ECOWAS Committee Chair Puts Record Straight

By Sall Tee Jay

Following allegations on Nigerian newspapers that Nigerians who applied for position in the ECOWAS Parliament for the Level P5 positions were dropped, the Chairman of the Committee on Political Affairs, Peace and Security and former Vice Chairman of the Administration and Finance Committee of the said Parliament, Senator Edwin Snoowe (head of the Liberian delegation in the Parliament), explained to journalists that no action has been taken on the recruitment of level P5 staff and no decision reached by the plenary session of the Parliament, as no motion for vote on same was done.

According to Senator Edwin Snowe, no interview has been done for P5 positions for which Nigerians in the Parliament applied. Insinuation that the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt. Hon Sidie Mohamed Tunis, promoted staff was also debunked by the senator, who said that it is not within the prerogative of the Speaker to promote Staff from P4-P5. He furthered that the regulation provides for a competitive process that all citizens of the ECOWAS Community should compete for, and stressed that a Committee known as the Management Succession Committee, headed by the President of the ECOWAS Commission is empowered to supervise the process (Ref: Chapter 5, Article 20 of the Revised ECOWAS Staff Regulation).

Senator Snoowe furthered that for P1-P4 positions, a Nigerian Recruitment Firm was contracted to do the long listing and submit same to the Parliament. Following the compilation of the Short listing by the Advisory Committee on Recruitment, Appointment and Promotion of Professional Staff, which is appointed by Law (Chapter 5, Article 21 of the Revised ECOWAS Staff Regulation), 28 of 70 of those shortlisted, Constituting 40%, were Nigerians.

He furthered that the ECOWAS Speaker,Rt. Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, has no interference with the work of the Committee, and each candidate is considered a citizen of the Community and should be treated equally according to Chapter 3 Article 9 of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations, which provides the basis upon which Staff Members are recruited.

On the area of the recruitment of level P5, Chairman Snowe explained that Speaker Tunis did no wrong, as no vote was taken, adding that the Presiding Officer of the meeting was the Deputy Speaker and had the right to move for vote to be taken, but no such motion was made. He maintained that all those who had applied were all qualified for the positions, but no interview was done.

On allegation that a Resolution was passed by the Plenary to suspend recruitment, Senator Edwin Snowe disclosed that no resolution was passed by the Plenary, furthering that presiding on that day, was the 1st Deputy Speaker, who denied the passage of any resolution and adopted that the Bureau will take seize of the matter. A recording of the proceeding will be provided. After the concerns raised have been addressed by the Bureau, then they will bring their recommendations to the plenary for voting. He stressed that though the Bureau is one of the top authorities in the Parliament but maintained that the Plenary is the highest body that takes all decisions, and decisions are all taken by votes in the plenary.

Senator Snowe further explained that Nigeria is the only country that has two permanent seats in the Parliament: the Chair of the Finance Committee and another Committee. Also, Nigeria has been allocated the Deputy Speaker position in the event that it is not the holder of the rotating Speaker seat. He also clarified that every country in the ECOWAS Community takes the position of Speaker on a rotational basis, but is done alphabetically. So, whenever Nigeria is not the Speaker of the Commission, it will automatically hold the Deputy Speaker position. This, he said was an agreement reached by the English speaking countries. This decision, he continued, was reached in respect of the exemplary role that Nigeria has played in the community.  He also disclosed that the ECOWAS has 906 staff and out of this number, Nigeria has 416, constituting 46% of the staff compliment. Parliament, he furthered has 73 staff, of which 35 are Nigerians, in addition to that number, there are 377 more Nigerians that includes Consultants, Security Guards, Coopers and Drivers that are being paid by ECOWAS.

Senator Edwin Snowe stressed that ECOWAS Parliament will not be used by politicians to get re-elected. He commended the magnanimity of the Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Rt. Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, in handling the affairs of the Community and reiterated that the Speaker had done no wrong, as no vote has been taken by the plenary on the matter, nor was there any motion for vote to be taken.

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