Lawmakers representing Nigeria at the ECOWAS Parliament have threatened to withdraw their membership following what they said was a breach of a resolution passed by the parliament to suspend all recruitment processes and other irregularities.
This is coming following the allegations of a lopsided recruitment exercise at the ECOWAS Parliament which were allegedly skewed to serve the personal interest of member states excluding Nigeria.
Some Nigerian lawmakers who spoke to correspondents of the parliament in Abuja said that during the 2022 First Ordinary Session of the parliament which was held from 9 June to July 3, a resolution was passed to suspend all recruitments.
They said that the decision was made following several reports of undue process and lopsidedness in the exercise. They resolved that the exercise will be resumed following the outcome of the audit report.
The Nigerian lawmakers also cited the huge financial commitments that Nigeria makes to the body while relegating funding to its internal security challenges.
They said that there is no commensurate return on investment for Nigeria in ECOWAS for all the country has done and is doing for the region.
The Deputy Speaker, Nigeria House of Representatives, Idris Wase, who is also the first Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament told journalists that it has become imperative that Nigeria review 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.”
According to Mr Wase, the Nigerian constitution in Section 14 (4) provides that, the composition of government shall be in a manner that reflects the federal character.
“Now, we have people who possibly have one opportunity and they want to bring in their relatives, and their siblings against the larger interest of our community.
“Common judgment teaches us that when you have nations coming together, we should do the distribution in such a way that justice and fairness take the centre stage.
“If Nigeria had not asked for 60 per cent benefit in ECOWAS before now, it must have been a mistake “because our dividend should be equivalent to our contribution and investment.
“And if that is not done and the little that we have in the system is being humiliated, we will not take it.
“From the National Assembly of Nigeria, we are also going to probe our Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Finance Minister who is giving the money and the commissioner who is representing us at the commission.
“We will expose everybody from the Nigerian parliament and sanctions will follow. We will sanction anybody found wanting in the process,” Mr Wase said.
Also, Awaji-Inombek Abiante, the Nigerian lawmaker representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro federal constituency in the House of Representatives said, “The Speaker of 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,” Mr Abiante said.
The Nigerian Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, Musa Nuhu, had also written to the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Tunis, over the alleged nepotistic employment scandal rocking ECOWAS.
The letter from Mr Nuhu was dated 20 July and titled, “Formal complaint about unfair treatment and confirmation of staff at the ECOWAS parliament.”
Mr Nuhu in his letter wrote, “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.”
The Secretary General of the Parliament, John Azumah of Ghana, when contacted, said he is unaware of any audit report that talked about employment and promotion.
“I don’t know where they got that information from that they were talking, but you know that on the floor of the parliament, you cannot stop them.
“There is no audit report like that. It is true that ECOWAS did a skill audit some time ago, but it was inconclusive. The skill audit that was done for the whole ECOWAS institution was inconclusive.
“So, if you went and were extracting information and you got something from staff, you are looking for your interest, sometimes they will give you half information, because of their interest. They would not give you the full information, then you just pick it as an MP and you start talking.
“The staff will tell you that this is happening at the commission, this is happening at the court and this is happening at the parliament. It is not true, just because of their interest,” Mr Azumah said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the motion to suspend the recruitment and promotion in the ECOWAS Parliament was moved by Mr Abiante.
The motion was seconded by Biodun Olujimi, a Nigerian lawmaker in the parliament, supported by Yousoufa Bida and agreed by the house