Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said while economic diversification is essential to development, Africa should not ignore modernisation of its economic activities.
Speaking at the African Veterinary Association and Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association joint Congress in Enugu yesterday, Atiku, who was the chairman of the occasion, said if African leaders diversify economic activities without modernising them, they would not achieve the desired objectives.
He insisted that diversification without modernisation ‘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.
“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,” he said.
The former vice president, explained that African countries should not only advocate a return to agriculture, but also seek to promote agricultural practices that aligned with modern times.
He said: “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 practised for so long, or the modern science and technology driven agriculture with its enormous productivity?”
He 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 agriculture, especially veterinary health, quantity and quality control.
He urged the veterinary practitioners to advise African governments on the need to improve animal protein, as well improve the prospect of exporting meat, dairy products and bolstering foreign exchange earnings.