Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, has identified politics of identity as Nigeria’s greatest problem to achieve its developmental goals, saying unless citizens do away with it, the country’s quest for economic growth will remain a mirage.
Museveni who said the problem was not only in Nigeria, but also in other African countries, said that those who emphasised on politics of identity are doing a disservice to their countries, and to Africa as a whole.
The Uganda president, who disclosed this at the National Defence College, Abuja while delivering the Course 26 Inaugural Lecture titled “Sub-Regional Cooperation and the Stability of Member States: Economic Community of East African States in Perspective.”
He said: “You Nigerians should stop playing politics of identity. I am Fulani, or I am Yoruba. No, it should be primarily politics of interests based on where your prosperity comes from,”
“Every member of my ethnic group in Uganda has cow and milk, but we cannot achieve prosperity by selling these products to ourselves, so we have to look beyond our ethnic group to achieve prosperity.”
Accompanied to the event by the Uganda Foreign Affairs Minister and Uganda Ambassador to Nigeria, Museveni lamented that African countries should begin to examine themselves within the context of how a continent of many firsts 3,500 years ago became the last in all fronts in the past 500 years.
“In the last 500 years, Africa has gone down. It has suffered all sorts of afflictions, slave trade, colonialism, genocide, marginalisation and diseases”, he said.
According to him, African countries would have been built around five pillars of attainment of independence, entrenchment of democracy, prosperity, security and preservations of the cultures of the peoples.
But such lofty goals, he argued, could not be achieved for many reasons, chief among which were lack of unity, slave trade, colonialism, poor political organization and the fact that African countries were fragmented politically into kingdoms and chiefdoms.
The Uganda leader argued that the Chinese and Indians were not making much progress until they opened up their economy around 1978, noting that in 1978 Chinese exported goods stood at 8 billion dollars, while it is standing at 2 trillion dollars now.
“China Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in 1978 was 218 billion dollars, compared to 11,222 trillion dollars today, while Indian’s Gross Domestic Products of 202 billion dollars is standing at over 11 trillion dollars today,” President Museveni said.
He, however, warned that economic prosperity cannot guarantee strategic security as it should be noted that countries like France and Poland that could be adjudged as prosperous and technologically advanced were annexed by Germany before World War II.
President Museveni, who further argued that political integration for economic prosperity should be the strategic anchor for African security, asserted that in contemporary world, emphasis is on human resources than natural resources and therefore Africans should invest more on human resources for its growth and development.