Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that the Eco regional currency project could be in ‘serious jeopardy’ unless member states complied with agreed processes of reaching the collective goal.
He 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 other member states.
Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, in a statement, yesterday, said the president delivered 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).
The meeting discussed the implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) and the ECOWAS Single Currency Agenda.
Said Buhari: ‘‘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 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.”
He affirmed Nigeria’s support for a monetary union with the right fundamentals, which guarantees credibility, sustainability and overall regional prosperity and sovereignty.
President Buhari said Nigeria believes that given the potential contractions and losses from COVID-19 pandemic, member states cannot but be too cautious about ensuring compliance with 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.