The National Security Adviser (NAS), Gen. Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd), yesterday stated that the failure to address economic hardship and lack of economic opportunity have opened a fertile ground for the recruitment, indoctrination, brainwashing and training of terrorists and other insurgents in the country.
Azazi, who spoke on “Northern Nigeria, the prosperity agenda and national security” at the Northern Impact Summit organised by the Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative in Kaduna, also stated that Nigeria cannot stand divided despite the security challenges.
“One glue that holds our great nation together is the expectation that, in the aggregate, we are better off together than in isolation from each other and that the achievement of prosperity is easier when we pursue it collectively. This means that our leaders must focus on the Nigerian “value added”, ensuring that the whole is better than the sum of the parts,” Azazi said.
According to the NSA whose remark a forthnight ago is still generating controversy, even though the incidence of bombing and terrorist attacks had been concentrated in the north, the economy of the country has been negatively affected by the trend. The lopsided economic development of any nation has never worked anywhere and is capable of leading to the collapse of such a nation, he said.
Represented on the occasion by one of his advisers, Prof. Soji Adelaja, Azazi said that the long-term failure to address long-standing economic problems helps erode national cohesion and the ability to advance as a nation, citing events in the Middle East and North African countries to buttress his point.
Nigeria cannot afford to leave behind any part of the country in the quest towards prosperity, he stated, adding that a comprehensive regional economic transformation remained a focal point of the current administration’s policies.
He said: “We owe it to ourselves and future generations to finally occupy our rightful place within the comity of nations. Nigeria can ill afford to leave any of its states or region behind in this march towards a long overdue achievement of prosperity.
“I can certainly assure you that the lopsided economic growth is not in the best interest of our national security. I applaud the Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative (ATEI) for recognising that unique attention needs to be paid to the north; that a credible agenda is critical to the north’s success and that leadership is needed in advancing such an agenda”
Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, who was represented by the Kaduna State deputy governor, Alhaji Ramalan Yero, said government shall continue to support groups and projects aimed at complementing government’s drive towards accelerated development of the nation.
“Our Transformation Agenda is fashioned in such a manner to be an all-inclusive agenda that would leave no stone unturned in positively transforming the fortunes of this great country,” he said.
Kaduna State governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa said it was regrettable that the north which boasts of more than 60% of Nigeria’s land mass with abundant natural resources in the agricultural and solid mineral sectors has been unable to turn such advantages into economic growth and development for various reasons.
Yakowa, who was represented by his commissioner for economic planning, Timothy Gandu, said that the incongruity in this whole situation is that the north seems to be rather leading in poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and, only recently, insecurity.