Nigeria has threatened to withdraw its membership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) if the regional body does not suspend the ongoing recruitment exercise as recently directed in the 2022 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
Nigeria’s representatives at the ECOWAS Parliament issued the threat when some principal officers in the regional bloc allegedly defied the directives and embarked on the illegal process of recruiting their relatives and cronies.
The lawmakers recall the huge financial commitments which Nigeria makes to the body amid its internal security challenges and said there was no commensurate return on investment for Nigeria in ECOWAS for all that the country has done and is doing for the region since its inception in 1975.
This development is coming on the heels of recent lopsided recruitment exercise at the ECOWAS parliament which was discovered to be manifestly skewed to serve the personal interest of other member states to the exclusion of Nigeria.
Leader of the Nigerian delegation and Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, who is also the First Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Ahmed Idris Wase, said it had become imperative that Nigeria reviews its relevance and membership of the bloc.
“If you are in a system, and you are not getting the right results, where you are investing 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,” 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.”
The Nigerian Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, Musa Nuhu, also wrote to the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, on what he termed the the nepotistic employment scandal rocking ECOWAS.
The letter from Nuhu was dated July 20, 2022, and entitled, “Formal complaint about unfair treatment and confirmation of staff at the ECOWAS parliament.”
The letter reads in part: “I have the honour to refer to our verbal discussion on the above subject matter and formally inform you that the attention of the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the ECOWAS Commission has been drawn to a number of complaints by Nigerian staff working at the ECOWAS Parliament. The grievances border around stagnation and overlooking of staff already working in the parliament in favour of outsiders in the ongoing recruitment for divisional heads and professional staff.
“This action directly contravenes the recommendations of the 30th meeting of the ECOWAS Administrative and Finance Committee as well as the position of the Council of Ministers, which directed that internal candidates should be prioritised in filling existing vacancies in ECOWAS institutions, as recommended in the Staff Skills Audit Report.
“The Honourable Speaker may kindly wish to note that the mission has examined the complaints of the staff of the parliament based on existing staff regulations as well as the decisions and guidelines given by the AFC and Council of Ministers for ECOWAS institutions to carry out the recruitment and found that their grievances are genuine.
“Therefore, as you rightly observed during our discussions, recruiting individuals outside the system to place them above the existing staff would only lead to discontent, demoralisation and continued stagnation of the staff. This will inevitably affect the overall performance of the Parliament.”