He also requested deeper economic integration among countries in Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as part of efforts to boost the economy and check unemployment rate among the youths across the West African coast, saying it was high time leaders in the region forged common economic front.
Speaking while receiving Marcel Alain De Souza, the newly-elected President of ECOWAS and his entourage in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital on Monday, Ex- President Obasanjo said that African leaders like never before, needs political will explore every means that could improve socio-economic development.
Although, he lamented that ECOWAS founding fathers never envisaged issues of internal crises that were experienced in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, which had retarded growth of member nations since 41 years of ECOWAS, he believes there still room for growth and development.
He said, “Let me emphasise that 41 years ago, ECOWAS was established, the expectation of all of us was very high, I think we will not be fair to ourselves if we do not say to ourselves we have not moved as fast, and as far as the expectation 41 years ago had been.
“But, as you have rightly said there has been issues that have come up that were unexpected, I think again we must tell ourselves the truth that there has not been enough political will on our part to move that sub-regional organisation as fast, and as far as we should have done.
“I have maintained that all of us in West Africa, in our different countries and indeed in Africa, we are sitting on a keg of gun powder for as long as we do not pay adequate attention to youths unemployment. A situation where more than 50 percent of our youths are unemployed, is extremely dangerous”.
“We now have a situation in part of West Africa where people now are dying of starvation. Is it that we are not producing enough food? Or if we are producing, are what we produce evenly? It is shameful for whatever that has led us to be begging international communities for supply of food to any part of West Africa, it is not right!”
While he offered his readiness to make himself available for ECOWAS services when needed, he declared, “We have decided that our unit of currency would be Eco, let us now start using Eco. Let Eco becomes our unit of currency.
“I will continue to make myself available in the service of ECOWAS, wherever you think my services will be needed, call upon me and I am ready, what is important is that, these communities of 320 million people will be lifted up, these communities should be marching along, we should get rid of internal conflicts.”
Speaking earlier, the new President if ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain De-Souza, who spoke in French, said he was in Abeokuta to introduce himself to Obasanjo as the newly-appointed President of the Commission, and to also get his advice and orientation on matters concerning ECOWA sub-regional growth and development.