19 Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, says Nigeria is not yet ready for the implementation of the ECOWAS Single Currency, “Eco,” in 2020.
Onyeama, who made this known on Thursday in Abuja while speaking with Journalists, explained that Nigeria’s position on the single currency was agreed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Member States.
Onyeama said that meeting up the convergence criteria for a single currency was one of the preconditions to be met by Member States to achieve implementation of the single currency.
The minister said that only one country out of the ECOWAS member states had been able, for over a period of three years, to maintain the convergence criteria.
“Majority of the countries understand that we are not quite ready immediately to go into this single currency market, but it is a process.
“Some of the French-speaking countries understand that since their currency, the CFA, is linked to the euro, that they also have to de-link, to start preparing towards this single market.
“And so, they have taken certain measures where the 50 per cent they ordinarily have to deposit with the French Central Bank, that is no longer going to be the case.
“France is no longer going to be represented on the board of the bank, So, there really is no major contradictions.
“There is no question of anybody colonising anybody. It was an initiative of the African countries and France accepted.
“The Eco is now going to be linked at the exchange rate with the euro. But that was a request, a specific request by the African countries,” he said.
Onyeama said that everything being done, is being undertaken by sovereign countries, exercising their sovereign wealth.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that ECOWAS Presidents during the 55th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government adopted Eco as the official name for the ECOWAS single currency.
President Mahamadou Issofou, Chairman of the Authority and Niger Republic’s President, had said that implementation of the single currency by 2020 was a priority on his agenda.
Edited by: Jane-Frances Oraka/Felix Ajide
COVID-19: Nigeria donates PPEs worth N67m to Sao Tome and Principe
“I am happy to inform you that as ECOWAS champion in the containment of COVID-19 in the West African sub-region, Mr President made a donation of 67 million worth of PPEs and medical supplies to the government and people of Sao Tome and Principe,” Mustapha said.
He said that medical equipment donated includes units of test kits, extraction kits, infrared thermometers, and other items of personal protective equipment to treat and test thousands in Sao Tome and Principe.
Meanwhile, the PTF Chairman appreciated the group of COVID-19 survivors that have added their voices to the campaign against stigmatization and urged others to always remember that COVID-19 was not a death sentence, stressing that “Nigerians need to support one another.
“Most importantly, let’s wear our masks properly, stay at home, especially for those above 60 years, maintain social distancing and continue to take personal responsibility while we encourage others to do same,” he said.
Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
Nigeria contributed $1.17bn to ECOWAS in 16 years
Nigeria has paid more than 1,177 billion dollars to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as its Community Levy contribution in the last 16 years.
According to documents from a presentation by the ECOWAS Commission to Parliament at Plenary during its Virtual Second Extraordinary Session, Nigeria paid 853,310,564 UA (West Africa Unit of Account) for the period under review.
Nigeria’s payment represents 40.42 per cent of the total payment of 2,913,088,908 dollars payment made by all the 15 member states, and is higher than payments made by 12 other countries put together except Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Ghana paid about 508,577 million dollars, Cote d’Ivoire 347,262 million dollars, while Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo paid a total of 879,711 million dollars.
Ghana’s payment represents 17.45 per cent of the total sum, Cote d’Ivoire 11.9 per cent, while the cumulative payment by the other 12 countries represents 30.1 per cent.
Within the period under review, Guinea Bissau paid the lowest amount of 6, 204 million dollars, representing 0.2 per cent of total community levy proceeds in the 16 years under review.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Community levy was adopted in 1996 by the Authority of Heads of State as the major funding for ECOWAS after the initial contribution regime seemed ineffective.
However, the Community Levy Protocol took effect in 2003 when all member states started its application.
The protocol stipulates that the taxable base shall be all goods originating from third countries (non-ECOWAS countries) imported into the community.
Also in the presentation to Parliament, there were certain exemptions to the tax on imported goods. These included aids and grants to support development projects and goods imported under a financial agreement with foreign partners.
A further look into the community levy data showed that many countries were yet to pay the total sum from their community levy assessments.
Based on the assessment, if all countries had paid in full, the sub-regional body would have gotten more than 3,710 billion dollars as against the 2,913 billion dollars paid, leaving a deficit of 797,215 million dollars.
Based on this assessment, Nigeria had paid 64 per cent of its payments, leaving an outstanding of 36 per cent.
Going by the above, if all countries had paid their complete levy, Nigeria alone would have paid more than 1,842 billion dollars, representing 49.64 per cent of the total Community Levy accrueable to ECOWAS.
Edited By: Ese E. Ekama (NAN)
UN Security Council voices concern over political unrest in Mali
The Security Council on Monday expressed deep concern over the latest political tensions in Mali and called for restraint.
