Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday, said the introduction of single currency by West African states would promote economic integration and progress within the region.
Obasanjo said this while playing host to the President, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Commission, Marcel de Souza, at his Hilltop Estate, Abeokuta.
The former president said it was high time the organisation started using single currency, adding that it will help boost the economy of all members of ECOWAS.
“We have decided that our unit of currency will be ‘Eco’, let us now start using Eco, let Eco become our unit of currency. Single currency unit for ECOWAS states will bring about more development and growth among the states,” he said.
The former president also said that a deeper economic integration among members of the ECOWAS would gradually stem the tide of youths’ unemployment in the region.
He stressed that economic integration of West African countries would guarantee development of the sub-region.
He contended that ECOWAS’s founding fathers never envisaged that internal conflicts would so much engage the sub-region’s attention.
“ECOWAS was established 41 years ago, the expectation of all of us was very high, I think we will not be fair to ourselves if we do not say to ourselves we have not moved as fast as we expected. We must tell ourselves the truth that there has not been enough political will on our part to move the sub-regional organisation as fast and as far as we should have done,” he said.
He advocated a reform that would enable member countries to move beyond movement of goods and services.
Obasanjo warned that the entire African continent would be sitting on a keg of gun powder as long as its leaders refused to pay adequate attention to youth unemployment.
“I have maintained that all of us in West Africa, and indeed in Africa, are sitting on a keg of gun powder for as long as we do not pay adequate attention to youth unemployment.
A situation where more than 50 per cent of our youths are unemployed is extremely dangerous.
We now have a situation in part of West Africa where people are dying of starvation. Is it that we are not producing enough food? Or if we are producing, are they not evenly distributed?
It is shameful because that has led us to be begging international communities for supply of food to West Africa. It is not right,” he said.
The former president, however, declared that he would always make himself available for the ECOWAS services.
“I will continue to make myself available in the service of ECOWAS, wherever you think my services will be needed, call upon me and am ready. What is important is that these communities of 320 million people will be lifted up, these communities should be marching along and we should get rid of internal conflicts,” he said.
Earlier, de-Souza said he was in Abeokuta to introduce himself to Obasanjo, as the newly appointed President of the Commission and to also get his advice and orientation on matters concerning ECOWAS sub-region.
He emphasised that he was inclined to visit Obasanjo because the former Nigerian leader had always showed commitment to ECOWAS, adding that he came purposely to seek guidance.
“Obasanjo is a special ECOWAS envoy to Guinea-Bissau, we have come to also find out if Obasanjo has come out with any solution to the crisis in Guinea-Bissau,” he said.