President Muhamadu Buhari has urged member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to tread carefully in pushing for a single currency in the sub-region by 2020. The president stated this yesterday in Niamey, Niger Republic, at the 4th Meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Currency Programme.
Buhari, who drew the attention of the leaders to challenges being faced by the European Union in realising the same goal. He said the necessary economic fundamentals among countries would continue to differ over the years, making it more difficult to pull through with the project by 2020. “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,” he said.
The president 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. Buhari said 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 subregion.
According to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari 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 macro-economic conditions in ECOWAS countries, amongst others. And I would like to reiterate these concerns.”
He 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