Vote for free market

Youths from four African countries gathered at Ibadan Business School in Oyo State to discuss how the continent can overcome its  challenges. It was at the regional conference of African Students For Liberty (ASFL). OLUWAFEMI OGUNJOBI was a participant.

Which economic model is suitable for Africa’s development? Participants at the two-day West African Regional Conference of the African Students For Liberty (ASFL) could not agree more with speakers at the event, who believe that the free market system remains the best for the continent.

Scores of youngsters from Kenya, Burundi, Ghana and Nigeria gathered at Ibadan Business School for the conference.

To Emeka Adimmadu, a professor of Evolutionary Economics, who spoke on Africapitalism: The future of Africa’s economic development, Africa’s quest for economic freedom should start with reforms in its institutions, which he said would bring about programmes that would support poverty reduction, political pluralism, widespread prosperity and free market economy.

He explained that the empirical relationship between governance and economic freedom made a case for liberalism. Africa, he said, is unique in character and history, stating that free market capitalism was inherent in African traditional system in the mediaeval period.

Kalu Aja, a fiscal management expert, who spoke on How welfare destroys the economy, said government’s intentions for the creation of welfare programmes were noble, but noted that the policy must be judged by its effects and not its intentions. Welfare programmes, he said, have not ended poverty. He posited that welfare programmes dragged down a country’s economy, because more resources are committed to cater for people who did not contribute to the country’s growth.

He said: “Welfare creates a culture of dependency and entitlement. It removes the incentive for active labour force to seek paid employment and penalises marriage which is proven as a way to escape poverty. Welfare drains the fiscal purse of the government, reducing funds for other areas of the economy.”

Linda Kavuka, an advocate at Kenyan High Court and ASFL Executive Board member, spoke on How gender-based stereotypes limit individual liberty and expression. She gave practical explanation on why individuals should do away with stereotypes, and stand up for what they believe in irrespective of gender.

Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, ASFL Programme Associate, explained how foreign aids hurt local growth. He said foreign aids and stiff government regulations have made it difficult for business to thrive in Africa, observing that aids may be seen as a kind gesture on the surface, but said it has terrible economic consequences.

Olumayowa Okediran, Director of African Programmes for Students For Liberty (SFL), engaged the participants in discussion on how regional integration would benefit Africa. He said creation of boundaries remained inimical to Africa’s development, saying colonial systems destroyed the unity and pride of Africans.

He said: “The colonial masters prevented us from exploiting potential in inter-state trade and movement of goods, which could boost not only our individual economies but our continent’s development. The barriers have allowed corruption to thrive in our system.”

Olumide Makanjuola, the Executive Director of The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs), spoke about abuse of human rights and how it tears Africa apart. Makanjuola presented a strong argument on the rights of individuals to live in a society, irrespective of their belief and sexual orientation.

According to him, any form of oppression that would deny people their rights to live in a way that may abridge their happiness must be fought.

Former Editor of The Guardian, Martins Oloja, spoke on Using media and communication tools to promote human rights. Oloja said the media is a powerful force for the promotion of freedom and justice in the society. He urged the participants to create good content for the media that could help prevent abuse of rights and promote justice.

Chairman of ASFL Executive Board, Oluwafemi Ogunjobi, in his opening remarks, said the conference was aimed at engaging young people and professionals in discussion that could change African story for good.

The event was sponsored by Atlas Network in the United States (U.S.). Participants went home with branded SFL T-shirts and books, including Why Liberty and Voices from Africa, and compact discs donated by Foundation For a Free Society.

The post Vote for free market appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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