Muda Yusuf, the Director-General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), on Sunday urged the Federal Government not to make the adoption of the ECO common currency, a priority.
Yusuf told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that there were important economic issues that needed the government’s attention.
“For us in Nigeria, the adoption of the `Eco’ on the issue of monetary union should not be a priority at this time. There are more important issues to address as far as economic integration is concerned.
“We need to get the sequencing right. We are still grappling with the challenges of preliminary stages of economic integration which are the Free Trade Area and Customs Union.
“There is a higher level of common market before we talk about monetary union, where we have the adoption of a common currency. The reality is that the pace of economic integration in ECOWAS has been very slow,’’ the LCCI boss said.
Yusuf advised government to give attention to building strong, diversified, competitive and inclusive economy.
According to him, a virile economy is critical to a beneficial participation in international trade, whether at the sub-regional, continental or global level.
Also speaking, Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research (CEPAR), University of Lagos, advised the Federal Government to pull out from the common currency adoption.
He said, “What the Francophone countries had done by renaming their own CFA franc as Eco and asking Nigeria to join, is an anomaly and a trap. So, the government of Nigeria should not join.’’
Ministers of Finance and Governors of the Central Banks of the Member States of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) had, at a meeting in Abuja, kicked against the renaming of CFA to Eco.
A January 16 communique signed by Mamadi Camara, the Minister for Economy and Finance of the Republic of Guinea, noted with concern, the declaration by Alasane Outtarra, Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) on December 21, 2019 to unilaterally rename the CFA Franc as “Eco” by 2020.
“WAMZ Convergence Council wishes to emphasise that this action is not in line with the decisions of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the “Eco” as the name of an independent ECOWAS Single Currency.
“WAMZ Convergence Council re-iterates the importance for all ECOWAS member countries to adhere to the decisions of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government toward the implementation of the revised roadmap of the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme.
“The WAMZ Convergence Council recommends that an Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the WAMZ Member States be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues,” he said.
In attendance were Mambury Njie, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Gambia, Ken Ofori Atta, Minister of Finance of Ghana, Samuel Tweah Jr, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Liberia, Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Nigeria, and Jacob Shaffa, the Minister of Finance, Sierra Leone.
Others were Buah Saidy Central Bank of the Gambia, Ernest Addison Central Bank of Ghana, Louncenry Nabe Central Bank of Guinea and Aloysius Tarlue of Liberia and Godwin Emefiele Central Bank of Nigeria and Kelfala Kallon of Sierra Leone.
Eight West African countries had agreed to change the name of their common currency to Eco, thereby effectively severing the CFA franc’s links to former colonial ruler France.
The countries include Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.