President Muhamadu Buhari on Tuesday advised member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to tread carefully in pushing for same currency for the sub-region by 2020.
Speaking at the fourth meeting of the presidential task force on the ECOWAS currency programme in Niamey, Niger Republic, Nigeria’s supreme leader cited the challenges faced by the European Union in realising the same goal to buttress his position.
He further said the necessary economic fundamentals among countries continue to differ over the years, making it more difficult to pull through with the project by 2020.
Buhari also urged that the ECOWAS should proceed cautiously with the integration agenda, taking into consideration the above concerns and the lessons currently unfolding in the European Union (EU).
A statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, read:
“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 a monetary union, while neglecting fundamentals and other pertinent issues,” the President was quoted as saying.
Buhari noted that some of the obstacles to realising the road map for the implementation of a single currency included diverse and uncertain macro-economic fundamentals of many countries; unrealistic inflation targeting based on flexible exchange rate regime; and inconsistency with the African Monetary Cooperation Programme.
The President said domestic issues in ECOWAS member countries relating to their constitutions and dependence on aids had continued 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 this concern.”
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.
“Consequently, the road map which did not involve widespread consultation with national stakeholders is not sufficiently inclusive,” he added.
In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, 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.
Alain de Souza, who said the creation of a central bank for the West Coast would accelerate the process, noted that Nigeria constitutes more than 70 per cent of the GDP of the West African region, with a population of 180 million, and would play a significant role in facilitating the process of realising a single currency for the sub-region.