By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
Enugu, 01 Nov 2016: Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said, while economic diversification is essential to development, Nigeria and indeed African countries should not also ignore the necessity of modernization in economic activities.
Speaking at the African Veterinary Association and Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association joint Congress in Enugu on Minday, the former Vice President, who was the Chairman of the occasion, said if African leaders diversify economic activities without modernizing them, they would not achieve the desired objectives.
According to him, diversification without modernizing “won’t go far. If we diversify sources of government revenues but continue to concentrate too much power and resources in central governments, we won’t go far in achieving freedom and development in advancing our societies.”
He also expressed fears that “if we diversify our economies but still let the state dominate economic activities as a major investor and competitor against the private sector, we will be unable to unleash our people’s productive and entrepreneurial energies.”
The Turaki Adamawa, explained that African countries should not only advocate for a return to agriculture, but also seek to promote agricultural practices that are in sync with the modern times.
“I think we need some clarity in our definitions and prescriptions on this issue. When we say that we need a return to agriculture, do we mean the ancient agriculture that we have practiced for so long, or the modern science and technology driven agriculture with its enormous productivity?” Atiku queries.
The former Vice President also challenged African countries to address the question of diversification, saying: “We must decide if the diversification that we talk about means making agriculture attractive to educated people or leaving it at the domain of the illiterate or less educated.”
Atiku said African veterinary doctors have critical roles to play in improving African agriculture, especially veterinary health, quantity and quality control.
He called on the veterinary practitioners to advise African governments on the need to improve on animal protein, as well improve on the prospect of exporting meat, dairy products and bolstering foreign exchange earnings.