A report by Vanguard has detailed how most members of the National Assembly are planning to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s powers to pass the Peace Corps bill.
Last week, President Buhari had informed the National Assembly vi a letter, that he was withholding his assent on the bill due to paucity of funds and duplication of duties.
But Nigerian federal lawmakers apparently see things differently and they will this week take a daring step to challenge the president according to the report.
Sources quoted report say the lawmakers would take decisive action to override President Buhari’s rejection of the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill, which they laboured to pass last year and transmitted to the presidency before the end of 21017.
One of the lawmakers quoted in the report under the condition of anonymity, said the leadership of the National Assembly were disappointed by the decision of the executive to jettison the bill, which the lawmakers consider as a ‘priority’ to boost their political mileage in the forthcoming election.
The lawmaker pointed out that the NPC bill meant a lot to members of the legislature given the number of their constituents they had already ‘secured employment forms for’ with a lot of money.
The official said they had the number required by law to overturn Buhari’s rejection of the bill and make it an act of the Parliament as was the case with the Niger Delta Development Commission in 2000 when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo withheld assent to the bill.
His words: “I can tell you that the NPC bill is like a referendum on most of the lawmakers in Nigeria and we will prove to the presidency that this bill cannot be thrown away just like that.
“If we fail to make it to become law and give legal backing to the Nigerian Peace Corps, most of our members would have unwittingly dug their political graves in many states of the country.”
Another lawmaker from the northeast revealed that the leadership of the National Assembly had already mobilized support from both the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition People’s Democratic Party to prepare for the showdown with the presidency.
However, when contacted, the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Abdulrazaq Namdas, played down on the move to counter President Buhari on the rejected bill, saying that they were studying the bill.
He went on to say it was only after studying the president’s rejection letter that the National Assembly would take necessary action.
“It is after we have exhaustively scanned through Buhari’s letter rejecting the bill that we can take a definite action on the matter,” Namdas said.
Similarly, the spokesman for the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, vowed the Senate would do what the constitution specifies once the president refuses assent to the Peace Corps Bill.
His words: “The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for what should be done if a bill has been passed by the National Assembly, transmitted to the president for assent and he fails to do that. I think that was what was done on the issue of the NDDC Bill for example.
“So in this case, as much as many of us are aligned to the need to have the Peace Corps and we believe that it will add to provide another layer of our security system it should be allowed.
“Remember the bill says that the agency is not going to be part of the interior ministry but that of youths and it is designed actually to help to support the youths in so many ways through engagements, volunteerism and many other things.
“For me, the Peace Corps as a very good thing; it is not new to Nigeria but it is happening in many other countries and that was why we approved it in the first place.”
Meanwhile, the council of commandants and Board of Trustees of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) have called on President Buhari to reevaluate and reconsider his decision to withhold his assent to the Peace Corps bill.
They made the call at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday, March 2, arguing that there was no security agency in Nigeria that was currently undertaking the functions ascribe to Peace Corps in the said bill.
Speaking on behalf of the organisation, the national commandant, Dr Dickson Akoh said the bill does not conflict with that of the functions of any existing security agency in the country.