, who was mandated to look into the court case between the corps and the police and advise the senate accordingly, whether the case will have any legal implication on the adoption of the bill. Surprisingly, he went beyond his brief and aligned with some well-known opponents of the corps. The allegation of bribery leveled against the corps is so puerile that it is not worth being dignified with any response. The only response to this malicious allegation is a question: how can an NGO like the Peace Corps muster enough financial muscle to bribe the highest paid legislators in the world, the Nigerian senators? Of course, it is not possible.

Ochela is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja
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