The Borno senator, Ali Ndume, has said the establishment of the Nigerian Peace Corps is not only important but necessary.
The lawmaker who addressed journalists on Wednesday, explained his reasons for reintroducing the bill in the Senate.
The bill, Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill, was one of the six bills that were read for the first time at plenary on Tuesday.
It was passed by the National Assembly in 2017 but President Muhammadu Buhari refused to sign it into law in February 2018.
The bill seeks to turn the Peace Corps, currently a non-governmental organisation, into a government para-military agency.
The law sought to give legal backing to the establishment of Peace Corps as a government parastatal, and allow all serving members of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, both regular and volunteers, to be absolved into the proposed organisation at commencement.
In separate letters to the Senate and House of Representatives, Mr Buhari cited security concerns amongst reasons for his decision.
He also cited paucity of funds and duplication of duties of existing security agencies by the proposed corps as his main reasons.
In his reaction, Mr Ndume said he has considered the president’s reasons for rejecting the bill.
“He never said the idea of having a Peace Corps is not good. So, that is why I said it is important to look at the issues raised by the President and look at the bill again – so that we can harmonise their responsibility in other security agencies.
“For example, if you have police that is on the National Assembly that can provide security in a state or local government, deployed to VIPs or politicians, you can conveniently attach those Peace Corps members to them so that you have to be having a senator working around with somebody with a gun.
“You can deploy Peace Corps to areas to maintain peace. For example, you cannot deploy police to monitor peaceful demonstrations. You can now assign those responsibilities to the Peace Corps to maintain peace required,” he explained.
The lawmaker also said members of the Peace Corps could be deployed to traffic areas instead of deploying “the police with a gun.”
The Peace Corps can do so many things to relieve the police and army – which we are lacking in terms of numbers, he said.
He said because they will receive basic security training, they can easily be converted to either Nigeria Police or Nigeria Army and other security agencies
The only thing that will be lacking is the use of arms, he added.
“It’s true. It’s not only about funding the security agencies but even funding the country’s budget is a challenge.
“But security is very important and we know that we are lacking in that sector. And I think the Peace Corps can play a role in that. That is the reason why I reintroduced the budget,” he said.
With the reintroduction of the bill, lawmakers are expected to debate the provisions of the bill all over again. And should the National Assembly pass it, it will be transmitted to the president for assent.
It is, however, not clear if Mr Buhari would assent to it.