In this piece, BODE OLAGOKE, takes a look at the recent presentation to the Senate Committee on Interior on the need for the establishment of the National Unity and Peace Corps (NUPEC) by Dr. Chinedu S. Nneji.
The challenges facing Nigeria as a nation call for all hands to be on deck, most especially the challenge of insecurity, peaceful co-existence and stability among the people and their communities, unemployment, neighbourhood watch and nation building among others.
One organisation that has put forward several suggestions on how to address some of the said challenges is the National Unity and Peace Corps (NUPEC).
In searching for solutions to the aforementioned challenges and others, the Senate Committee on Interior recently listened to a presentation by the Commandant General of NUPEC, Dr, Chinedu S. Nneji.
For Nneji, the objectives of NUPEC include; mediation among warring parties that leads to peaceful coexistence, promote social and economic development by involving members of volunteers in the scheme through working with government, schools, nongovernmental organisations among others.
The organisation also has as part of its objectives to enlist, provide distinct training and orientation of unemployed youths, prevention of conflict eruption that may lead to violence crisis and training the youths to advance the course of peace-building across the country.
The NUPEC if passed into law has vision to “to establish a harmonious society and prosperous nation in a plural and multi ethnic and multi religious nation called Nigeria, in which diversity is recognized as a source of strength and as an asset in which mutual respect and dignity of all people of Nigeria prevails to achieve durable peace, growth, development and prosperity.”
Speaking during public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Interior at the National Assembly last week, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Kashim Shettima, in his opening remarks, said the reason behind the legislative proposal among others, is to reposition and streamline the institu-tional framework of the organisation by strengthening its capacity to provide community policing.
In doing this, according to Shettima, when officially recognised and regularised by government through passage of its establishment bill, will offer community service to the citizenry, develop, empower and provide gainful employment for the youths.
“This bill is very important in view of the fact that the Federal Government had made frantic efforts in curbing the menace of insecurity, terrorism, banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping and other vices across Nigeria, without expected return of peace in our land,” he stressed.
In his presentation, Dr. Nneji told the Senate Committee said it is desire of National Unity and Peace Corps to promote peace and stability in the country.
Nneji said NUPEC has capacity to resolve any crisis, economic deficiencies, iliteracy and poverty and ultimately leadthe country to self-reliant and a positive state.
“Nigeria is made up of over 300 ethnic groups therefore there is need for integration in order to promote peace, understanding and progress in the society.
“National integration is the awareness of a common identity among the citizens of a country. It is Unity in diversity. This means that although we belong to different castes, religions and regions and speak different languages, we recognize the fact that we are all one.
“What has been the bane of our underdevelopment and growth are lack of National interest, ethnicity, tribalism, religion, illiteracy, corruption in high places etc. Nigeria is a vast and diverse country with different languages spoken in different parts of the country. Every region has its own regional or local languages. This is why communal clashes and violence take place in different parts of our country almost on daily bases affecting mostly the innocent and vulnerable ones.
“Our Nation is in dare need of unpretentious unity and unconditional and formidable integration.
“Therefore, in view of the above, we all, irrespective of ethnic, religion, tribe or political affiliation should be united to form an indivisible nation through our thinking and activities. On the concept of national development, we must forget all forms of differences and discriminations and come together as one.
“The aspect of securing our porous borders and rural communities in synergy with the appropriate bodies, checking the influx of aliens into our border communities who enjoy just little or no security at all, working with traditional and community leaders as well as the community youths.
“In carrying out this function, criminal tendencies, movement and activitles of the people, especially the youths in the community would be monitored and control, all aliens apprehended would be handed over to the appropriate bodies (the Immigration Department and the Police) for thelr necessary action,” Dr. Nneji said.
On whether the proposed agency should bear fire-arms, Nneji said the fact that officers and men of NUPEC would be engaged in border and community patrol, monitoring and control, there is that possibility of encountering terrorist, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, coommunity clashes and farmers/herdsmen clashes and so on, it is imperative that they bear Arms to counter any unexpected ugly situation to control the situation and defend themselves.
“For this reasons, we are requesting that officers and men of the Agency be allowed to bear Arms.”
On revenue generation, the leader of NUPEC said for the government at all levels, “we are requesting that, the new agency be mandated to carry out or be involved in the Auctioning of Government properties, Vehicles and Goods for the purpose of rendering good accountability and revenue generation for both the three arms of the Government.”
On the issue of training, Nneji said when given legal backing its officers and men should be made to undergo military and paramilitary training, especially in the areas of Fire-Arms operation and use, combat and intelligent training and any other necessary training that will prepare and enable the Agency’s officers deliver efficient and effective service delivery to the Nation.
“It is of great desire and importance that an academy be established for the training of officers and men of the new agency (NUPEC) on courses that are relevant to their functions and so as to enable the Agency deliver its mandate optimally as expected of it.”
When asked to speak on the benefits of establishment the National Unity and Peace Corps, Dr. Nneji “First of all, it will leave an indelible legacy for our dear President, His Excellency, MuhammaduBuhari, his administration and the Party (the APC) just as the establishment of “National Road Safety Corps” and “Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps” left for our former presidents (Ibrahim GbadamosiBabanGida and OlusegunObasanjo) respectively.
“It is an already-made platform for the fulfillment of the President’s promise of creating a million jobs for our hopeless teeming youths on our streets.
“It will get our children off the street and back to school once again as we have entered into collaboration with UBEC on monitoring and control of Out-of-School Children.
“Very many of our youths would be gainfully employed as we already have strength of over 100,000 and are in all the 36 States including FCT and the 774 LGAS of the Federation.
“It will generate revenue for the Nation through its nationalengagement such as management and control of the proposed new toll-gate system, environmental management and control.
“It will complement and strengthen the service delivery efficiency of other internal security agencies.
“It will give our local communities, royal fathers and traditionalrulers a sense of security and belonging.
“It will instill in ourj youths the sense of discipline and purpose,thereby eradicating their incessant indulgence on illicit drugs abuse, prostitution and other negatives social vices, especially in our institution of higher learning.”
Analysts and some security experts, however believe that no effort is rather too little and should be ignored in identifying permanent solutions to several challenges confronting Nigeria as a Nation.
It is believe that an awakening spirit of nationalism and love for the country in the hearts of the Nigerian citizens through an organisation like NUPEC should be brought about quickly as a major effort to achieve the much talked about national peace and unity.