In “press elements” released after a closed video teleconference on the situation in Mali, the members of the Security Council expressed their strong support for the mediation efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and took note of the recommendations endorsed by ECOWAS heads of state at Monday’s extraordinary summit.
They urged the Malian parties to act on these recommendations without delay in order to resolve the tensions, to prioritize dialogue, and to refrain from any action likely to fuel further tensions and threaten the rule of law, according to the press elements read out in a virtual press encounter by Christoph Heusgen, the German UN ambassador, whose country holds the Security Council presidency for the month of July.
Mali has been in political turmoil since June 5, when massive protests first erupted in the capital city of Bamako. A coalition of opposition and civil society groups are calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
The situation dramatically escalated when at least 11 protestors were killed and 150 people injured in Bamako between July 10 and 12.
Buhari challenges Malian political leaders on peace
President Buhari on Monday urged Malian political leaders to consider the fragile peace in the country and the likely spiralling effect on the sub-region.
The president gave the challenge during a virtual Extraordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja.
The Nigerian leader appealed to government and people of Mali to consider recommendations of ECOWAS Special Envoy, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his team, in resolving the political crisis.
According to him, a government of national unity will provide inclusivity and ensure peaceful co-existence.
“I wish to place on record, my commendations for the various layers of efforts, and especially, of former President Goodluck Jonathan, whose painstaking engagements as Special Envoy and Mediator, provided clear road-map to contain the crisis in Mali.
“I appeal therefore, to all the Malian stakeholders to consider the proposals for the reform of the Constitutional Court and the established modalities for resolving the continuous 31 seats issue at the National Assembly.
“Equally significant, is the need to address governance challenges, whose manifestations are at the core of restiveness across the country.
“In order to address these matters holistically, it is important that all Malians embrace the call for a Government of National Unity where inclusivity of participation in the affairs of governing their country will be a responsibility of each and every Malian actor.
“I wish to reiterate the imperative of compromise and concessions for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis which would be acceptable to all parties,’’ he said.
The president commended the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State & Government, for convening the Extraordinary Session to discuss the socio-economic, political and security developments in Mali, especially, following the outcome of the Parliamentary elections in the country, last March.
“May I recall that last March, Parliamentary elections took place in Mali. Regrettably, results of 31 seats arising from those elections, provoked the spate of unrest and protests that became violent with tragic consequences in July 2020.
“We are still living and contending with the negative fallout from those incidents.
“Our organisation, the ECOWAS, using its instrumentality of peaceful resolutions of crisis and in the context of our Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, embarked upon a series of efforts to address this crisis, at the levels of Ministerial Committee, Special Envoy & Mediator and to a select-group of Heads of State and Government and now, the Authority of Heads of State and Government, at this Extraordinary Session, today,” he said.
President Buhari thanked Development Partners, the EU, France, AU and the UN, urging them to continue to support efforts for national-regional security and stability of West Africa.
All ECOWAS leaders at the summit appreciated former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, who had been appointed Special Envoy and Mediator in the crisis.
The meeting adopted positions to resolve crisis sparked off by disputed parliamentary elections held in Mali, which had led to widespread riots, arson and killings in the West African country.
Among conclusions by the Heads of State and Government are: formation of a Government of National Unity to comprise 50% nominees by government of the day, headed by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 30% by the opposition, and 20% by civil society groups.
It was also agreed that given the numerous challenges facing the country, some members of Government will be nominated before the National Unity Government is formed. These are the Ministers in charge of Defense, Justice, Foreign Affairs, National Security and Finance.
The Malian President was equally mandated to ensure the stepping down of the 31 parliamentarians who emerged from the disputed polls, while a by-election will be held as speedily as possible.
Also agreed was that steps should be taken to reconstitute the Constitutional Court in the country as soon as possible, while a commission of enquiry would determine and identify those responsible for the violence that led to deaths and casualties as well as public properties destroyed on July 10-12, 2020.
Equally resolved was that the government would step up efforts to secure the release of opposition figure, Soumaila Cisse, kidnapped since March, among others.
The ECOWAS Commission is to put in place a Monitoring Committee for the implementation of all the above measures.
The Declaration, to be communicated to relevant organs of African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN), also agreed to support President Keita in restoring peace and order to Mali.
The sub-regional leaders emphasised that no anti-constitutional change of government would be accepted anywhere in West Africa.
Present at the virtual extraordinary meeting were the Presidents of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry, Cape Verde, The Gambia, and Niger Republic, who is the ECOWAS Chairman.
Equally present was Mr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of ECOWAS Commission.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)