The decision-making scenario to be examined in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) case involves Nigeria 1983 expulsion of an estimated I million Ghanaians and an additional 1 million citizens from other West African countries illegally employed within its borders. 1 Nigeria played a primary role in the founding of the ECOWAS in 1975, contributes 32% toward the community's budget, and hosts the community's headquarters ( Falola and Ihonvbere, 1985: 141). In May 1979, the ECOWAS leadership signed a protocol providing for the "Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence, and Establishment." Nigeria led the campaign for swift ratification and implementation of the protocol, which entered into force May 20, 1980. However, in 1983, pressing economic, social, and political problems resulted in the government decision to deport alien workers, most of whom were citizens of Ghana and other West African countries, Nigeria's ECOWAS partners.
Although legal according to domestic immigration and ECOWAS law, the deportation is a blatant example of a member state's policy decision contravening the spirit of a regional economic community initiative, in this case the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence, and Establishment. The decision was made in a capricious fashion, without prior consultation with ECOWAS members, and resulted in extreme hardship for the deportees. This case reveals that immediate and specific economic, societal, and political difficulties deriving from the global oil glut of the early 1980s and resulting and concurrent societal and political instability superseded in the minds of Nigeria's leaders any concern that the expulsion order might negatively affect the regional economic organization.