By Winifred Bulus
Kaduna (Nigeria) — Recruits into the National Unity and Peace Corps in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria, have accused the command of asking candidates to pay money in order to get ranks.
A recruit who spoke with AFRICA PRIME NEWS expressed bitterness and disappointment in the State Command for already indulging in corrupt practices, even before the Nigerian President, signs the bill into law.
“It is bad enough that I had to pay the sum of 40,000. Asking me to pay for a rank is insulting because I have a degree in accountancy and think I deserve an appropriate rank when the time comes. Some of my counterparts have made payments and most of them are O level holders.
“I feel exploited. I wanted to get my deployment letter and was told to pay for it, the whole thing was frustrating and I told them I would not pay.” I decided to report this to one of the officers and he told me if he was in my shoes, he would be thinking of how to pay for a rank. I was disappointed.
“I also had some confusion during my registration for the training. I got a form for Peace Corps of Nigeria and was told I had to train under Nigeria Unity and Peace Corps. There is a lot of confusion concerning this whole arrangement. Well, I hope the whole thing works in my favour,” he said.
An Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) holder, currently undergoing training with the Corps in Kaduna has confided in AFRICA PRIME NEWS that she paid N120,000 for assigning her a rank.
She said, I had to sell my fridge and other items to raise the amount so as to get a higher rank when the posting is out.
“I am not regretting paying for it, I know overtime I will recoup my money..
When contacted, Kaduna State Commandant for Peace Corps of Nigeria, Patriot Sunday Baye, told AFRICA PRIME NEWS that he has been confronted with complaints of such allegations, but assured that his team has not been a part of the said corruption.
He said, “There is a difference between ‘National Unity and Peace Corps’ and the ‘Peace Corps of Nigeria’.
“National Unity and Peace Corps is taking money from candidates on grounds of assigning ranks to them – this is ruining the reputation of ‘Nigerian Peace Corps’ (the new name approved by National Assembly having passed the bill seeking the establishment of the body).
Peace Corps of Nigeria says it has written a petition against the National Unity and Peace Corps.
Mr. Baye also said Peace Corps of Nigeria has no hand in asking candidates to pay money for ranks.”
The Kaduna State Commandant of the National Unity and Peace Corps, Victoria Makama, who said she was attending a seminar in Abuja, at the time of the call, also denied the allegations in few words, “No, that is not true.”
There was a rumour that National Assembly has merged the National Unity and Peace Corps and the Peace Corps of Nigeria to form the Nigerian Peace Corps.
A local media had quoted the Nigerian boss of the Peace Corps, Dickson Akoh saying, “The Peace Corps Bill is very clear, the Senate passed the National Unity and Peace Corps Bill alongside ours.”
“He added that the National Assembly passed the Peace Corps of Nigeria Bill as Nigeria Peace Corps with provision in clause 37 (g) that any organisation, body or association that demonstrate interest in being member should approach the Peace Corps of Nigeria.
Meanwhile the National Unity and Peace Corps led by Chinedu Nneji, and Nigerian Peace Corps, led by Dickson Akoh are at war for leadership and supremacy.
Nneji goes by the rank, Commandant General, while Akoh prefers to be called National Commandant, and the two bodies are battling over the right name to be adopted by the merged unit.
Debating on the issue of supremacy, Nneji says, “As a matter of fact, there is no capacity of anybody heading Peace Corps that will match my own because if I give you my track record, my qualification in the university, you will see that you are talking to someone who groomed himself as a leader.
“I left the university in 1996 and I served with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) here in Abuja. I completed my service in 1998 and I went back to do my Masters Degree Programme from 1998-2000. I completed in 2000 and remained in Abuja. I completed my PhD until 2011 before I secured my PhD. But within this period, I was running my consultancy programme with the World Bank.”
Akoh defended his position saying, “I have been working for the Peace Corps of Nigeria since 1989 and no neophyte should take over the running because it is capable of rocking the boat.
The Act establishing Nigerian Peace Corps has adopted more of his bill than that of Nneji’s National Unity and Peace Corps; what was dissolved is Peace Corps Nigeria to form Nigerian Peace Corps.