Six Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries have rejected the move by eight other francophone nations in the region to adopt the Eco common currency.
Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, all English-speaking countries and Guinea, the only francophone country, faulted the move by Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo who had agreed to change the name of their common currency, CFA francs to Eco.
At an extraordinary meeting of the Ministers of Finance and Economy, and the Governors of Central Banks in the West African Monetary Zone on Thursday, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said that the declaration is not in line with the decisions of ECOWAS Heads of States.
“While the meeting applauds the decision of the francophone West African countries to the link, the meeting also noted with concern, the declaration by his Excellency, Alassane Ouattara, Chairman of the authority of the Heads of States and Governments of the West African Economy and Monetary Union on the 21st December 2019 to unilaterally rename the CFA francs as eco by the year 2020.
“WAMZ Convergence council wishes to emphasize that this action is not in line with the decision of the authorities of the heads of states and government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the eco as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.”
At the end of the meeting, delegates recommended that an extraordinary general meeting of ECOWAS heads of state and governments in the West African Monetary Zone be convened to discuss the matter.
“The council reiterates the importance for all ECOWAS member countries to adhere to the decisions of the ECOWAS authority heads of states and government towards the implementation of the revised roadmap of the ECOWAS single currency programme.
“The council recommends that an extraordinary summit of the authority of the heads of state and government of the WAMZ member state be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues.”
In December 2019, the adoption of Eco common currency by the eight francophone countries was lauded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), showing readiness to engage with the regional authorities, owing to its proven track record in the conduct of monetary policy and external reserve management.
Ghana had in December, lauded the move and said that the country is determined to do whatever they can to join the Member States of UEMOA soon.
The Government of Ghana has said that it will ‘soon’ adopt the use of the new Eco common currency which was declared by the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) for introduction in 2020.
Eight Economic Community of West African (ECOWAS) countries agreed to change the name of their common currency to Eco and discontinue the use of the CFA franc’s linked to former colonial ruler France.
The development was announced by the President of the UEMOA, his Excellency Alassane Ouattara President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire on December 22 during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Ivory Coast.
According to a statement by the Ghanaian government, signed by the Director of Communication, Eugene Arhin, the decision is a good testimony to the importance that is being attached not only to the establishment of a monetary union but also to the larger agenda of West African integration.
“This is a welcome decision, which Ghana warmly applauds. It is a good testimony to the importance that is being attached not only to the establishment of a monetary union but also to the larger agenda of West African integration.
“We, in Ghana, are determined to do whatever we can to enable us to join the Member States of UEMOA, soon, in the use of the ECO, as, we believe, it will help remove trade and monetary barriers, reduce transaction costs, boost economic activity, and raise the living standards of our people.”
The Ghanaian government urged other Member State of ECOWAS to work rapidly towards implementing the decisions of the authorities, including “adopting a flexible exchange rate regime, instituting a federal system for the ECOWAS Central Bank, and other related agreed convergence criteria, to ensure that we achieve the single currency objectives of ECOWAS, as soon as possible, for all Member States.
“We have a historic opportunity to create a new reality for the peoples of ECOWAS, a reality of general prosperity and progress. So, let us seize it,” it stressed.
A ban on pregnant girls attending school in Sierra Leone must be scrapped, a regional West African court ruled on Thursday in a case brought by rights groups.
The ECOWAS Court of Justice demanded that “the prohibitive policy be reversed immediately”, calling it “discrimination against pregnant adolescent girls”.
Sierra Leone banned pregnant girls from going to school in 2015 following the 2014 Ebola crisis — during which thousands of girls became pregnant, often because orphans turned to prostitution, or as a result of rape and abuse.
Officials had argued that pregnant girls would be unable to learn and might influence other girls to get pregnant, but rights groups said the move was discriminatory.
Hannah Yambasu of WAVES, one of the groups that brought the case, said the court’s decision was vital for “ensuring girls are protected and ensuring that girls finish their higher education”.
The ruling was a “landmark moment”, according to Amnesty International’s Marta Colomer, but she warned that national governments do not always enforce decisions from ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States.
