President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has urged ECOWAS member countries on the need to urgently ratify and domesticate all relevant treaties and statutes that will lead to the successful launch of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) on January 1, 2015.
President Jonathan stated this on Friday in Abuja, through Vice President Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo, at the 31st Convergence Council Meeting of the WAMZ.
The President who appreciated the notable successes recorded towards the launch of the monetary union, however, lamented the consistent underperformance of some member states in reducing inflation and fiscal deficit, which are critical to the successful launch and sustenance of the union.
“Our present position can be likened to the final lap in a relay race. This is where the race is won and lost. We can choose to either win or lose, but I will rather be on the winning team. All that is required now is total commitment, dedication and focus. Member countries must, as a matter of urgency, ratify and domesticate all the relevant WAMZ statutes and treaties. On our part, the Nigerian Government will not only continue to play its leadership role, but will also lead by example”, he said.
Speaking further, he urged member countries to strike a balance between nationalistic and regional interest, charging them to find the right solutions against factors that would impede the attainment of the monetary union by the set date of January 1, 2015. “I am confident that our concerted determination to succeed will see us through the Challenges that lie ahead.”
In her remarks Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, stated that WAMZ provides a veritable platform where member countries address issues affecting their growth. She noted that the region through its laudable economic policies was able to weather the storm through the global economic downturn, urging member countries to build on the successes achieved.
She lamented that some member countries were behind in meeting some of the criteria for the successful launch of the union, however noting that Nigeria and Ghana had made appreciable gains towards this end. Dr. Iweala also stated that Nigeria was making concerted efforts at reducing her fiscal deficit, debt profile and the diversification of her economy. She also implored member countries on the need for political will and abiding faith in the WAMZ project.
The need for a single economic space and monetary union in the ECOWAS sub region have been on for the past 12 years, when it was conceived in the year 2000 to boost the economic transformation of the founding nations of Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The formal launch date of the monetary union had been shifted three consecutive times, with a new set date of January 1, 2015.
Present at the occasion were the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yarima Ngama, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, representatives of the ECOWAS Commission and that of the outgoing Chairman of Committee of Governors, Dr. J. Mills, Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and several other dignitaries.