Betrayal Endangering Eco Currency, Buhari Warns ECOWAS Leaders

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, expressed dissatisfaction over the decision by francophone West African countries, which make up the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), to replace their common CFA Franc with the Eco ahead of other members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Buhari, who spoke 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), wondered why “a people with whom we wish to go into a union are taking these major steps without trusting us for discussion.”

At the meeting which discussed the implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) and the ECOWAS Single Currency Agenda, he warned that such a move could put the plan in ‘serious jeopardy.’

For the Nigerian leader said it is obvious that the region is at crossroads, hence the need to “proceed with caution and comply with the agreed process of reaching our collective goal while treating each other with utmost respect.

A statement by Femi Adesina, his Special Adviser (Media & Publicity), Buhari urged ECOWAS member states to comply with processes originally agreed to achieve the collective goal.

Without these, he stressed further, “our ambitions for a strategic Monetary Union as an ECOWAS bloc could very well be in serious jeopardy.”

He recalled that ECOWAS member states “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.

President Buhari, who assured ECOWAS leaders of Nigeria’s commitment to the ECOWAS single currency, urged them to critically consider the recommendations of the Convergence Council and take a common position to safeguard the West African Monetary Zone from the pitfalls of a questionable union.

He affirmed Nigeria’s support for a monetary union with the right fundamentals, which guarantees credibility, sustainability and overall regional prosperity and sovereignty.

According to the President, Nigeria also believes that given the potential contractions and even losses from the global Covid-19 pandemic, member states cannot but be too cautious about ensuring compliance with the set standards.

‘‘We cannot ridicule ourselves by entering a union to disintegrate, potentially no sooner than we enter into it.

‘‘We need to be clear and unequivocal about our position regarding this process. We must also communicate same to the outside world effectively. We have all staked so much in this project to leave things to mere expediencies and convenience,” Buhari added.

In the aftermath of the caution by Nigeria and some other West African countries at the meeting, ECOWAS leaders resolved to convene an enlarged meeting of the regional bloc on the single currency issue.

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