There’s Nothing Peaceful About The Peace Corps Bill

Yes. Rather, it would have created lots of disaffection. Especially with the police which is fighting tooth and nail to prevent its emergence.

President Muhammadu Buhari refused to give assent to the Peace Corps Establishment bill which was passed by both chambers of the National assembly. Citing financial implications, the president thought it wise to not further add to an already weighty monthly wage bill. Almost immediately, the lawmakers have threatened to override whatever authority the president has to reject the bill. But their activism is not without curiosity.

With more than forty thousand youths already signed up with the peace corps, many of them already fleeced of amounts in the north of eighty thousand naira, the peace corps has played its game quite well. It has spent millions lobbying legislators as well as giving them slots in the scheme for their constituents. Obviously, there would be no reasons to reject the bill by our lawmakers. So it had smooth sailing.

Many of the jobless youths, whose dream of bagging Federal Government jobs looked so tantalizing, didn’t mind parting away with more thousands of naira. They were told all they needed more was a presidential assent, which automatically would turn them into salary earners. It was a classic case of extortion a case which the police has already looked into, murkily, nevertheless.

I spoke with many of the participants. Their response remained that they aren’t complaining about extortion. Who would? We live in a country where people pay as much as half a million naira to secure government jobs! And that’s where the real problem is.

It is not the business of government to provide jobs. Government CREATES jobs. Nigeria can never know anything close to development as long as government is the largest employer of labour, or its most pressing burden is payment of salaries. In any developed country, government creates jobs by making the environment conducive, providing power and infrastructure, and easing the tax burden on businesses. Apart from the fact that the civil service is actually a SERVICE, it shouldn’t be over bloated. But our country is ruled by greedy people who spend three times what it uses for capital projects on salaries and allowances.

Government service is an avenue for cheap, easy money. There is little accountability. And deep seated corruption. People who attain positions of influence in the civil service immediately become interested in acquiring vehicles, furnishing their offices and apartments, and stealing money. That’s what the civil service is all about in Nigeria. In fact, it is the oil lubricating the engine of corruption in Nigeria. If the civil service is sanitized, corruption would die naturally. However, the current state of things is actually very palatable for those interested in shortsighted pleasure at the expense of their children’s future.

That’s why adding tens of thousands of more workers to an already over bloated federal work force is not only a no brainer, but also hugely counterproductive. It is ridiculous that critical sectors of the government services are ironically understaffed. The health workers, the teachers and lecturers, and police. Yes, police.

The police may have been overzealous in their determination to stop the actualization of the Peace Corps bill, but they are absolutely right in their suspicions. The Peace Corps will only weaken the police, not complement it, like they claim. I have read the objectives of the corps, and I must say, I am absolutely disappointed in their sheer lack of direction. Topping the list is “providing jobs for teeming youths”. That’s ridiculous. Because if that’s the case, then they won’t need the Federal Government to staff (and pay) their members for them. Then they talk about providing security in schools and creating safe neighborhoods, and engendering communal peace. Oh, stop! You could as well have asked to displace the police entirely!

The Federal Road Safety Corp, FRSC, and The Nigeria Security And Civil Defence Corp, NSCDC; both are duplications of the Police. The police meanwhile has been left weakened and even marginalized by the creation of these corps. While some of their workers are actually doing a fine job, majority of them do next to nothing in fulfilling their core mandates. A visit to any NSCDC office, for example, will leave you shocked at the idleness that pervades the vicinity. Very little is done, and that, by very few. Some of these agencies only exist to “provide jobs”, which, sadly, has become government’s priority.

Duplicating the functions of the police at such a critical time will only create disaffections in the polity. We may not agree with President Buhari on many things. However, his decision to reject the Peace Corp bill is spot on. The peace corp would have brought no peace. And its time to put paid to the nonsense of turning personal ideas and projects to government responsibilities.

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