Nigerian president calls for caution on regional common currency


NIGERIAN President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday cautioned his counterparts in the West African region against possible dangers brought by the regional common currency, Eco.

Buhari made this remark at a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) on the new regional currency.

Buhari expressed concern over the decision of francophone countries that form the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) to replace CFA Franc with Eco ahead of the rest of member states.

‘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. 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,’ the Nigerian leader said.

He said the decision would deviate from the Community Act on consistent attainment of convergence in the three years running up to the introduction of the currency, and the 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 legislation in their various parliaments to that effect,’ he said.

‘It is a matter of concern that people with whom we wish to go into a union are taking these major steps without trusting us for discussion,’ he added.

Buhari reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the single currency and urged leaders in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to consider the recommendations made by the Convergence Council and take a common position to safeguard the WAMZ ‘from the pitfalls of a questionable union.’

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

‘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 the same to the outside world effectively. We have all staked so much in this project to leave things to mere expediencies and convenience,’ he said.

The ECOWAS leadership is at a crossroads with the ambition for a common currency, Buhari noted, adding that the region must proceed with caution and comply with the agreed process of reaching the collective goal while treating each other with the utmost respect.

‘Without these, our ambitions for a strategic monetary union as an ECOWAS bloc could very well be in serious jeopardy,’ he added.


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