Kano -The country's second highest Muslim leader said in his first interview broadcast on Tuesday that more investment was needed in the country's conflict-ridden north to prevent radicalisation.
The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, said the government in Abuja had to tackle social and economic deprivation in the region because the situation was "fertile ground for breeding extreme ideologies".
Sanusi was appointed Emir of Kano in June, succeeding the previous incumbent Ado Abdullahi Bayero, who died aged 83 after a long battle with cancer.
As Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, he was previously the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria but was ousted after claiming that the state-run oil firm misappropriated $20 billion (15.5 billion euros) in public funds.
His appointment as emir prompted protests and claims of political manipulation, as the governor of Kano state is a member of the main opposition party and Sanusi was an outspoken government critic.
The role of emir is politically neutral by tradition.
In the interview, for BBC television's Focus on Africa programme, Sanusi said that residents in the Muslim-majority north were "economically excluded and politically disempowered".
He did not mention by name Boko Haram, the Islamists who have been waging a bloody, five-year insurgency in the region, but added: "There is grounds of resentment and then it's very easy for people to come up with all sorts of lunatic ideas and people accept them."
He said it was important for the militants' advance to be stopped militarily but there had been little focus on areas such as agriculture, "Western education" and job creation to improve living standards.
"As long as people are gainfully employed, they're not likely to jump onto the bandwagon of insurgency," he added.
Nigeria's military are under pressure to crush the rebellion after Boko Haram seized territory in the far northeast in recent weeks, declaring one captured town part of an Islamic caliphate.
In March this year, Nigeria's national security adviser Sambo Dasuki unveiled a broader plan to tackle the insurgency that included "soft power" measures such as social and economic development for the north.
The plan won praise at the time but with no improvements in security since then, critics say little if anything has been implemented.