Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe Junior of Liberia and a member of the Community Parliament said recruitment into any Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) institutions is very competitive; and seeking to know exactly when Nigerians were shortchanged as published in the media emanating from Nigerian lawmakers at the Community Parliament of a current recruitment.
According to him media houses in his country Liberia and other sub-regional countries have been calling him for an interview on threat by Nigeria to pull out of ECOWAS, and he was compelled to grant interview on the subject matter on Saturday, August 6, 2022 morning when a media house in Ghana called him on the subject matter.
“I have seen a lot of newspaper headlines coming from our colleagues from the Nigerian side of the Parliament raising a lot of issues that is creating dark cloud over the Community parliament, and as a member of the Community Parliament I think it is high time someone gives the other side of the story which is fast becoming a monologue, where we have one side giving misrepresentation of account of what is happening at the Parliament as we all know ECOWAS was founded on solidarity. I have read so many articles coming from members of the Nigerian delegation questioning the procedure of recruitment and Nigerians participation and involvement into the recruitment process misrepresenting decision coming from the plenary of the parliament”.
Chairman of the ECOWAS Committee on Political Affairs, Peace, Security and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) recounted that in the first four years in the Community parliament he was vice chair of the Committee on Finance and Administration and in those past four years a Senator from Nigeria was not only a chair to the committee but was a father figure who gave him a lot of insight into the day-to-day workings of the administration and that platform gave him the opportunity to understand a lot about the parliament.
“I understand the issue and I can defend them better to explain with facts devoid of sentiment to put the cards on the table and understand the facts. We are all politicians and we understand the facts when the decision of the administration is being misrepresented and that of the speaker of the Parliament, it’s unfair”.
Senator Snowe, questioned the purported resolution at the plenary of the 2022 First Ordinary Session in Abuja, with the Frist Deputy Speaker in the chair which halted recruitment. “I challenge any one to produce that it is not true, I have the recordings”.
He noted that he has served in the House of Representative for three terms in his home country, then elected to the Senate currently and not new to legislative politics, when politicians’ want vote when they are going for re-election we all know what it is.
According to him, when the issue came on the floor, MPs saw it, they just laughed because they knew where it was going. Nigeria have elections in next year February 2023 and someone just want to get elected and get on the ECOWAS parliament floor.
“We are fighting for Nigerian interest, it should not be at our expense and integrity, we have done enough about this matter and its time we put a stop to it”.
He further noted that it’s a Nigeria firm that was contracted by ECOWAS to take application from all community citizens then there is a short listing base on one’s ranking, then you go for interviews and the position in question they are talking about one have to understand the subject matter to talk about it.
“As I speak to you now there has not been recruitment for P5 positions; the recruitment is done at the level of the Commission not the parliament. What has been done in the parliament is for P1 P2 P3 void of political manipulation”.
He indicated that in 2016, then Speaker Rt. Hon Mustapha Cisse Lo came and said he could not work with the Acting Secretary General John Azumah. At the time he appointed late Dr Nelson; Ghanaians stood up in the Session and said they were here to defend their fellow Ghanaian since he was demoted to chief account.
“I was one of those who took the floor and said when we come here, we come here to defend the community. The only Liberian in the Parliament is at the Speaker’s office after four years he does not have a job there”.
“I am a big fan of Nigeria, I come from a country where today we enjoy peace and democracy in Liberia because of the sacrifices made by Nigerians. They came to Liberia put down their boots and brought peace to Liberia and at the parliament today as I speak to you there are 73 staff members in the parliament. Out of these, 35 are Nigerians. I know what Nigeria has done. Go and read our rules of procedure, we breach the rule of procedure and supplementary Act and gave Nigeria a deserving platform in the parliament. Those considerations made was not out of weakness, it’s for the appreciation for the role that Nigeria has played in the sub-region”.
In the case of the Chairman of Authority of Heads of states, it is rotational, same with the Community Parliament’s Speakership. Alphabetically, Liberia was at war then so it started from M, Mali it came to Niger, Nigeria, Senegal to Sierra Leone and what is interesting about the bureau membership of the parliament is that, they have agreed outside their own rules that if Nigeria is not chairing as speaker they should always serve as first deputy speaker, even though there is no rule that says that, they had decided on their own.
And you know what that does, it disenfranchise Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Ghana every four years the Francophone have two members on the bureau, Portuguese has one member that comes to the bureau every four year; Cape Veda and Guinea Bissau wait to come to the bureau.
But, Liberia, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone they have to wait for every 16 year. They have arrogated their slot to Nigeria; it is a decision by the English speaking countries which is not affecting the Francophone and Portuguese countries. Nigeria has a permanent seat on the bureau, it is not happing anywhere in the other arms.
“Go to the court of justice you do not see that, at the commission as a matter of fact Nigeria cannot be president of the Commission because it is host country same with the court of justice, but at the parliament they can serve as Speaker. If they are not Speaker, they have the First deputy post”.
Secondly, every country has a chairmanship at the committee currently with the exception of Guinea Bissau, because of what Nigeria has done in the sub-region they have been given two chairmanship positions, because they agreed they are a big country, it is because of their respect for what tax payers in Nigeria has done for the sub-region, that is why they have two slots; they chair the Finance Committee at the parliament second committee in addition.
“There is nothing in the supplementary Act which says Nigeria should be on the bureau; when I read on the news and every day newspapers are calling back home in Liberia on this recruitment issue and it is about time the population of Nigeria get to understand the issues better”.