The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday, 23rd of June 2020 raised concerns over the planned single currency for the Economic Community of West African States. He said the plan for the single currency, Eco, could be in serious jeopardy, unless member states complied with agreed processes of reaching the collective goal.

The Eco is the proposed name for the common currency that the West African Monetary Zone plans to introduce in the framework of ECOWAS. According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President delivered Nigeria’s position at a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone.

Buhari expressed concern over the decision of francophone countries that form the West African Economic and Monetary Union to replace the CFA Franc with Eco ahead of the rest of member states. He said, “It 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.”

He added, “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. 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 have all staked so much in this project to leave things to mere expediencies and convenience.”

“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.” In the light of the caution, ECOWAS leaders resolved to convene an enlarged meeting of the regional bloc on the single currency issue.

A former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, said it was wrong for the francophone countries to unilaterally take the decision to replace the CFA Franc with Eco. “They have simply gone ahead to create a fait accompli. It is not good for Nigeria. It has taken the leadership process from Nigeria, which accounts for up to 70 per cent of West Africa’s GDP.”

A member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, said the decision of the francophone countries to adopt the Eco had created mistrust within the region.

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