By joyce Remi- Babayeju
The Nigerian Government have threatened to withdraw it’s membership from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS regional economic bloc over allegations of nepotic activities in recruitment of staff.
The Nigeria representatives at the parliament of (ECOWAS) issued this threatened today as the lawmakers bemoaned the huge financial commitments Nigeria makes to the body while relegating funding its internal security challenges.
The lawmakers noted that despite Nigeria’s financial commitment to the regional body there is no return on investment for Nigeria citing the recent lopsided recruitment exercise at the ECOWAS parliament where Nigeria was excluded as a result of the personal interest of member states.
Meanwhile, last month, at the 2022 First Ordinary Session of the Parliament, the lawmakers had passed a resolution to suspend the recruitment exercise, after Nigerian representatives at the parliament alleged discrimination and lopsidedness in the recruitment of workers at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.
A Nigerian lawmaker at the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon . Awajim Abiante had moved the motion to suspend the recruitment and promotion in the ECOWAS Parliament. The motion was seconded by Sen. Biodun Olujimi, a Nigerian Lawmaker at the Parliament, supported by Hon. Yousoufa Bida and concurrently agreed by the house.
Abiante, who represents Andoni/OpoECOWAS bo/Nkoro federal constituency in the House of Representatives said, “The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament is duty bound to respect the resolutions of Parliament.
The Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, who is also the first Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Ahmed Wase told newsmen that it has become imperative that Nigeria review its relevance and membership of the regional bloc owing to discrimination in employment pattern.
Wase said, “If you are in a system, and you are not getting the right results, where you are investigating your money, it pays best to walk out of the union. In a situation where we are having an infrastructural deficit and witnessing security challenges, why should we continue to invest our money where it will not benefit our country. Yes, we will pull out if we don’t get the desired result from this.”
“This action directly contravenes the recommendations of the 30th meeting of the ECOWAS Administrative and Finance Committee as well as the position5+1 of the Council of Ministers, which directed that internal candidates should be prioritized in filling existing vacancies in ECOWAS institutions, as recommended in the Staff Skills Audit Report.”
Honourable Wase complained that Nigeria contributed over 60 percent of ECOWAS funding comes from Nigeria and called for transparency in running affairs of the block.
“We have staffers who are of Nigerian origin that may have done better or progressed rapidly in their career if they were within the bureaucracy of the Nigeria Nigerian civil service. Their colleagues and contemporary in the Nigerian civil service are now directors and even permanent Secretaries and those of them in ECOWAS institutions have stagnated for years. They are not promoted because they are engaged as casual staff. We cannot subject these staff to remain at the same level for more than 10 years. ECOWAS employed them as casual staff, and kept them as casual staff for that long.
“It offends the International Labour Organization (ILO), Convention on Forced Labour. I was an activist and a unionist, before joining politics. We cannot keep an employee for more than six months on a casual basis, it is against international law. But here we have kept them for a number of years, up to nine years, it is inhuman, Wade emphasized.
The Nigerian Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, Musa Nuhu, had also written to the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Tunis, over the nepotistic employment scandal rocking ECOWAS.
The letter dated July 20, 2022, and titled, “Formal complaint about unfair treatment and confirmation of staff at the ECOWAS parliament.”
He said “we are asking for justice not just for Nigerians alone, but for the entire ECOWAS community. That is what MPs are asking for. There are few countries that want to run ECOWAS like a cabal but we will not tolerate that.”