James Emejo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday declined presidential assent to the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) (Establishment) Bill 2017, which was recently passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.
In a letter to the National Assembly explaining his refusal to sign the legislation into law, the president cited security and financial concerns for his decision.
Buhari, in a copy of the correspondence, dated January 25 and addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, which was read at plenary, offered specific reasons why he declined his assent.
One of his concerns bothered on security, regarding the proposed Corps being authorised to undertake activities currently being performed by extant security and law enforcement agencies.
Buhari also cited the financial implications of funding the establishment and operations of the proposed Corps, given the current fiscal challenges confronting his administration as another reason he withdrew his assent to the bill, which had become a subject of controversies and speculation in recent times.
However, until now, the bill looked set to sail when considered against the backdrop of Buhariâ€™s avowed agenda to create jobs for the teeming jobless youths, but increasing antagonism against its proponent, Dickson Akoh, who had been indicted by security reports, dimmed the billâ€™s chances to see daylight.
Earlier this month, THISDAY had exclusively reported of palpable fear among members of the Nigerian Peace Corps following the continued delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the establishment bill for the corps into law, months after both chambers of the National Assembly passed the legislation into law.
THISDAY gathered that the worry among anxious members of the Corps who had since been mobilised and attending period parades in the hope of the passage of the bill by the president followed suspicion that the bill may have been politicised to be used as bargaining chip towards the 2019 general election.
THISDAY also reliably gathered from insider sources that the newly mobilised recruits were tasked to pay a minimum of N10, 000 which is expected to be used to lobby the quick passage of the bill at least in the life of the current administration.
But despite Buhariâ€™s refusal to sign the bill into law, the National Assembly still has constitutional provisions to veto the presidentâ€™s decision and pass the bill into law by a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.