Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has advocated the need for the Economic Community of West African States to expedite action on the adoption of a unit of currency for the sub-region.
He 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 said despite the fact that ECOWAS had agreed on this no effort had been made to make this become a reality.
He said, “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.
He said, “I think we will not be fair to ourselves if we do not say to ourselves we have not moved as fast and as far the expectation 41 years ago had been.
“But as you have rightly said, there have been issues that have come up that were unexpected. I think again we must tell ourselves the truth that there has not been enough political will on our part to move that sub-regional organisation as fast and as far as we should have done.
“We never expected that internal conflicts will engage the attention of ECOWAS as much as it has engaged our attention in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, in Cote D’Ivoire just to mention a few.”
Obasanjo explained that many of the conflicts which had broken out in this region were caused by the leaders not paying adequate attention to issue of inclusiveness in the course of administering the affairs of their countries.
“I want to say this that most of these conflicts; most of these causes of insecurity or breach of security were because adequate attention had not been paid to what I will call inclusiveness.
“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.
He said, “We now have a situation in part of West Africa where people are now dying of starvation. Is it that we are not producing enough food? Or if we are producing, what we produced are evenly? It is shameful for whatever that has led us to be begging international communities for supply of food to any part of West Africa, it is not right.”