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Small arms retard Africa’s growth says Nigerian President Jonathan

African continent cannot develop as long as developed countries dump small arms and light weapons on the continent, says Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Friday

Jonathan, who is scheduled to speak to the G8 summit on its Millenium Development Goals, told journalists he would raise his concerns with world leaders, calling arms proliferation “one of the things that disturb me most.”

“The excessive dumping of small arms and light weapons in Africa is one of the major factors that retard the economic growth of the continent,” he said.

“I have said it severally that we don?t manufacture these small arms and light weapons. They are manufactured by the developed societies but dumped in Africa and they have become a major source of our own underdevelopment,” Jonathan said.

He said the “excessive and free use of small arms and light weapons” had become so prevalent in southern Nigeria that the commercial city of Aba “was almost closed down for weeks without economic activities.”

“That tells you that in a place where you don?t have peace, you can?t have economic activities that can stimulate wealth creation,” Jonathan said.

He linked the spread of such weapons to political instability as well.

“That is why you see a lot of military organizations struggling to topple governments in Africa,” Jonathan said.

“Where the governments are relatively stable, they use them (weapons) for criminal activities like piracy, trans-border crimes, armed robberies, and causing general insecurity, and even kidnappings.

“If these things are allowed to continue, then of course, economic development of the African continent will continue to recede instead of advancing,” Jonathan said.

Nigeria is a regional power in west Africa where the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) last year banned arms transfers by member states to non-state actors without the approval of the importing country.