By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade on Tuesday lent support to the creation of a common currency for members of the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS).
This, the governor said will facilitate trade and ease of movement of goods and services with Nigerians expected to benefit from the widened maritime corridor.
“I support that strongly, I believe that when you expand the horizon, you create a bigger market,” Ayade told journalists on the sidelines of the 53rd session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States holding in Lome, Togo.
He continued: “I believe that the maritime corridor gets widened, the trade gets broader; the over 200 million Nigerians have opportunity to facilitate and migrate within the ECOWAS corridor and reduce the tension and create and equilibrating platform both for the economy and sociology of the people of Africa.”
Officially stated in December 2000 in connection with the formal launch of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), the ECOWAS single currency called “Eco” was first planned to be introduced in 2003, but suffered several postponements to 2005, 2010 and 2014.
It was later rescheduled to 2015 at a meeting of the Convergence Council of Ministers and Governors of West Africa on 25 May 2009 due to the international economic crisis of 2007 to 2008.
Another meeting in December 2009, established a plan to begin work to merge the “Eco” with the “CFA franc” which is used in French speaking ECOWAS countries excluding Guinea-Conakry immediately upon its launch by 2020.
The West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) set up in 2001 and headquartered in Accra, Ghana had set out a 10 point convergence criteria which till date, not all ECOWAS nations have met all. The WAMI os expected to metamorphose into the West African Central Bank.
Outgoing ECOWAS Chairman and Togolese President, Faure Gnassibe in his opening speech had said more needs to be done by member countries to achieve the desired economic integration, peace, stability and a sustainable future.
Meanwhile, CrossRiverWatch had reported that Mr. Ayade, among others, had joined the President to Togo on Sunday where he met with the Nigerian community and participated in a joint meeting between ECOWAS and the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS).
Security and trade as well as combating terrorism had dominated the ECOWAS/ECCAS meeting with the governor calling for the establishment of an international boundary patrol agency.
Furthermore, President Buhari was elected chairman of the ECOWAS and will serve for a term of one year while Ivorian, Mr. Jean Claude Kassi Brou was formally sworn in as President of the ECOWAS Commission.
Also, five judges of the ECOWAS court of justice including Nigeria’s Dupe Atoki were inaugurated at the summit.
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