Nigeria and six other members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are to meet today to take a common position on the ECO single currency controversy.
Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Zainab Ahmed, told PREMIUM TIMES that Nigeria decided not to make any statement over the controversy that followed the recent decision by eight French-speaking ECOWAS members to dump the CFA franc and adopt the ECO as their common currency, to avoid being misunderstood.
“Nigeria has not (yet) made a formal statement on the ECO controversy. We have decided not to make any statement until January 16 when we are supposed to have a meeting of the English speaking member countries of ECOWAS to take a common position. That’s just it for now.
“Until that position is taken, that is why Nigeria decided not to make any statement that would be misinterpreted or misunderstood,” she said.
The English-speaking countries that will join Nigeria for the meeting include The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Following the announcement by the Francophone countries, critics expected Nigeria to have come out forcefully to take a position on the development.
But, the minister said the Federal Government was bidding its time to study the situation and prepare an appropriate response in due course.
The meeting will be holding almost a month after the eight French-speaking West African countries announced their decision on the ECO single currency.
The countries are Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo Republic.
ECO is the name adopted for the common currency of the ECOWAS by the Authority of the Community’s Heads of State and Government at their 55th Ordinary Session in Abuja last June.
The adoption of the common currency expected to be issued in June 2020 is part of efforts by ECOWAS to realize its over 30 years’ aspiration to establish a single currency among its members and ensure regional economic integration in the region.
But, the announcement by the Ivorien President, Alassane Ouattara, on behalf of the eight French-speaking Francophone ECOWAS members signaled a widening crack in the ranks of the group along pre-colonial and political lines.
The controversy became heightened following allegations of undisguised involvement of the French government, which analysts accuse of attempts to hijack the ECO single currency project.
Apart from the decision to keep the exchange rate of the proposed ECO still pegged to the Euro, the French government also said its former colonies would no longer be required to maintain 50 per cent of their reserves in France’s treasury.