President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday advised the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member-countries to tread with caution in their push for a single currency in the sub-region by 2020.
Buhari, who gave the caution in his speech at the fourth meeting of the presidential task force on the ECOWAS currency programme in Niamey, Niger Republic, 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.
He advised 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).
According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari noted that some of the obstacles to realising the roadmap for the implementation of a single currency include diverse and uncertain macro-economic fundamentals of many countries, unrealistic inflation targeting based on flexible exchange rate regime and inconsistency with the African monetary co-operation programme.
The president said domestic issues in ECOWAS member-countries relating to their constitutions and dependence on aid continue to affect the framework for implementing the single currency in the sub-region.
Buhari told the heads of state that the conditions that pushed Nigeria into withdrawing from the process in the past had not changed.
The president, who noted that the West African Economic and Monetary Union countries should make a presentation on a clear roadmap towards delinking from the French treasury, advised an examination of the African Union position on the same issue.
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.
In another development, the ECOWAS Parliament has reiterated the importance of the implementation of its road transport policy, which supports its aim of a border-free region across member-states.
The Speaker of the parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, said transport infrastructure development contributes to the borderless region vision of ECOWAS where member states could have equal access to resources of the region for responsible and sustainable economic growth.
He stated this yesterday at the opening ceremony of the five-day de-localised meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament joint committee on infrastructure and industrial development /agriculture, environment, water resources and rural development held in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
Cisse Lo said that the parliament, through its joint committee, would make an inquiry into the status and effectiveness of the road transport and transit facilitation programme’s implementation.