When France ratified Bretton Woods agreement on the 26th December 1945 coming out of second world war, it carried along Africans by instituting CFA – communaute financiere africaine – to strengthen its own FF – Franc Francais, vis a vis dominant dollar and great demands of IMF and the World Bank for seemingly what Nigerian leaders are afraid of now as convergence compliance before adopting common currency in ECOWAS. Great nations don’t fear competition as it was the case of France, Britain and USA who dominated then. They, all, carried along with eagle’s vision till 1976 when USA outshined all of them as Dollar became the monetary norm via Nixon’s greater vision for the world. Inclusiveness was the vision that made USA distinct from others as learnt, surreptitiously, from how France gained strength in adjoining CFA countries to its treasury. Nigeria needs to learn and adjust from such lessons if indeed it wants to lead Africa.
Nigeria and Togo led in signing the ECOWAS agreement in 1975. Both of them are subservient to superior dictates of world economy led by IMF and World Bank somehow coined macro-economic dictates. Sometimes one gets worried when Nigerian policy makers do not see how dependent the country is to bigger economic players in this world. France saw that when faces with WASPIAN dominance and quickly adjusted; with Britain and USA together France knew it can’t be counted. Today, it has gradually made Germany to be on its side in driving European Union and even when dollar dictates the euro has also taken shape as a competitive currency since 1999. So, great countries with great vision do not fear competition. So, one wonders why Nigeria that started ECOWAS and had worked hard to sustain it does not see opportunity in creating a common currency and even allowing other Africans to come and learn from its success.
Nigeria produces graduates in abundance and they are to be made to face challenges as bigger prospects of better Africa come their way and they should be encouraged to take the risk, so says indirectly afropreneur project. As the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu says change begins with education and it is education that helps in confronting ‘enemies’ that are already at the entry gates of Nigeria. Indeed they are opportunities as against being enemies if education is directed rightly to reap from them for greater Africa. Morocco’s entry into ECOWAS seen as threat and common currency seen as capable of undermining Nigeria’s economy are all uncalled for as Nigerian youths could marvel the seemingly anachronistic bent of their leaders.
Failure to face the threats and opportunities presented by the current issues of common currency and extended Ecowas territory request could be worse than what Bakassi peninsula turned to be for Nigeria as wrong policies and discourse conflicts from unpatriotic people clashed with those of Patriots.
During Shagari era, I travelled from Lagos Nigeria crossing Aflao Togo, through Accra, Takoradi Ghana to Abengourou, Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire on road and the Nigerian currency, naira was highly sought for in all the borders. Why didn’t intelligence report guide on how to sustain such leverage? My first application to travel to Canada was during Abacha era and the interview and payment processes were in Accra Ghana and it was Naira that I took to the bank in Ghana before proceeding to the Embassy and it was perfect. So who says Nigeria cannot be capable of handling issues of monetary convergence. ECOBANK was conceived in Nigeria and it is everywhere in Africa and what many an uninitiated may not know is that Nigeria bears the greatest risk in it. The Morocco being feared competes favorably with Nigeria in many of these financial institutions to the extent that current Africa- Re chairman is a Moroccan as well as second immediate predecessor of Adesina in AfDB was also.
Today to the dollar, naira is about 0.34; Leone of Sierra Leon is even greater with 0.01 as well as CFA with 0.02. Ghanaian Cedi is worse with 230, the same as Moroccan Dirham with 100. it means plenty cedies and dirham to get one dollar as against lesser CFA, so why be frightened in the common currency quest as Nigeria and Morocco, controlling their own currencies are seen as budgetary delinquents compared with Sierra Leone and CFA countries; so who learns from who to be more prudent.
The CFA countries who are already trading with Morocco – before ever Dangote’s business found interest there and Nigeria got involved – have a better budgetary discipline than Nigeria; and, so ,could help Nigeria restrain itself. Like someone said, Africa is still in economic prison so why should it fear further incarceration. It can only liberate itself if it learns the ropes from the CFA semi incarceration that is gradually suffocating the euro. Both Morocco and Nigeria that claim to be controlling their currencies are not doing well vis a vis what the dollar or euro impose on them as CFA could claim some degree of empathy from euro. However, Nigeria could learn from Morocco on how best to manage its domestic economy as one sees better management of internal resources in Morocco. Commodities produced in Morocco are cheaply available internally and externally. Nigeria does not yet know how that works in terms of balancing the equation in favor of hard currency or beefing up external reserve. Most of the fruits they eat in Europe come from Morocco and they do not reject them as their packaging is excellent. Even Royal Air Maroc provides services that make it look competitive and it gets hard currency for the kingdom. Nigeria is yet to learn the right mix to get there hence it should not be afraid of Morocco but draw it nearer for benchmarking purposes. Morocco knows what it is looking from ECOWAS but Nigeria seems not to know the greater benefits for Nigeria. The Maghreb is in disarray and Morocco is the one-man standing there. Others live by what they can get from a better organised Morocco. Whether Tunisia, Algeria, Libya or even Mauritania that is begging to come back to ECOWAS, they remain a burden to Morocco and Morocco keeps on scoring more goals while working hard to contain them. Even in sub-Saharan Africa Morocco is making Nigeria look little.
Just think about this : while Nigeria is spending $5billion to rehabilitate lake Chad a Moroccan company, Platinum Power, is partnering with Congo to undermine the source of the rehabilitating or replenishing source of lake Chad via Oubangi river flowing from both Chad and CAR as they construct dams. So on that Nigeria is on a wild goose chase if it doesn’t ally with Morocco in any possible agreement.
Moroccans, everywhere you see them, talk with great confidence as if they act the way Nigerians do in their daily survival quest. In Marrakech I marveled at their hustle and bustle attitude. Their government is also conscious of such hustle and bustle the way Nigerian government does not, especially in the north that seems to have similar culture. Moroccan women are everywhere at work. They are first workers you see at the cleaning sites at the airports, no dressing biased codes. Nigeria needs them to be a match for better benchmarking process for governments in the north and for the Nigerians who want to travel for adventure purposes. Note that from Morocco to Europe is the shortest distance from Africa and no one hears of their people drowning in the Mediterranean sea the Nigerians drown there following Libya.
LET ECOWAS SET A PROBATIONARY PERIOD for Moroccan membership of ECOWAS and fix some strings to it so as to make it hassle laden for Morocco it ever backslide the way Brexit is giving pains to elegant and gentle Theresa. For sure to lead Africa both in AU and in UNO, Nigeria must learn to exercise inclusiveness the way USA did after the second world war.
Victor C. ARIOLE , MBA, PH.D
Professor of French and Francophone Studies
Uwem November 20, 2017
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