Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari said Saturday in Dead Sea, Jordan, that opening up more economic opportunities to underprivileged groups was integral to the realisation of global peace. Buhari stated this when he addressed the two-day World Economic Forum on Middle East and North Africa, which opened on Saturday.
The president, who attributed Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria to lack of inclusion, lamented that while some individuals experienced increasing opportunities for prosperity, others barely struggled to survive. He said it was situations like this that triggered tensions and conflicts.
Buhari told the world leaders, “It is at this point that we must ask ourselves how we, as a region, got to this point. The answer, at least in the case of Nigeria, is the lack of social and economic inclusion.
“As Nigeria celebrated being the largest economy in Africa and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Nigerians were migrating in droves through harsh desert conditions and across treacherous seas to seek what they believe would be a better life in Europe.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I strongly believe that the lack of social and economic inclusion was the root cause of many challenges we are experiencing.”
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement,
said the president also submitted that changes taking place across the world in technology, population, migration, trade and geo-politics had been yielding both positive and negative results in different parts of the globe. Adesina said Buhari called for more collaboration across borders to reverse the tides of frustration fueling conflicts, describing the Middle East and Africa as the regions that have grappled with “dramatic shifts and shocks” from recent global events.
According to the statement, the president said Africa was blessed with very young, vibrant, enterprising population and abundance of natural resources. He added that such endowments had resulted in notable economic growth rates in the world.
Buhari, however, lamented that in spite the rich natural endowments, Africa, particularly the North and sub-Saharan Africa, was host to deadly terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram, in the last one decade.
The president was quoted as saying, “It is my view that no region of the world has felt the full impact of these dramatic shifts and shocks like the Middle East and Africa – North and Sub-Sahara.
“On one hand, our region is blessed with a very young, vibrant, enterprising and dynamic population. We also have valuable natural resources that are the envy of many nations.
“These assets and endowments contributed to our region experiencing some of the highest economic growth rates in the world. On the other hand, however, we have also been hosts to some of the deadliest conflicts in recent history. The deaths, damages and destruction caused by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram over the last 10 years will take decades to repair.”
But, according to Adesina, Buhari observed that terrorism around the world, including the activities of Boko Haram, had been significantly degraded, insisting that while insurgents are no longer in control of any part of Nigeria, the country has borne the burden of rebuilding the devastated territories.
He said the Nigerian leader canvassed cooperation among nations as a necessary element in overcoming the enemies, especially in the digital age.
Adesina quoted Buhari as stating, “In this digital age where physical borders no longer exist to protect even the most secured nations, the only way to overcome predatory and divisionary forces is for all well-meaning nations to work together for the greater good of mankind.
“Simply put, cooperation amongst sovereign nations is no longer a choice. It is an absolute necessity.
“We are extremely grateful to the many countries that have stood with Nigeria to confront this global scourge and, in particular, the Kingdom of Jordan under the leadership of His Majesty, the King.
“Furthermore, our economic diversification and social inclusion policies are also yielding positive results. Our country has now returned to the path of growth. We are making gains in the ease of doing business indices.”
Buhari stated that Nigeria had achieved moderate and inclusive growth in the last four years and stressed that both Africa and the Middle East must focus on policies predicated on shared economic prosperity for all citizens and pay attention to investment and trade.
“Opportunities exist in key job creating sectors, such as agriculture, health, tourism, ICT, infrastructure as well as textile and garmenting, to mention a few. Our new, inclusive and diversified Nigeria is definitely open for business. Our population, resources, policies and programmes make it the most attractive investment destination in Africa,” the president added.
According to the statement, the host, King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, said inclusive growth would be beneficial to the entire world, especially after creating an enabling environment for youths and women.
“The king of Jordan said opportunities must be expanded fast, while noting that the challenges we face are not only problems to be solved rather they are opportunities for collaboration,” the statement said.
“UN Secretary General Secretary-General António Guterres said the world will be better off with stronger collaboration, commending Jordan for playing a historical role in restoring peace in the Middle East, especially between Israel and Palestine.
“The founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab, who congratulated President Buhari for his re-election for a second term, said discussions at the forum will focus on new ideas, entrepreneurship, innovation, environment, peace and reconciliation,” Adesina said in the statement.