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Market Digest Nigeria

Economy

Buhari expresses concern over new Eco Regional currency

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern over the decision by regional francophone countries to replace CFA Franc with regional common currency, Eco, ahead of other member states.

Buhari cautioned his counterparts in Ecowas bloc of possible dangers brought by Eco if not well-thought-out.

“It gives me an uneasy feeling that the UEMOA Zone now wishes to take up the Eco in replacement for its CFA Franc ahead of the rest of the Member States,” Buhari said during a virtual summit on Tuesday referring to the eight member states of the West African Monetary and Economic Union (French acronym, UEMOA).

“This is in addition to deviating from the Community Act on a consistent attainment of convergence in the three years running up to the introduction of the currency, and our subsequent reinforcing directives,” said Buhari.

“We cannot ridicule ourselves by entering a union to disintegrate, potentially no sooner than we enter into it… we must proceed with caution and comply with the agreed process of reaching our collective goal while treating each other with utmost respect. Without these, our ambitions for a strategic Monetary Union as an ECOWAS bloc could very well be in serious jeopardy,” said the Nigerian president.

Buhari, however, affirmed Abuja’s commitment to Eco urging other Ecowas member states to take a common position to safeguard the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) from the “pitfalls of a questionable union”.

The virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of WAMZ discussed the implementation the implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) and the Ecowas Single Currency Agenda.

Buhari’s reaction follows a decision by French speaking West African countries to renounce their French Franc (CFA) and unilaterally converted their currency to Eco, the Ecowas single currency which had been in the mill for decades.

Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo reverted to ‘Eco’ at a ceremony in December 2019 attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, taking the rest members of the bloc by surprise.

The decision to call the CFA franc replacement currency the Eco caused a major rift in the region pitting the Francophone nations against their English speaking counterparts.

Analysts say that despite the new name, the Eco will still be pegged to the euro and still be backed by the Banque de France.

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