West Africa: Buhari Raises Concern Over ECOWAS Common Currency Project

Map showing the location of ECOWAS countries.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday expressed some concern over the feasibility of the Eco regional currency, saying the countries are now "at a crossroads" over the project.

Buhari, was quoted in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, as expressing Nigeria's position on the proposed 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.

He said: "My dear colleagues, Heads of State and Government, It is obvious that we are at a crossroads.

"We must proceed with caution and comply with the agreed process of reaching our collective goal, while treating each other with utmost respect. Without these, our ambitions for a strategic Monetary Union as an ECOWAS bloc could very well be in serious jeopardy", Buhari cautioned.

The President warned that the ambition for Eco regional currency could be in 'serious jeopardy,' unless member states complied with agreed processes of reaching the collective goal.

He particularly 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.

He recalled: "Your Excellences, 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", Buhari added.

He, however, assured the ECOWAS leaders of Nigeria's commitment to the single currency and 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 ECOWAS leaders resolved to convene an enlarged meeting of the regional bloc on the single currency issue, following the caution raised by Nigeria and some other member-countries at the meeting.

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