Abuja, Nigeria | PPU | Africa must work for prosperity through integration but more importantly, dedicate resources to ensuring strategic security, President Yoweri Museveni has said.
President Museveni was speaking as a special guest at the National Defence College of Nigeria in Abuja during the inauguration of the institution’s 26th class on Friday.
The elite senior officers’ class of 140, has students from 19 countries—including the host, Nigeria.
Museveni, who was accompanied by First Lady Janet on the two-day working visit, was invited to deliver a lecture on the theme “Sub-regional cooperation and the stability of member states…Economic Community of East African States in Perspective.”
Giving a synopsis of Africa’s political and economic problems, Museveni said poor political organisation was to blame.
Africa, he noted, had been the cradle of man, pioneer of civilisation and saviour of all modern religions, yet it had fallen to a host of afflictions which had ensured the continent was the most backward now.
“In the last 500 years, Africa has gone down. It has suffered all manner of afflictions, slave trade, colonialism, genocide, marginalisation, diseases,” he said.
“We should examine how the first became the last in the last 500 years. How could former Africans come and colonise us?” he asked. “Our academicians must answer that question. Except for Ethiopia, the whole of Africa had been colonised by 1900.”
Offering an answer, Uganda’s President Museveni said, “The problem was poor political organisation. Colonialists found us badly organised—as tribes, clans, a segmented society. It was easy to attack us one by one. We were at a disadvantage—of inadequate political integration.”
He also dismissed the notion that colonial masters had better military technology, pointing out that some of machines they used like muzzle-loaders were less efficient than weapons like spears.
Museveni also cited examples of other groups like the Chinese, Japanese and even Ethiopians who were better organised politically and therefore fended off colonial aggression.
A case for markets
Noting that Africans are similar and linked through the four major linguistic groups (Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, Afro-Asiatic and the Koisan), Museveni said the solution now lies in exploiting these linkages to foster integration and prosperity.
“The anti-colonial struggle was three-pronged, independence, democracy and prosperity,” he said. “We asked, how can people be prosperous in the modern sense?”
He said prosperity is driven by production and sale of goods and services, supported with availability of market.
“With no market, you can’t prosper. We therefore need a bigger market, explaining our push for integration,” he said. “Many Africans thought occupying administrative positions left by colonialists was enough. Permanent secretaries, undersecretaries, all types of secretaries—but that is not wealth. Where is the production?”
It is on that basis that he commended African leaders, who in 1980, came up with the Lagos Plan of Action that led to creation of the key regional blocs.