As the pressure on the President to sign the Peace Corps bill into law intensifies following increased malefactions by the Boko Haram sect and Fulani herdsmen, I have never agreed with President Buhari more than I do with his decision to withhold his assent.
Senator Shehu Sani just days ago called for Buhari to rescind his decision and deploy them to protect schools from gun men. A non-armed para-military outfit, protect schools from arm wielding terrorists? The senator is a man i admire but his position on the peace corps sounds pretty much same with that of everyone else calling for it; it just doesn’t make any sense.
It doesn’t even make any sense to still maintain the National Security and Civil Defence Corps. This much I wrote in an article titled ‘Cutting the cost of governance’ in support of then president-elect Buhari’s plan to cut costs. We can only indulge in these ‘luxuries’ when we have revamped the police force to at the very least, a presentable standard. It is very easy to understand why the Buhari government has borrowed N11 trillion in 3 years with practically nothing to show for it. It has misplaced priorities and that regrettably,has added a tinge of justifiably to even the most ludicrous causes. A peace corps advocate would be right to say the security challenges we are facing have overwhelmed our law enforcement agencies and that necessitates an urgent need to complement or supplement them.In some countries abroad, the responsibilities of what we have as the Federal Road Safety officials are carried out by police officers that have been trained in that regard.
Our focus should be on equipping the police force,recruiting more man power and providing the needed training instead of establishing a para-military outfit we would have to fund in these dire times.Senator Dino Melaye, at a plenary session of the senate on Wednesday, advised that the senate initiate measures to secure the two-third majority in both houses needed to override the assent of the president. He listed gainful employment of youths as one of the merits of passing the bill. At a time the government is struggling to pay salaries and is mortgaging the future of this country via hefty loans, it is absurd that a senator of the federal republic would want to us recruit hands by the thousands we won’t just pay salaries but also fund the organization that employs them with muti-billion naira allocations.
The Civil defence corps presented a N61.5 billion budget to the house of representatives in 2017.Just weeks ago, it requested N5 billion with the procurement of ‘anti-nuclear and biochemical threat’ equipment as the highlight of its intended purchases. That they deem that a priority best illustrates how much we give to bodies like this we don’t need to squander. Despite the subsequent arming of the corps, the police it is that have remained at the fore front of combating crime and securing lives. The establishment of the NSCDC hasn’t checked vandalization of our key installations or lightened the burden of the police force enough to deploy men to police posts in rural areas across the country that still have less than 4 men. I primarily reside in Kano, which happens to be the largest state in Nigeria. For many years now,most neighbourhoods in the metropolis have resorted to local vigilantes to protect them.In times of crisis, badly wounded victims of robbery attacks cannot get police escorts to hospitals, which is a prerequisite for medical attention because they need every officer.How has the establishment of the NSCDC whose main responsibilities,like President Buhari said are sought to be duplicated by the Peace corps,helped make the country a more secure place?.
It would be utter madness to add another para-military outfit to supposedly complement the police. If it were up to me, the NSCDC would have been long scrapped. The establishment of a peace corps shouldn’t even be an issue at all.We simply don’t need it.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.
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