By Egena Sunday Ode
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday cautioned that the ambition for Eco regional currency could be in ‘serious jeopardy,’ unless member states complied with agreed processes of reaching the collective goal.
The President also expressed concern over the decision of francophone countries that form the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) to replace the CFA Franc with Eco ahead of the rest of Member States.
Buhari stated these while delivering Nigeria’s position on the new regional currency at a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ).
A statement by the Special Adviser to the the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the meeting discussed the implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) and the ECOWAS Single Currency Agenda.
‘‘Your Excellencies, you all are familiar with the history of the Eco thus far, so I will not bore you with that. We reverted to a single track approach, giving up Eco which is the original idea of the WAMZ so the ECOWAS-wide programme could thrive.
‘‘In this regard, we have made remarkable progress including the adoption of the Exchange Rate regime, the name and model of the common Central Bank and the symbol.
‘‘We have urged our Ministers towards an expeditious path to success. It, therefore, gives me an uneasy feeling that the UEMOA Zone now wishes to take up the Eco in replacement for its CFA Franc ahead of the rest of the Member States.
‘‘This is in addition to deviating from the Community Act on a consistent attainment of convergence in the three years running up to the introduction of the currency, and our subsequent reinforcing directives.
‘‘I am informed that the French Ministers have approved a bill to reform the CFA Franc and most, if not all of the UEMOA Member States, have already passed legislations in their various Parliaments to that effect.
‘‘It is a matter of concern that a people with whom we wish to go into a union are taking these major steps without trusting us for discussion,’’ Buhari was quoted to have said.
President Buhari, who assured ECOWAS leaders of Nigeria’s commitment to the ECOWAS single currency, urged them to critically consider the recommendations made by the Convergence Council and take a common position to safeguard the West African Monetary Zone from the pitfalls of a questionable union, the statement said.
He affirmed Nigeria’s support for a monetary union with the right fundamentals, which guarantees credibility, sustainability and overall regional prosperity and sovereignty, the statement added.
According to the President, Nigeria also believed that given the potential contractions and even losses from the global Covid-19 pandemic, member states could not but be too cautious about ensuring compliance with the set standards.