‘’Since men have learnt to shoot without missing, I have also learnt to fly without perching’’ …Eneke the bird in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
I crave the indulgence of my esteemed readers to permit me to confess from the onset that the title of this piece is borrowed from one of the pulsating tracks of the late legendary reggae artiste Robert Nesta Marley popularly known as Bob Marley.
After returning from a one week trip outside Abuja, I decided to go to the office and what I saw thrilled me greatly. Unlike in the last few months when the mood in the office was almost melancholic, this time around, the countenances of officers were sparklingly joyful, a vintage sign that positive things are in the offing.
Since it was established on July 10, 1998 in Kaduna by the young and energetic Dr Dickson Akoh with the sole mandate of giving the nation’s youths a sense of belonging, majority of Nigerians are on the same page in their opinion that Peace Corps of Nigeria, PCN, if given the chance to operate unfettered, has all it takes to change the fortunes of millions of Nigerian youths.
It is already knowledge that in its 21 years journey, the Corps has passed through diverse storms of staggering proportions so much so that if not for the sagacity and unrelenting commitment and focus of its founder, Dr Akoh, the Organization would have been eclipsed or driven underground by these challenges.
In a nation where the rule of law has become a pathetic victim of jackboot politics, it is to the eternal credit of the visionary leadership of Peace Corps that it has gingerly navigated through the labyrinth of mountainous odds stacked against it by those who do not wish the Organization well.
Those who have the elastic patience of a vulture to read the entire script of Peace Corps of Nigeria would readily testify to the fact that the travails of the Organization is predicated on the activities of a few elements who are prepared to do whatever it takes to torpedo its rising profile.
In life there are different classes of people. Out of these however, two stand out most prominently. In the first class are those who appreciate the goodness in others through the prism of objectivity, celebrating then when occasion demands and criticizing where there is the need to do so. Their criticism is usually informed and unbiased. These are those referred to by philosophers as great men and women.
Conversely, at the other side of the divide or coin are human beings that can hardly see anything good in others. To this myopic group of individuals, the world begins and ends within their tiny and narrow horizon. Often shallow-minded in their perception of events, there is the tendency to find fault even where none exists.
The ugly phenomenon is known in local parlance as PHD. Do not be deceived. The three-letter initials do not stand for the academic title, Doctor of Philosophy. Far from it! It simply means Pull Him Down, a cruel disposition targeted at celebrated achievers. This class of people is essentially unprincipled, seeking to distract hard working men and women from their noble goals.
Through the activities of this category of people, Peace Corps has suffered untold deprivations, including illegal closure of its new corporate headquarters and denial of presidential assent to the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill. Too sad to note that all the efforts of the 8th NASS to override the President’s veto after suffering a few spasmodic jerks, eventually ended up been sacrificed on the altar of political opportunism, a development that further dampened the morale of officers of the Corps.
All these sad developments notwithstanding, a combination of sizeable quantum of God’s grace, the visionary nay dynamic nature of its leadership coupled with absolute steadfastness, commitment and unparallel loyalty of its officers over these years have ensured the survival of the Organization even against the grain of negative expectations of its critics.
Today, the Organization is on the rebound with its Bill currently being reprocessed by the 9th National Assembly. On the issue of the Bill, while some officers have called to express their happiness with the development, others are apprehensive that the current process might take longer than necessary or that it may end up not been assented. Hell no!!!
On this note, I wish to categorically state that the process will be far shorter than when it was first introduced and passed by the 8th NASS. According to the Procedure on Bills in the Standing Rules of the House of Representatives (Ninth Edition), ‘’Bills passed by the preceding Assembly and forwarded to the Senate for concurrence for which no concurrence was made or negatived, or passed by the Senate and forwarded to the House for which no concurrence was made or negatived or which were passed by the NASS and forwarded to the President for assent but for which assent or withholding thereof was not communicated before the end of the tenure of the Assembly, the House may resolve that such Bills, upon being re-gazetted or clean copies circulated, be reconsidered in the Committee of the Whole without being commence de-novo’’.
Judging from the forgoing portion of the House Standing Rules, the process which the NPC bill is currently undergoing is constitutional and quite in order. Millions of Nigerian youths are hopeful that this time around, the President will do the needful on this all-important Bill, which many view as holding the key to unlocking the potentials of Nigerian youths that have seemingly been left marooned or adrift on the high seas of life.
And as part of efforts geared towards taking the Organization to greater heights and to actualize its dreams and aspirations, the Management recently embarked on some crucial policy measures to wit: effected changes to the official Logo of the Corps; rebranded the Staff Identity Card and overhauled the official Website of the Organization.
In order to give effect to the restructuring exercise, the National Commandant embarked on an official tour of all the Zonal Commands in the country, where discussions were held with officers of the Corps with a view to ensuring that the challenges confronting the Organization, especially the issue of the Bill are decisively tackled.
And that is not all. Officers deserving of promotion have been promoted with Deputy National Commandants (DNCs) appointed to take charge of Zonal Commands, while several other officers have been elevated to the rank of Assistant National Commandants (ANCs). Sure, things appear to be looking up for the Corps, all thanks to the National Commandant, Dr Dickson Akoh, who in spite of all the paralyzing ills starring the Organization in the face has remained unfazed and continued to tap into his acclaimed wisdom to pull out several joker cards.
According to a wise saying, ‘’when money is lost, nothing is lost. When time is lost, something is lost, but when hope is lost, then everything is lost’’. In the case of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, both money and time were lost, but the good thing is that hope was not lost in the process. So, hope is rife that the Corps is presently in the process of proving its critics cum enemies wrong by stepping back from the edge of the precipice to the glory of God. The Organization still remains Big, Strong and Reliable (apologies to Union Bank Plc).
For a quicker negotiation out of all the challenges, all officers of the Corps should remain perpetually vigilant, hopeful and above all, prayerful for the Egyptians that they have been seeing all these years, they shall soon see them no more. I rest my case. Period!
CREDIT- Rogers Edor Ochela
Ochela, the media consultant to Peace Corps of Nigeria is reachable via firstname.lastname@example.org (090-94411666—Texts only)