“The problem is in the past, we’ve seen some of Ecowas judgments have faced difficulties to find themselves enforced,” she said.
Justice Dupe Atoki at the ECOWAS court not only called for an end to the prohibition but also criticised efforts by the UN and the British government to provide a limited education for pregnant youngsters.
“That establishment of schools for pregnant adolescent girls where four subjects are taught in three days in a week is discriminatory and a violation of rights to equal education,” she said.
The ECOWAS Court, set up by the fifteen member states, issues decisions that are supposed to be binding, but often are not acted upon.
Women and girls in Sierra Leone face high levels of sexual violence -– a legacy of the use of rape as a weapon during the civil war of 1991-2002.
For a year after the 2014 Ebola Crisis, which killed almost 4,000 people in Sierra Leone and spread across West Africa, schools were closed to help authorities curb the deadly virus.
But after they reopened reports of stigma were rife.
In 2015, a group of 5,000 girls were expelled for getting pregnant during the Ebola crisis, before the decision was reversed by the government.
The Senate President told his guest that the will and determination to carry out reforms is there.
Lawan expressed appreciation to the support the EU has been extending to Nigeria particularly in the areas of the electoral process and political development and cooperation.
“Our democracy since 1999 has received a lot of support from the EU and this is making a very positive impact.
“The relationship between the EU and the Nigerian government is not like it is with other organizations.
“We also have a relationship at the level of the legislature. We have the EU-ACPU joint parliamentary Assembly. We believe this is one area thru which we can continue to discuss issues that affect us in relation to the EU or what we think we can be doing together,” Lawan said.
Lawan asked of EU for more support in the area of capacity building particularly for the Senate Committees on INEC, National Planning, and Finance.
Earlier, Ambassador Karlsen said EU is for many years a very significant partner of Nigeria and expressed the hope that the current EU leadership will “be able to establish even deeper relationship with Nigeria.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to attend the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on Counter Terrorism.
Upon his arrival, the President was received by President Roch Kabore of Burkina Faso.
The Aide to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, confirm through her Twitter handle that the President was also received at the Ouagadougou International airport by the Nigerian Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Ramatu Ahmed, Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, Defence Minister, Bashir Magashi, NSA, Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), DG, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Executive Secretary of Lake Chad Basin Commission, Ambassador Nuhu Mamman and members of the Nigerian Community in Burkina Faso.
The special-one day summit by ECOWAS leaders and leaders from Chad, Cameroon and Mauritania is expected to adopt an action plan to address the spread of terrorism and violent extremism in the region.
The Nigerian leader is expected to address the Summit where he will renew his call for West African leaders “to strive to provide the necessary resources and tools” for regional initiatives such as Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force, to lead the war on terrorism, violent extremism and trans-border crimes across the region.
President Buhari is expected back in Abuja at the end of the Summit.
President @MBuhari arrives Ouagadougou Burkina Faso for the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on Counter Terrorism.
He is received by the President of Burkina Faso, Nigerian delegates led by the Hon. Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Nigerian Community here. pic.twitter.com/W5sEl59vQ9
President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, urged ECOWAS leaders not to allow terrorist groups destabilise the region.
”Our region has made commendable progress in the realization of its regional integration and we must not allow terrorist groups to destabilize our Community and undermine the aspirations of our people for a safe, secure and prosperous environment,” President Buhari said in his speech at the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on Counter-Terrorism.
”It is, therefore, our collective responsibility not to let up but to win the fight against terrorism and stamp out the scourge from our region,” he added.
President Buhari, who joined other ECOWAS leaders for the special one-day Summit, which was also attended by leaders of Chad and Mauritania decried that terrorism, today, has become a major security threat across the globe.
He warned that the activities of terrorist groups constitute a grave danger to peace and security in West Africa, the wider Sahel and the global community.
”The frequency of attacks, the determination and resilience of the terrorist groups as well as the ease with which they raise funds and acquire sophisticated weapons are matters of serious concern which should engage our attention as a Community.
”Equally worrisome, is the continuing spread of the menace of terrorism in the region and the growing link between terrorism and organized crime.
