Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the Economic Community of West African States to introduce a single currency for the sub-region that would promote economic integration and progress within the region.
Obasanjo made this known on Monday at his Presidential Hilltop residence in Abeokuta when the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Marcel Allain de-Souza, paid him a courtesy visit.
He tasked the ECOWAS President to ensure economic integration among member- countries, lamenting that 41 years after its creation, the region “has not moved fast enough to get to desired land” due to lack of ‘political will’.
Obasanjo reiterated that despite the fact that ECOWAS had agreed on the introduction of a single currency, no effort had been made to make it become a reality.
“We have decided that our unit of currency would be Eco. Let us now start using Eco, let Eco become our unit of currency.
I will continue to make myself available in the service of ECOWAS. Wherever you think my services will be needed, call upon me, I am ready. What is important is that these communities of 320 million people will be lifted up. These communities should be marching along. We should get rid of internal conflicts.”
The former President recalled that 41 years ago when ECOWAS was established, the expectation of the founding fathers, including himself, was high.
He, however, lamented that the organisation had not moved as fast as it should in the area of economic integration, but rather it had been bogged down by conflicts within the constituent countries.
The former President stressed that the truth remains that there has not been enough political will on the leaders’ part to move the sub-regional organisation as fast and as far as they should have done.
Obasanjo explained that many of the conflicts which had broken out in some regions such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, and in Cote D’Ivoire, were caused by the leaders not paying adequate attention to issue of inclusiveness in the course of administering the affairs of their countries.
Explaining what he meant, he said:
“Inclusiveness in terms of political, economic and social development of all our countries. Inclusiveness gender wise, inclusiveness social wise, inclusiveness religious wise, inclusiveness ethnic wise and we must appeal to our leaders in our sub-region to take these issues of inclusion seriously.”
Obasanjo further noted that there should be deeper economic reform regime within the ECOWAS Commission which would enable member countries to move beyond movement of goods and services.
The former President expressed his concern over the legion of unemployed youths in the sub-region, arguing that the whole African continent was sitting on a keg of gun powder for as long as its leaders refused to pay adequate attention to providing jobs for them.
He was also worried about the food crisis in West Africa, in which the region was finding it difficult to feed its people.