Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has stated that before the global community can begin to respect Africa, the continent must take the lead in human and resource development to eradicate poverty and reverse its downtrodden economy. Delivering the 40th anniversary lecture of the Guardian Newspaper on Tuesday in Lagos with the
Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has stated that before the global community can begin to respect Africa, the continent must take the lead in human and resource development to eradicate poverty and reverse its downtrodden economy.
Delivering the 40th anniversary lecture of the Guardian Newspaper on Tuesday in Lagos with the theme “for the world to respect Africa…”, Akinwunmi decried the stagnancy of the African region and how the developed nations are spoon-feeding the continent despite its enormous natural resources that should have placed it at the forefront of the recognition in the world.
The Afdb President explained that Nigeria, as Africa’s giant, has failed to reach its potential, and as a result, there is growing concern that the continent will be denied respect unless there is a change in tide and strategic actions that will drive the path of the continent back to earning its deserved respect.
Highlighting the challenges militating against Nigeria and Africa’s development, Dr Adesina began with the proliferation of poverty in the continent, indicating that poverty has eaten deep into the continent, with half of the region battling with extreme poverty.
He explained that for the continent to gain respect, the continent must take strategic action that will take Africa away from being at the lowest end of the value chain among other regions of the world.
Decrying the concepts of the poverty alleviation programme, he advocated accountability and good governance to end the mismanagement of resources in the continent.
He said “Respect is never a given, it can not be purchased, it must be earned, and it is earned not based on rhetoric or request, it is earned based on actions, concrete actions, and consistent actions over time. We must take a critical look around this, the underdevelopment and poverty in the midst of plenty and the fact that we are far behind other regions despite our enormous resources and determine that enough is enough. Poverty must become a comparative advantage of Africa. Nearly half of the world’s and one third of all the minerals are in Africa. With its vast mineral resources and human resources capacity, Africa should not be where it is today.
Nigeria and many other African nations were once at the same level of development as some east asian countries notably Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and several others, we must really ask ourselves, where will we make the shift that South Korea made from being a country that was once on the low end of the development line to the rich industrialised nation that it is today. There was also a time when it was difficult for South Korea to obtain loans from the World Bank, today, South Korea is the 7th largest export of goods in the world. Not only that, its GDP per capita is 266%. We must therefore find solutions to our many challenges in Africa, while we must deal with bread and butter development issues strategically as we set ourselves for also becoming wealthy nations. We must ourselves in a position that we also can give to earn our respect .
Africa should not be a museum of poverty, that is why there must be poverty accountability from the government”
“Poverty should be eradicated. Not with ‘Poverty Alleviation’ programmes. You do not plant a borehole in a community and think you have contributed to eradicating poverty because, in 2023, every Nigerian should have running water in their household. Leaders should be held accountable for resources by the people”, he said.
He further explained that Africa must provide electricity for the expansion of industrialisation and for the continent to start producing instead of its consumption tendency which has been a long standing practice in the system.
The Afdb President maintained that the continent will also attract respect from global community when it can provide healthcare for its people, adding that the continent will be 85% richer once the challenge has been eradicated.
“Africa will gain respect when it can provide universal electricity for its people, and drop the title of ‘the dark land’ of the world… 100% electricity is what is acceptable, and that is what we should have as continent”.
Africa will gain respect when it can provide universal healthcare for its people…If you get primary healthcare right, 80% of the healthcare issue has been resolved…A healthier Africa will definitely be a richer Africa.”
Speaking on Nigeria’s inability to harness its mineral resources to formidable economic impacts, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina lamented that Nigeria, despite being an oil producing country, has failed to have an active refineries. He however expressed his hope in Nigerian president being able to turn the country’s situation around.
“Nigeria is struggling to refine its oil despite being one of the largest exporters of crude oil in the world.
Nigeria is developing too slowly and far below it’s potential; and I am hopeful that the administration of Bola Tinubu would revive manufacturing in Nigeria.”
The two-in-one event also witnessed the presentation of a book ” if federalism is the answer, what is the question?”, a publication by the Guardian Newspaper to commemorate its 40th anniversary. In his speech at the presentation, Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, Director General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) called for a demilitarised federalism in Nigeria governing system.
Speaking on the challenges of true federalism in Nigeria, the former Vice Chancellor of the Igbiniedon University, Edo State expressed concern over the lack of true federalist in Nigeria, despite the consistent call for federalism in the country, adding that one cannot operate without the other.
He further submitted that the clamour for true federalism should not be a prototype of the Western ideology, instead Nigeria must look beyond and domesticate the federalism according to its peculiarities and its heterogeneous complex as an entity.
In his conclusion he alluded to the fear of domination by majority groups as the another strong constraints federalism, as such he urged the stakeholders to look inward for a lasting solution to this.” The greatest problem bedevilling our federalism back in the 1960s and which is still existent today is that people feared being dominated -domination by larger ethnic groups.”
Other dignitaries present at the event such as the special adviser to the President on information and strategy Bayo Onanuga, who represented President Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, the governor of Ogun State who was represented by his deputy, Noimot Salako-Oyedele and the Lagos State governor who was also represented by the secretary to the state goverment, Bimbola Salu- Hundeyi shared their goodwill messages as they felicated The Guardian Newspaper.