”This is why we must not relent in our efforts until we defeat the monster completely.
”And the best way to achieve this objective is through coordinated regional actions and responses against terrorism, insurgency, banditry, inter-communal disputes while we also put in place policies and measures that will address their root causes including the re-establishment and protection of livelihoods,” he said.
Sharing the experience of Nigeria in fighting the scourge, the President told the summit:
”As a major victim of Boko Haram terrorist activities, Nigeria has remained resolute in efforts to combat and eradicate them in all their forms and manifestations.
”Our counter-terrorism strategy which includes prevention, prosecution and reconstruction is also in full compliance with the Yamoussoukro counter-terrorism strategy adopted by ECOWAS Member States.
”In combating terrorism and addressing the resultant humanitarian crisis, through regional and international collaboration, ECOWAS as a Regional Economic Cooperation, would need in partnership with the African Union, to galvanise international support and solidarity to combat and defeat this menace in our region”.
The Nigerian leader also used the occasion to apprise the regional leaders on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin and the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
He described the situation in Lake Chad Basin, historically a bastion of rich culture and civilization, an area abundant in natural resources providing livelihoods to tens of millions of people, as tragic.
He noted that the area has become an abode for terrorist groups and extremists whose primitive intent was wanton destruction of lives of innocent citizens and properties as well as public infrastructure.
On MNJTF, the President reported that the achievements recorded so far in the operations remain an exemplary model of regional collaboration.
”MNJTF has largely succeeded in degrading the Boko Haram terrorist group. This could not have been accomplished without the recognition by the affected Lake Chad Basin Countries and Benin Republic, of the need to harness our efforts and resources to confront our common enemy which has now been substantially weakened.
”While much still remains to be done, I encourage MNJTF to stay steadfast in their mission, as I urge the political leadership of the LCBC countries to continue to preserve our solidarity and commitment towards achieving durable peace and sustainable development in these areas.
”In this regard, it is imperative that we continuously strive to provide the necessary resources and tools to the MNJTF, the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the Accra Initiative and similar initiatives, to lead the war on terrorism, violent extremism and trans-border crimes across the region, ” he said.
President Buhari said he expects that the adoption of the road map, priority areas and other recommendations to the Ouagadougou Summit, if properly implemented, would go a long way in addressing the spread of terrorism and violent extremism in the region.
President Buhari will depart Abuja Saturday to attend the one-day ECOWAS Heads of State and Government Extraordinary Summit on Counter-Terrorism, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Given the growing threat of terrorism in the sub-region, the West African leaders had called for the Summit to review different initiatives taken so far, and redefine the priority intervention areas for the containment of the worrisome attacks in the area.
The decision to convene the Summit was reached at the 55th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja on June 29, 2019.
President Buhari recognises the imperative of collective actions in the fight against terrorism, and will continue to partner with ECOWAS member states and international organisations to address the menace.
In Ouagadougou, ECOWAS leaders are expected to adopt a priority action plan on counter-terrorism and put in place a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the measures adopted towards ensuring lasting peace in the sub-region.
President Buhari will be accompanied by Governors Abubakar Bello, Dapo Abiodun and Okezie Ikpeazu of Niger, Ogun and Abia States respectively; as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Minister of Defence, Major-General Bashir Magashi (retd).
Also on the President’s entourage are the National Security Adviser, Maj-General Babagana Monguno (retd) and Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
The President is expected back in Abuja at the end of the Summit.
While declaring the session open, President Buhari on behalf of the ECOWAS, condoled with the families of the victims of terrorist attacks, banditry and inter-communal clashes perpetrated by some misguided elements within the region.
He assured all that the ECOWAS will not relent in its efforts to protect its peace-loving people and their properties, while vigorously sustaining the war against terrorism and criminality”.
President Muhammadu Buhari has told leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that his government will not relent in protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians and other neighbouring countries.
President Buhari who is the chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government stated this on Saturday while declaring the 55th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS open in Abuja.
