By Yemi Itodo
The Nigerian National Assembly, on Friday said it would not hesitate to invoke the relevant session of the Nigerian 1999 constitution, and override the executive powers of President Muhammadu Buhari, if he does not eventually assent to the Bill establishing Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC).
The Senate had passed the Peace Corps Bill on the 25th of November, 2016, shortly after the House of Representatives passed same.
A Conference Committee of both chambers was also inaugurated on the 8th of December, 2016, to harmonise the Bill passed at different levels.
The Reps, therefore, laid and adopted its report on the 19th of January, 2017, while the Senate only adopted its report on 25th July 2017, after Senator David Umaru-led committee on Judiciary and Human Rights recommended that the report be adopted.
Consequently, the clean copy of the Bill, which was marked ‘Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill 2017’ was transmitted to the Presidency on Wednesday, 27th December 2017, by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr. Mohammed Ataba Sani-Omolori, after 3 months.
President Buhari, has, however, kept calm on whether the Bill would be assented to or not.
Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, had told our Correspondent recently, that the Peace Corps Bill was among other bills sent to the President in December and that, “the President is working on it, in accordance with our standard operating procedures”.
In a chat with Vanguard Newspaper on Friday, the Spokesman for the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdulrazaq Namdas, said the members would wait patiently for President Muhammadu Buhari to write the NASS if he would not append his signature to the bill before deciding on what next step.
Namdas said the lawmakers were aware that the president was in the habit of giving reasons whenever he rejects a bill sent to him by the NASS.
“But if we wait up to a certain time and the usual excuses we expect of him does not come then the House may take a further action to override the president.
“If you remember just last week he returned three bills stating the reasons he refused to sign them into law,” Namdas said.
Speaking on behalf of the Senate, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said the Senate will do what the constitution specifies in case Mr. President refuses to assent the Peace Corps Bill.
He said that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for what should be done if a bill passed by the National Assembly, transmitted to the President for assent did not receive the assent of the President.
“For me personally I see it as a very good thing; it is not new to Nigeria but it is happening in many other countries so that was why in the first instance, the National Assembly supported it”, Senator Sabi added.
Recall also that, the Speaker of House of Representatives, during the imbroglio between the Peace Corps Boss and the Nigeria Police, vowed that the National Assembly would exercise its function as enshrined in the constitution, if Mr. President fails to sign the Bill.
Just last month, the Senate, while lamenting on the current state of security architecture Nigeria, called on Buhari to quickly assent to the Bill to establish Nigerian Peace Corps, “for intelligence gathering and neighbourhood watch”.
The Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill 2017, when signed into law, would give legal backing to the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria under the leadership of Amb (Dr.) Dickson Akoh.
The head of the Peace Corps, as captured in the Bill, shall be referred to as National Commandant, to be appointed by the President upon recommendations of the supervising Minister, for the period of 5 years which is renewable once.
The Nigerian Peace Corps, upon establishment, shall be domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, under the supervision Honourable Minister, as it is neither a security agency nor a paramilitary, but a youth based organisation.
The core mandates of the Corps is to develop, empower and provide gainful employment to the youths, in order to facilitate Peace, Volunteerism, Community Services, Neighbourhood Watch, nation-building and other related matters.
The duties of officers are mainly at the educational institutions within the country, and to carry out other functions as provided in the bill.