Former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said diversification with continued concentration of power and resources in a central government would slow down the achievement of freedom, development and advancement of the society.
Atiku who was the chairman of the African Veterinary Association (AVA) and the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) Congress held in Enugu yesterday said, “if we diversify the economy 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 peoples’ productive and entrepreneurial energies.”
Atiku who described the theme of the congress: “The vets and economic diversification in Africa” as apt, said one cannot expect a state that confiscates economic resources such as rent to genuinely and enthusiastically promote diverse economic activities.
“Can we realistically expect such a state to embark on the political difficult task of levying and collecting taxes from its citizens and allowing itself to be held accountable?” he queried.
He challenged the congress to “consider these issues and the role of democratic government 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?”
He urged the two professional bodies, AVA and NVMA, to play a critical role in improving African agriculture, especially veterinary health and the quantity and quality of the country’s animal protein intake as well as the prospects of earning vital foreign exchange from exporting meat and dairy products to the rest of the world.
“What should Africa’s position be on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), to what extent should Africa embrace GMOs as a way to improve our agriculture and nutrition? What are the risks, if any? You can help with evidence-based advice to Africa’s governments rather than one governed by fad, fear or paranoia.”
He further tasked them not to forget to work to improve their profession, starting with improvements in veterinary education and training as well as professional regulations, to ensure high quality and ethical practices.