He said, “Let me offer, on behalf of all of us, our sincere sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of terrorist attacks, banditry and inter-communal clashes perpetrated by some misguided elements in our societies.
“We shall not relent in our efforts to protect our peace-loving people and their properties, while vigorously sustaining the war against terrorism and criminality”.
The President told Heads of State and Government there is a need for the adoption of a common strategy at the national and regional level to combat terrorism.
According to him, “We will reinforce our actions and resources for a more effective response to protect our citizens and secure our common space”.
Read Full Text Below:
STATEMENT BY H.E. MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, CHAIRMAN OF THE ECOWAS AUTHORITY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT, AT THE 55TH ORDINARY SESSION OF THE ECOWAS AUTHORITY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT, ABUJA, NIGERIA
29TH JUNE 2019
It is with great pleasure that I warmly welcome you to Abuja on behalf of the Government and People of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the occasion of the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
2. To my colleagues, let me again reiterate my deep appreciation for the confidence placed on me to lead our sub-regional organization, as Chair of the Authority during the last one year. I sincerely thank you for the valuable support extended to me throughout the period.
Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
3. As West African leaders, we are delighted with the platform provided by our organization to hold regular consultations. We also note with satisfaction the effective functioning of our Institutions which further bind us together as member states.
4. The fact that we have reconvened here today, to discuss developments in our sub-region, bears testimony to our sustained commitment to the consolidation of our integration as a Community. I acknowledge and commend the giant strides made by ECOWAS in this regard.
5. I also commend our individual and collective efforts towards the promotion of good governance, peace, stability and socio-economic development in our sub-region. We must remain focused on our collective endeavour to make the sub-region an area of peace and security.
6. This is an essential prerequisite if we are to attain the primary objective of our organization which is, to “promote cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic and monetary union in West Africa, in order to raise the living standards of its people and contribute to the progress and development of the African continent”.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
7. Despite the overall appreciable progress we have made, particularly in the field of political governance, our sub-region continues to face considerable security challenges. We are all witnesses to the recurring incidents of inter-communal clashes, herders-farmers conflicts, banditry and terrorist attacks in all our countries.
8. These threats, you will agree with me, have consequences on the peaceful co-existence between our communities and peoples as well as their livelihoods.
9. This unrest also undermines all our efforts in achieving full regional integration. It is, therefore, necessary that we act collectively to end this menace in the interest of regional stability and wellbeing of our people.
10. Let me offer, on behalf of all of us, our sincere sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of terrorist attacks, banditry and inter-communal clashes perpetrated by some misguided elements in our societies. We shall not relent in our efforts to protect our peace loving people and their properties, while vigorously sustaining the war against terrorism and criminality.
Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
11. Taking into account the transnational nature of the threats confronting us, the need for the adoption of a common strategy at the national and regional level to combat them, has become imperative. By so doing, we will reinforce our actions and resources for a more effective response to protect our citizens and secure our common space.
12. While I acknowledge that several initiatives and measures have been taken in our respective countries recent developments have shown that we must cooperate more effectively to achieve our goals.
13. We should send a strong and unified message to the perpetrators of violence that we are resolute in our collective determination to confront and defeat them.
14. I would like to renew our gratitude to all our colleagues who have skilfully conducted the political mediation missions we entrusted to them.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
15. As we strive to create a secure, stable and prosperous environment in West Africa, we must also intensify our efforts to ensure sustainable economic and social development in our sub-region. By doing so, we will be able to tackle poverty and youth unemployment and contribute to our sustained stability.
16. Several issues relating to different policies, programmes and projects are itemized for discussion during today’s meeting.
17. As is our custom, the 55th ordinary session will also consider these matters from the reports on today’s agenda.
18. Considering the high level of interest you all attach to regional cooperation and integration, I am confident that our Summit will witness robust discussions and produce sound decisions.
19. Let me at this point, take this opportunity to renew, once again, our sincere appreciation to the African Union, the United Nations and all our bilateral and multilateral partners for their sustained cooperation and assistance. We value their partnership.
20. I will conclude my remarks by wishing us fruitful deliberations. I hereby declare open the 55th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.