President Goodluck Jonathan stated that the restoration of peace and security in the terror plagued region was essential for the successful implementation of the measures and actions envisaged in the intervention programme.
“I think economic marginalisation is at the root of the security problems in the north east [region]. The Nigerian economy last year, produced forty trillion naira worth of value added. Only about 1.3 trillion came from the North East,” Dr Ayo Teriba, CEO, Economic Associates told CNBC Africa.
“You are not talking of 10 per cent which would have been five million, [which is] a little over 2.5 per cent of the GDP in Nigeria so in the face of economic marginalisation, the residents become restless and it is that restlessness that is producing what we see.”
The region has suffered the Boko Haram insurgency since their uprising in 2009. The president said that the damage caused needs aggressive and urgent action but this can only be achieved with the support of the people.
“The advantage of the North East compared to the North West, is not agriculture, they produce only five per cent. They do livestock but again the total output of the livestock happening in Nigeria is about a trillion whereas you have about 12 trillion crops. Their advantage metal ores,” he explained.
As the economy of the country is driven largely by the oil production in the South, there is a huge neglect of the metal ore industry in Nigeria and much to the detriment of the economy.
“We gain from oil but that is confined to the South primarily, we gain from crops and agriculture raw materials which is confined to the north west and north central [regions]. If we could explore ore, which is concentrated in the north east, that would have been their advantage,” he said.
However, Teriba believes that until the North East can be connected to the coast by rail, metal ore is unlikely to be a serious source of economic activity. Thus highlighting the need for infrastructure and integration.
“You need to connect the North East to the oil region, and to the ports, for the economy of that region to boom.”
As there will be short and medium term issues, regular meetings need to be held to create and sustain development in the region as inclusive growth needs takes time.
“The fact that this summit is taking place for the second time, is good development, it means that we’ve done it before. Let’s hope it becomes more regular,” he added.