Monday , 15 April 2024

Promotion Saga: Nigerian staff of ECOWAS seek Tinubu’s intervention in addressing the persistent injustice they face regarding promotions and recruitment within the organization

There are some anomalies observed in the just concluded promotional recruitment exercise. The reliable source insisted that since some of the actors in the unfolding saga are in the services of the Community, he will like to exercise some degree of discretion.

He said that Nigerians are being denied promotion to jobs that they are entitled and are eminently qualified for in ECOWAS by some top statutory officers who turn around and give such jobs to citizens of their own countries through unfair practices disguised as interviews.

Case in point, a managerial position that was meant for a Nigerian at the ECOWAS Parliament which was unjustly given to a Guinea Bissau citizen. The Nigerian in question headed her division for 22 years. In fact, she set up the division and ran its affairs till recently. The interview was supposed to be a formality for confirming her on the job. This is normally the practice in ECOWAS for staff who have acted in a position for a long time. The practice is also in line with a Nov/Dec 2021 Decision of ECOWAS AFC, ratified by the Council of ECOWAS Ministers of Foreign Affairs on giving priority, during shortlisting and interviews, to staff members who have acted in an advertised position for more than five years.

From our investigation, the staff has worked at the ECOWAS Parliament for over 21 years as a P4 officer (equivalent of Assistant Director in Civil Service) without promotion. The P5 position (equivalent of Deputy Director) that she interviewed for was advertised at least three times in the last fifteen years and each time she applied so that she can be confirmed on the job. But each time the process aborted halfway.

In 2020, another country tried to give the position to a citizen of their country but Nigeria intervened and stopped the process. However, we realized that Nigeria was not represented in the composition of the management succession committee that eventually interviewed the staff. It is worth mentioning that the only Nigerian statutory officer in ECOWAS is the Commissioner for Internal Services, a non-scoring member of the panel.

From our findings, the panel that interviewed the Nigerian staff member was chaired by the Auditor General of ECOWAS (an ECOWAS commissioner from Guinea Bissau) and coincidentally, the position was given to a citizen of his country (with lesser years of experience than the Nigerian). By so doing, the Guinea Bissau lady automatically becomes the supervisor of her former superior (from a very junior subordinate position).

Employees in ECOWAS are not necessarily promoted on merit or seniority. Junior staff are openly promoted over their superiors in ECOWAS Institutions, in most cases the victims are Nigerians. This anomaly has caused so much frustration for staff who have worked in the organization for several years.

We have it on good authority that the Guinea Bissau staff was smuggled into the list of interviewees just two days to the interview by the director of human resources of ECOWAS who is also a citizen of her country Guinea Bissau. Apparently, she was asked to make sure she attends the interview because of their country’s interest. We were also reliably told that the lady first turned down the offer because she just got a job with the Parliament and as such, was not interested. But both the Director of Human Resources and the Auditor General of ECOWAS admonished her for refusing to attend the interview. Under normal conditions, somebody who has just been employed and who is still on probation should not have been allowed to compete for a higher job meant for internal candidates.

What this means is that the interest of our country Nigeria does not matter in ECOWAS.

We were also reliably informed that an ECOWAS Parliament staff told some MPs (including some Nigerians) that he was present when a call came in from the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament (Sierra Leonian) to the former Secretary General, directing him to represent him at the managerial interview and to make sure that he marked down the Nigerian in order to ensure that she was not given the job. In fact, it is believed that the panel members were also told that the Nigerian was not the candidate of her Institution.

Meanwhile, as we mentioned earlier, the Nigerian staff in question set up the Division from inception and she was the first and only staff of that Division for several years. She covered various statutory meetings without any incidence of incompetence. Besides, all other participants at the interview were by far her juniors in the ECOWAS system. Meanwhile, in preparation for the position, the staff member was sent on various training, from 2013 to 2022, to places like France, Morocco, Ghana, to mention a few. 

Consequently, the group of ECOWAS Nigerians are calling on President Tinubu to urgently intervene in this matter in order to stop the blatant violation of the human rights of the Nigerian ECOWAS citizen. It is obvious that there is a smack of conspiracy amongst the members of the panel that interviewed her.

If we want to talk about illegalities, then we will bring to light the issue of the Speaker of Parliament who constantly employed his cronies to senior cadre positions without adhering to the rules guiding employments in ECOWAS. We as a news outlet believe that a fair working environment calls for same measures for every employee regardless of country of origin, language block, religion or gender.

Your Excellency Mr President it will be a slight to you and the entire nation that our citizens are being humiliated and violated under your watch. It is indeed an abomination for someone to work for over 22 years without a single promotion. What we will not do to our ECOWAS brothers should not be allowed to be done to our citizens right here in our country. An injustice to one is an injustice to all. Enough is enough.

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