The National Association of Nigerian Traders has advised the Federal Government and the Economic Community of West African States to address corruption and regional cross border trade challenges before adopting ECO Currency.
Ken Ukaoha, NANTS President, gave the advice on Saturday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
According to him, the general problem facing the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme must also be addressed.
Ukaoha said that ECOWAS and Nigeria must seek to address the myriad of challenges facing regional cross border trade such as intimidation, harassment of traders, bribery and corruption.
NAN recalls that eight West African countries had agreed to change the name of their common currency to Eco, thereby effectively severing the CFA franc’s links to former colonial ruler France.
The countries are Benin republic, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
This was announced by the President of cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron.
All of these African countries are former French colonies, except Guinea-Bissau.
Ukaoha, however, decried corruption among uniformed border officials, unnecessary delays of goods and lack of common trade policy by Nigeria.
Ukaoha, a trade advocate, said though the ECO would be beneficial, but the Member States must first meet the set convergence criteria to ensure the effective security and preservation of macroeconomic policy environment.
He also noted that Nigeria could not pursue common currency with speed when it did not have a common trade policy.
Ukaoha, also a legal practitioner, said the causative factors behind the closure of Nigeria’s land borders should equally be addressed.
He said: “Several infractions and violations of extant ECOWAS Protocols by Member States against the citizens such as the closure of Nigerian trader’s shops in Ghana is a priority.”
He said costs and benefits analysis of a single currency must be undertaken and presented to the wider ECOWAS public to secure buy-in support and ownership of the process and outcomes.
He said: “We are supporting the idea but we are of a strong opinion that it is not a priority for ECOWAS and Nigeria at this time because there are conditions that should be fulfilled.”
Ukaoha said though the single currency would be beneficial, he held strongly that ECOWAS should reorder its priorities first while Nigeria should strengthen its trade issues for good implementation.
He added: “The single currency is beneficial to Nigeria and ECOWAS.
“It is also beneficial to the traders and entire private sector for ease of transactions, increased commerce, productivity and economic development.”