Peace Corps: Putting the Record Straight
PEOPLES DAILY, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2017
By Rogers Edor Ochela
Prior to the passage and harmonization of the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC) Bill by the National Assembly, which is currently awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent, the only entity known to Nigerians and the international community with the nomenclature of Peace Corps is the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) headed by Ambassador (Dr) Dickson A. O. Akoh. Ask any Nigerian on the street, and he/she will off-handedly tell you that it is that organization headed by Dr. Akoh. And they reasons for the organization’s ubiquitous visibility are not far-fetched. They include: functional offices in the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) headed by State Commandants; over one hundred and thirty five thousand regular members and Volunteers and landmark achievements etc.
Conversely, the organization known as the National Unity and Peace Corps (NUPC) headed by Dr Chinedu Nneji was an unknown entity, with hardly any visible presence in most states of the federation. So, in a nutshell, it is an inconsequential lot with its headquarters tucked somewhere at Area 1, Garki of the FCT. Flowing from the foregoing, it has not registered its presence in the minds of millions of youths that ought to have underpinned its corporate existence, unlike the Akoh-led PCN that has made its 18 years of existence felt in several areas that time and space will not permit me to recount here.
Even with this well-known fact in the public domain, Nigerians were taken aback, when after the passage of the NPC Bill; Dr. Nneji suddenly went haywire, offending the sensibilities of well-meaning Nigerians with his countless courtesy visits to media houses, where he has cultivated the habit of distorting facts to massage his over-bloated ego. It is sad to note that for reasons best known to him, Nneji has turned himself into a fiction designer with specialization in lie embroidery.
In this piece, I intend to put a pin to Nneji’s balloon of lies or worse still, dissect his cocktail of fallacies with a view to setting the records straight, lest he swindles unsuspecting millions of youths, who out of desperation for quick jobs, are likely to fall victims to his capricious antics.
Nneji stood honesty on its head or was simply been economical with the truth when he said that he has been directed by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to act as the Commandant of the Peace Corps pending presidential assent to the Peace Corps Bill. He equally spoke with a bifurcated tongue when he said that in arriving at the name Nigerian Peace Corps, ‘’the National Assembly picked Peace Corps from our organization (that is National Unity and Peace Corps) and picked Nigeria from theirs (Peace Corps of Nigeria)’’. Balderdash! What a convenient to sidetrack the truth.
At this juncture, it is necessary that we set the records straight. Dear reader, come along with me as we mount the horse and gallop down the memory lane of recent history. Contrary to the erroneous impressions being created by the utterly desperate Dr. Nneji, the NUPC Bill did not pass through the House of Representatives. The truth is that Nneji was jolted to reality from a self-induced slumber when the Peace Corps of Nigeria Bill had been passed by the House of Representatives and tabled before the Senate for deliberation.
In his infantile imagination, he thought every Nigerian, including the senators, has a price tag and subsequently went underground to ‘’lobby’’ the senators after which he submitted a badly packaged Bill for his organization to the Senate. At a point, he was reportedly begging all manner of people to prevail on the National Commandant of the PCN, Amb (Dr) Dickson A. 0. Akoh, for a possible merger of the two organizations!
As a peace-loving man, who is interested in anything that will enhance the empowerment of Nigerian youths, Akoh agreed in principle and that was how moves to harmonize the two Bills commenced. When the Bill was eventually passed on 24th November, 2016, both chambers of the NASS in a move to harmonize the two Bills set up a Conference Committee to reconcile the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill in their respective Plenary in November, 2016.
The Committee observed differences in twelve (12) Clauses of the Bill passed and eventually harmonized same as follows:
· (A) The out-right rejection of the Clause that included the National Unity and Peace Corps (NUPC). The House rejected the NUPC on the ground that its Bill did not pass through its hallowed chambers. The reality is that before a Bill is passed in the NASS, it has to pass through both chambers, after a rigorous public hearing. Unfortunately, the NUPC Bill failed miserably in this regard.
· Clause 37(g) was adopted with an amendment to read: that groups, associations and organizations that have similar objectives (like NUPC) and have shown or demonstrated interest to be absorbed as members of the Nigerian Peace Corps shall be subject to the Mandatory Initial Training/Orientation Programme as prescribed from time-to-time upon the commencement of this Act.
· Above all, the Conference retained the nomenclature or title of Head of NPC as the ‘National Commandant’, obviously adopted from the PCN.
A thorough scrutiny of the Bill passed/harmonized by both Chambers of the NASS and eventually adopted by the Conference Committee reveals that virtually all submissions contained in the Bill of the Peace Corps of Nigeria under Dr. Akoh’s leadership were adopted to wit: the title of the Bill, Establishment/Objectives and to a considerable extent, the functions. With this development, is anyone still in doubt about which organization’s Bill that was passed and adopted by the Committee?
In spite of this glaring position of the NASS, Dr. Nneji, for reasons best known to him, has refused to toe the path of constitutionality. Instead, he has contumaciously stuck to the gun of intransigence, distorting reality and confusing members of the public by referring to himself as the National Commandant (NC) of the NPC. In several media briefings with selected journalists, he had introduced himself as the NC, which is far from the truth.
Rumours had it that immediately after the passage of the Bill in November 2016; Dr. Nneji allegedly went gaga by changing signboards of his organization to NPC and Staff Identity Cards from NUPC to NPC. What manner of desperation is this? Nneji must be told in no uncertain terms that the way and manner he has been junketing from one media house to another, all in an attempt to shore up his dwindling image can neither help nor save him. In saner climes of the world, breaching due process the way and manner he has been doing is enough to earn him a stint in Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison. Nneji and members of his organization should either go back to the drawing board or be prepared to eat the humble pie through absorption into the Nigerian Peace Corps. In that case, they should be ready to undergo the mandatory training/orientation programme as contained in Clause 37(g) of the Nigerian Peace Corps Act.
Culled from People’s Daily: http://www.peoplesdailyng.com/peace-corps-putting-the-record-straight/