Why too much power is centralised at the centre, by Atiku | Nigeria News Today. Your online Nigerian Newspaper

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Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday blamed dictatorship and corruption in most African societies for the centralisation of too much power and resources in the central governments.



He warned that the continent would not go far in achieving freedom, and growth in the societies, unless the countries decentralise power and resources.

He spoke at the African Veterinary Association/Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association Congress in Enugu, with the theme: “Towards Economic Diversification and Sustainable Development in Africa”.

He made it clear that if economic activities were diversified without modernising them, the African continent would not go far.

He said: “If we diversify sources of government revenue but continue to concentrate too much power and resources in the central governments in African diverse societies, then we won’t go far in achieving freedom, development and advancing our societies.”

The former vice president regretted that five decades after most African countries gained political independence, their economies remain mostly mono-crop economies, largely dependent on export of single primary commodities, such as minerals and agricultural products.

Atiku observed that the prices of these commodities were determined internationally by factors over which the African countries have little influence and the prices often fluctuate rather widely, making the economies very vulnerable to externally induced shocks.

He noted that reliance on single primary commodities retard industrialisation and manufacturing, add little value to the economy and high consequences for politics of African societies.

“These include the preponderance of rent-seeking, state dominance of economic activities, vicious struggles for state power and the attendant corruption and trends towards dictatorship.

“And we continue to have challenges with poor infrastructure and insecurity, both of which discourage investment and tourism, deteriorating educational system and inadequate support and promotion of research and innovation.

“But our potentials are enormous if we truly want to turn our fortunes around. And we must. The diversification of African economies is obviously critical and one thing around which we have consensus in Africa and within our various countries,” Atiku said.

He described diversification of the economy as a genuine change in policy and practice that results in the promotion of diverse economic activities by citizens and corporations in ways that contribute significantly to economic growth, employment, rising incomes and government revenues through taxation and other resources.

“As you deliberate, consider these issues. And consider the role of democratic governance in the quest for the diversification of Africa’s economies? Does it help or hurt for people to have a say in how they are governed, including economic governance, policy development and the accountability of leaders?

”As professional bodies, AVA and NVMA have critical roles to play in improving African agriculture, especially veterinary health and the quantity and quality of our animal protein intake as well as the prospects of our earning vital foreign exchange from exporting meat and dairy products to the rest of the world,” Atiku said.

On the position of Africa on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and what extent Africa should embrace it as a way to improve agriculture and nutrition and the risk if any, Atiku urged the participants to help with evidence-based advice to Africa’s governments rather than one governed by fad, fear or paranoia.

He however urged the veterinarians not to forget to work hard to improve their profession, starting with improvements in veterinary education and training, and professional regulation to ensure high quality and ethical practices.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of awards of excellence to the ex-vice president, Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Eddie Agbo, the inventor of urine-based malaria test kit by the African Veterinary Association.

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