Former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria has blamed West African leaders who form decision makers in Economic of West African States (ECOWAS) for the non-establishment and implementation of single currency for the West African market to ease economic encumbrance hindering the trade in the West African sub-region.
Obasanjo, who visited the two former Presidents of Republic of Benin, namely, Nicephore Soglo and Boni Yayi in Cotonou on Wednesday, declared that the lack of single currency has been a major impediments and economic barriers that seriously affects commerce, especially trans-border trade and movement of the traders, saying it was high time ECOWAS leaders worked on introduction of single currency that for improved economic activities in West African states.
He said, “It is our responsibility to call on our leaders in West Africa to come up with our one currency. They have already taken the decision in Togo, the Headquarters of our region, so, what is happening? We should ask them. We should tell them that enough is enough.
“I should be able to leave Abeokuta on a Sunday, come to Cotonou and have lunch and return without any hindrance. At Idiroko this morning, I have to submit my passport for entry, but, should this be so?
“If colonialism made it so about 50 years ago, should we still continue to do it in this century and age?
“The single currency will help to trade better within ourselves. If there are others who do not want us to trade with a single currency, we should also stop trading into their hands, if they are not ready to support us in his direction.”
Speaking on the heinous impacts of the old slavery and slave trade for which the West subjected Africans to before and during colonialism, Obasanjo joined his counterparts in Republic of Benin, Soglo and Yayi to push for the adoption of an annual work free day to celebrate history of slavery and slave trade on the African continent.
Obasanjo, who held a parley in Cotonou as follow-up to the conference on peace, security and stability in Africa earlier held in Tokyo, Japan last month, said that the move for the recognition of a day of slavery and slave trade in Africa could best be described as a “passionate move” that should be rigorously pursued in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.
He emphasised that the passion on not forgetting the history of Africa’s slavery as expressed by Soglo during the Japan’s meeting, “is the most pernicious and I have decided to work hard with those who share our sentiments on the issue.
“I shared in this passion, which is with a bit of agony, and I shared both of them with President Soglo, hence my coming here to Cotonou, and rub minds together and take it up from the there and take it to our leaders at the AU and the UN, which is the global body.
“While the past is the past, we may not forget that past, because if we forget the past, the chances are that we may repeat the mistakes of the past. So we agreed that after this meeting, we can for a start, take our position to the AU to push for a day to be called “Africa Remembrance Day of Slavery and Slave Trade”
The former chairman of the African Union explained further that Slavery and colonialism both have implication on the development of the continent, “as such, the new drive now, is an indication that as past leaders, God has kept us to be alive because, we still have unfinished job to complete for this continent.
“We will be shirking in our responsibility. We will not be performing our duty if we fold our arms and say, well, we have done our own, as we were former Presidents and there is nothing we can do than (except) to sit and watch. If we do that, I wonder if God we be happy with us. I really wonder.”
Soglo, in his speech, recalled that at the session in Japan, he was constrained to call the attention of Obasanjo to the issue of slavery, saying: “I must thank President Obasanjo for joining in this cause of not forgetting our history.”
The former Beninese President who went down memory lane on history of slavery and slave trade in Africa lamented that it was unfortunate that century after the practice, some parts of the continent still engage in the inhuman trade.
A former President of the country, Boni Yayi also shared in the sentiments and assured that supports would be given to actualise the dreams of the two great African leaders.