By Yemi Itodo
President Muhammadu Buhari will speedily assent to the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill if passed by the National Assembly, a presidential aide has revealed.
Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the president on National Assembly matters (Reps), Hon. Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub, gave the hint Wednesday evening, while addressing Journalists at the House of Representatives.
The National Assembly had, in 2017, passed the Nigerian Peace Corps Establishment Bill, but the president withheld his assent, citing paucity of funds and duplication of duties of the already existing agencies, as reasons.
But just last month, the House of Representatives, through the Chiefwhip, Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno, reintroduced the Nigeria Peace Corps Bill, which has since passed second reading and waiting final passage.
Responding to questions on Wednesday, as to whether the president would assent to the Bill, if passed again by the National Assembly, El-Yakub said, “With the renewed relationship (between the executive and the legislature), I’m sure there will be more work that will lead to the expeditious passage of the Bill and of course, Mr. president will assent to all Bills passed by the National Assembly, which do not have conflict or reservations.
“I’m sure that many important Bills, including the one that you have mentioned (Nigeria Peace Corps) are being reintroduced; and some are even being re-introduced as executive Bills, like the PAC Bill, which was tabled on the floor of the Senate”, he stated.
El-Yakub stressed that, “Mr. president does not withhold assent to a Bill that is in the interest of this country; and certainly all bills that are sent to him be it non-executive Bill, they go through the same scrutiny and opinions are sought and whenever he declined his assent, he actually communicates the reasons to the National Assembly.
“And if those reasons are addressed, certainly Mr. President will assent to the Bill. But you will find that some Bills have flaws, some are technical issues, some are issues bordering on legality of the Bill to the extent that it conflicts with provisions of the constitution or a treaty that has been signed by the country, which means assenting to such a Bill will be a matter of conflict of interest. All these are looked at by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and relevant agencies that are stakeholders in that Bill”.
The House of Representatives had slated the Peace Corps Bill for final passage Thursday last week, but due to the debate on the general principles of 2020 Appropriation Bill, the Chiefwhip sought the leave of the House to step it down till later date.
After passage by the Reps, the Senate is expected to pass a concurrent vote on it before a clean copy of the Bill is sent to the President for assent.