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ECOWAS Parliament: Nigerian delegation threatens withdrawal from regional body

Nigerian Delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament threaten withdrawal of membership from regional legislature over alleged lopsided recruitment

Nigerian representatives at the parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have threatened to withdraw Nigeria’s membership from the legislature of the regional economic bloc.

The lawmakers raised concern over the huge financial commitments that Nigeria makes to the body while relegating funding to its internal security challenges. They further complained that despite the country’s huge investment, there was no commensurate return from ECOWAS for all it has done and continues to do in the region.

The development is coming against the background of alleged lopsided recruitments at the ECOWAS Parliament reportedly skewed to serve the personal interest of member states to the exclusion of Nigeria.

In June, at the 2022 First Ordinary Session of the Parliament, the lawmakers 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.

The motion to suspend the recruitment and promotion in the ECOWAS was moved by Nigerian lawmaker, Awaji Abiante, at the ECOWAS Parliament. The motion was seconded by Senator Biodun Olujimi, another Nigerian lawmaker at the Parliament, supported by Yousoufa Bida, and concurrently agreed by the house.

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Abiante, who represents Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, Rivers State in the House of Representatives said “The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament is duty bound to respect the resolutions of Parliament. If he does not respect the resolution of Parliament, I wonder which Parliament he is heading.

So, it is left for him to answer where he stands. You know, probably some of us are not well experienced, relative to parliamentary requirements and procedures. Therefore, if one is not experienced, we could expect this kind of action. But the Speaker is duty bound to obey the resolution of Parliament.

He is first amongst equals, but we are all members of Parliament, and by certain requirements, somebody has to lead. So, if he is the Speaker today, it does not make him senior or superior to any member of parliament.

And who is he speaking for? He is speaking for the entirety of all of us and if we have come and raised issues, and resolutions taken, saying stop this, he is duty bound to obey. So, whatever they had done, we the parliamentarians see it as an effort in complete futility.”

READ ALSO: ECOWAS Commission pledges support to regional parliament

Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, who is also the first Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Ahmed Idris Wase in an interview with VANGUARD remarked that it has become imperative for Nigeria to review its relevance and membership in the bloc.

Wase reiterated that Nigeria has done so much for ECOWAS, explaining that over 60 percent of ECOWAS funding comes from Nigeria.

“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,” 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,” he added.

Nigeria’s 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 from Nuhu was dated July 20, 2022, and titled, “Formal complaint about unfair treatment and confirmation of staff at the ECOWAS Parliament.”

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“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.”

Lizzy Chirkpi
Lizzy Chirkpi
Lizzy Chirkpi has a BA in French and is a senior reporter at OrderPaper. She has keen interest in photojournalism and video documentary. She's also a writer and author of a book, "Pourquoi Le Francais." She likes reading, traveling and watching movies.
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