…collection of signatures ongoing on Peace Corps
Some members of the House of Representatives have begun collation of signatures to veto President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent in rejecting the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill. New Telegraph investigation revealed that so far, 173 lawmakers have appended their signatures to the document, which is being coordinated by four lawmakers.
The President had, in a letter dated January 25, 2018 to the House, cited financial implications and duplication of duties of existing security agencies, as reasons for withholding his assent to the bill, which thousands of jobless youths have been patiently waiting for. A top member of the group from Rivers State, who spoke to New Telegraph on condition of anonymity, said they are hopeful that before the expiration of the 30-day window provided for in the constitution, they will be able to garner the required two-thirds majority to override the president’s assent. According to him, “We need just 240 members to overturn the table against him (president) and we are double sure that in the next two weeks, we will convince more members to join this movement. So far, I can confirm to you that we have 173 members already on our list and this is authentic.
“What we are doing is not about party or religion or region; it is about Nigeria; it is about the future of our youths who are roaming about the streets due to lack of jobs. “The Peace Corps is a veritable platform to create employment and reduce corruption in Nigeria. Mr. President cannot be telling Nigerians, ‘we don’t have money’ when the country is contributing to many bodies.”
Asked whether they will be able to get the required two-thirds in the Senate, the lawmaker expressed confidence that their colleagues in the upper chamber were working round the clock to secure the required number. “Our colleagues in the Senate are very much in tune with what we are doing; they are as concerned as we are because Nigerians are suffering; our youths are being held hostage by an insensitive government. I can assure you, we are going to get the two-thirds and we will go ahead and create the Peace Corps for our youths.”
The lawmaker, however, declined to disclose the identity of those who have appended their signatures to the paper, saying “we are keeping our list close to our hearts and we will not like to make it public now. But what I can assure you is that, there is a group, we have gotten 173 followers as at today and we are ready to override his (president’s) assent, and there is no going back.
At the appropriate time, we will make our identity known,” he stated. Another PDP lawmaker from Kogi State told New Telegraph that “they are lobbying and mobilising other lawmakers to ensure that Peace Corps becomes a reality.” “Just imagine the number of jobs it can create.
I must say Dickson Akoh (the commandant) has done a good job and we must encourage him,” he stated. The National Assembly is empowered by the provisions of section 58(5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, to override the President’s veto on Bills. While the House requires 240 members to make up its two-thirds, the 109-member Senate requires 81 members to veto the president’s assent. Section 58 (5) provides that “Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”
While Order 12(b)(c) of the Standing Orders and Rules of the House of Representatives (2016), also provides that the rejected Bill could be looked upon by the House (through a motion) and if supported by two-thirds of the Reps, the Bill is proclaimed law without the assent of the President. It will be recalled that after the president’s letter withholding his assent was read on the floor of the House by Speaker Yakubu Dogara last week, many lawmakers picked holes in the development and expressed the willingness to veto his refusal.
One of the lawmakers and chairman of the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) told journalists that the President’s refusal to assent to the Peace Corps bill was misguided and would rather aggravate the security challenges in the country. The lawmaker said the House was going to review the president’s decision and chart the way forward. According to Ossai, “If the reasons given by Mr. President are not germane, I will personally lead a lobbying process to make sure the House veto him.”
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