By Jacob Ajakaiye, in Kano
Prevailing reality in Kano, northern Nigeria’s biggest economy, shows that most members of the business community in the state are yet to key into the planned new regional currency, the ECO.
The regional currency ‘ECO’, being initiated by some Francophone countries in West Africa, was announced towards late year, by Ivorian President, Alassane Quattara, at the meeting of ECOWAS heads of states, held in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
However, as consultations continue among stakeholders in the sub-region, in readiness for the adoption of the currency, there is an indication that many members of the business community in the state are not favourably disposed to the new currency arrangement.
Most of the business people told business a.m. that the choice of ECO as the common currency for the sub-region, was an attempt by France to hijack the on-going regional initiative geared at transforming ECOWAS into an Economic and Monetary Union.
Most of the respondents, who spoke anonymously, said that the idea of operationalizing the currency plan in the sub-region is not feasible for now.
One of the respondents, who is the managing director of one of the sack manufacturing companies in Kano servicing the ECOWAS market, observed that the implementation of the new currency slated to start in July 2020, is going to be hampered by the prevalence of corruption in Nigeria.
He noted that the prevailing unfriendly poor manufacturing environment in Nigeria is also going to make it very difficult for the successful implementation of the currency regime, noting that the implementation is going to negatively impact the economy of the state, and Nigeria, at large.
According to him, there is a high probability that the implementation of the new currency will cause a massive cross-border capital flight from Nigeria, in view of this, he is suggesting that the Nigerian government should not support the introduction of the new currency.
In the same vein, Ali Madoya, who operates a commodity trading company, based on Mai Malari Road, Bompai, Kano, described the new currency as a colonial relic of France.
Kano is Nigeria’s second biggest market, outside of Lagos, known to connect a high volume of undocumented trading activity with the eight former French colonies in West African, namely, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo, that are pushing for the new currency.
Most businessmen in the state see Kano as one of the strategic regional markets in West Africa, where the success or otherwise of the new monetary policy will be determined.
The acceptability of the currency by the business community in the state, from every indication, is expected to give a massive boost to its effective circulation because of the high number of people that is expected to be involved in its usage.
On a similar note, feelers emanating from Nigeria’s seat of government suggest that econometricians within the ministry of finance as, well as the apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), have advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to give credence to the proposed ECO currency.
The econometricians are said to have cited the issue of inadequate preparations, as well as the desperation being exhibited by the governments of the eight West African countries promoting the currency, as the second reason, why Nigeria should not support the arrangement.