The National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi (rtd), Thursday said the failure to squarely address the root causes of unrests in the country has created an avenue for the recruitment, indoctrination and training of terrorists and other groups threatening the national security.
Speaking Thursday in Kaduna, at the Northern Impact Summit, organised by the Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative ( ATEI), Azazi also noted that the recent events in the Middle East and North African region had shown that long term failure to address long standing economic problems help erode national cohesion and the ability to advance as a nation.
According to him, "from a practical perspective, evidence is mounting that some of the root causes of unrest and the feeling of dissatisfaction and disaffection amongst citizens are economic hardship and the lack of economic opportunity. This is the case, not only in the North, but all over Nigeria. The failure to address these root causes of unrest tend to create fertile ground for the recruitment, indoctrination, brainwashing and training of terrorists and other insurgents."
Represented at the occasion, by his Adviser, Prof. Soji Adelaja, Azazi who spoke on the theme: "Northern Nigeria, The Prosperity Agenda and National Security", maintained that although the incidences of terrorist attacks had been concentrated in the north, it has adversely affected the nation's economy.
He stressed that the economic prosperity of a region was a national security issue which all Nigerians must join hand to address, adding that lopsided economic development of any nation has never worked anywhere as such lopsidedness was capable of leading to the collapse of such a nation.
He said as a nation, Nigeria cannot afford to leave any of its states or regions behind in the march towards prosperity, adding that comprehensive regional economic transformation will remain at the forefront of the government policies.
"As we have learnt from the recent events in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, long term failure to address long standing economic problems help erode national cohesion and the ability to advance as a nation.
"Some may think that the prosperity of northern Nigeria is not a national security issue. However, those that are more informed realized that the long term stability and security of Nigeria is intrinsically linked to the socio-economic performance of every single region," he said.
He noted that "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.
"Within this framework, we cannot as a nation afford to leave any region behind. If we solve some of the key hindrances to our economic development, Nigeria will be one of the leading economies in the world in the next 10 years."
He stressed further that desires to occupy its rightful place within the comity of nations and therefore cannot afford to leave any of its states or region behind in this march towards a long overdue achievement of prosperity.
According to him, "the lopsided economic growth is not in the best interest of our national security. I applaud the ATEI for recognizing 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.
"But the process we define to advance our economic ambitions must be based on best practices and what is well proven in economic development. No meaningful transformation can happen without clear recognition that there is a problem.
Also in his remarks, , Vice-President Namadi Sambo called on Nigerians to be tolerant and live in peace with one another, stressing that peace is a pre-requite for any meaningful development.
Represented by the Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, Alhaji Mukthar Ramalan Yero, Sambo said the recent security challenges in the country, especially in the northern part of the country was alien to the country and called on all Nigerians to embrace dialogue.
He said the present administration's vision is to transform the country positively to ensure the security of lives and property of all Nigerians.