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Buhari Against Ecowas Decision Of One Currency By 2020

Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has warned member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as they move closer to adopting a single currency for the sub-region by 2020.

Buhari made the observation on Tuesday, in Niamey, Republic of Niger, where he is attending the ECOWAS Taskforce Meeting on Common Currency. He drew participants’ attention to the challenges that confronted the European Union while trying to actualise a common currency. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, noted in a statement on behalf of the president, that member countries had their peculiar economic challenges which might deter them from pulling through the programme by 2020.

Adesina quoted President Buhari to have said: “Nigeria advises that we proceed cautiously with the integration agenda, taking into consideration the above concerns and the lessons currently unfolding in the European Union. “To that end, Nigeria will caution against any position that pushes for a fast-track approach to monetary union, while neglecting fundamentals and other pertinent issues.”

Buhari noted that some of the obstacles to realising the roadmap for the implementation of a single currency included diverse and uncertain macroeconomic fundamentals of many countries, unrealistic inflation targeting based on flexible exchange rate regime, and inconsistency with the African Monetary Co-operation Programme. Buhari also argued that domestic issues in ECOWAS member countries relating to their constitutions and dependence on aids continue to affect the framework for implementing the single currency in the sub-region.

 He said: “Although the ECOWAS Commission has anchored its pursuit of the new impetus to monetary integration on ‘the information presented to the Heads of State which were the basis for their recommendations’, we are concerned that we have not properly articulated and analysed a comprehensive picture of the state of preparedness of individual countries for monetary integration in ECOWAS by 2020. “In previous meetings, we had specifically raised observations on the state of preparedness of the member states, the credibility of the union if anchored on watered-down criteria, and the continuing disparities between macroeconomic conditions in ECOWAS countries, amongst others. “And I would like to reiterate these concerns.” The president told the Heads of State that the conditions that pushed Nigeria into withdrawing from the process in the past had not changed.

“Nigeria had earlier withdrawn from the process because its key questions and concerns were ignored and, till date, none of the issues has come up as an agenda issue to be considered by the Taskforce,” the president said, and added, “Consequently, the roadmap which did not involve widespread consultation with national stakeholders is not sufficiently inclusive.” President Buhari suggested a thorough review of the convergence roadmap and the constitution of an expert committee on each of the subject areas to come up with an acceptable time frame, defined cost and funding sources identified.

Meanwhile, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, in his address, said the single currency for the West African sub-region was a laudable and historical project, but regretted that it had taken too long to be actualised. The president said the creation of a Central Bank for the West Coast would accelerate the process.

He noted that Nigeria constitutes more than 70 percent of the GDP of the West African region, w
ith a population of 180 million, and would play a significant role in facilitating the process of realising a single currency for the sub-region.

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