By Joseph Idika
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday called on the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to agree on common currency to boost the regional trade.
Obasanjo made call at the ongoing 24th Annual General Meeting of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Kigali.
He spoke on the theme “Can Regional Economic Communities Work for Africa: Lessons from a Founding Father”.
He said that the issue of common currency was getting delayed because the regional leaders had put forward “ECO” as a name for the currency but wondered why it had not been adopted.
According to him, the currency is required to move the current level of the regional trade from 25 per cent to more than 50 per cent.
He said the various currency zones like the Naira zone, the Cedi zone, among others should not be allowed to mitigate the flow of trade within the region.
He blamed too many internal conflicts and changes in policies, among others, as some of the challenges facing the region.
Obasanjo, however, lauded ECOWAS countries for their ability to resolve their issues on their own, adding that ECOWAS on its own had resolved conflicts in Liberia, Sierria Loene and The Gambia.
He said that in the case of The Gambia, ECOWAS leaders agreed that a military option should be adopted but it should be without firing a bullet.
“I was sure the ousted president Yahya Jammeh will leave but when he started delaying ECOWAS leaders met, it was agreed a military option should be adopted.
“The tactics worked and when the countries leaders were saying the ousted president Yahya Jammeh had left the country with huge sums of money. I told them to allow him go with the money so far he allows the country to remain in peace,” he said.
He said the region had been most democratic region going by free and fair elections done in the countries.
He told the audience that in the region, elections had been held without violence and wherever there were crisis the region had resolved such crisis peacefully.