President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, has reached a contentious agreement with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to put some Turkey-linked enterprises in Nigeria under surveillance. ayokinews.com reports
According to AfricaReport, the goal is to secure the Turkish government’s cooperation in terms of infrastructure and military assistance, especially given the country’s high rate of insecurity.
Recall that in 2016, Nigeria and Turkey were both embroiled in a diplomatic row.
The Turkish President, who had just survived a coup and assassination attempt, was on a mission to uncover and apprehend all those responsible for the attack, which killed 300 people.
The coup plotters, he alleged, were related to the “Gulen movement”, which Turkey has labeled as a terrorist organization and is directed by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish businessman and influential preacher who lives in exile in the United States.
Gulen, a former Erdogan friend, has repeatedly disputed the charges, claiming that he doesn’t know 99 percent of the members of his powerful movement, which has between three and six million followers worldwide.
Erdogan attempted severally but failed to extradite Gulen from the United States, so he began contacting African leaders with the goal of closing down all enterprises associated with the Gulen movement in their nations.
On July 28, 2016, Hakan Cakil, the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, urged Nigeria to close 17 Turkish schools linked to the Gulen movement in the country.
“We are requesting the Nigerian government to close down the schools… I have requested officially, both orally and in writing, the closure of these schools.”
“Also, I have sent a letter to Mr Geoffrey Onyeama (foreign minister) and Mr Abba Kyari (chief of staff to the president) about this subject and requested their support for the closure of the schools,” he said.
Aside from schools, hospitals and other enterprises were among those affected.
However, because Nigeria was in the midst of one of its greatest economic downturns in history at the time, the government was hesitant to comply with such a request.
The appeal would not be entertained until the Turkish government supplied adequate evidence, according to Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.
The Turkish authorities was further enraged by Nigeria’s negative response, as numerous Nigerian students studying in Turkish schools overseas were arrested, while others were deported for reasons that were never given.
At the time, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, President Buhari’s Diaspora Affairs adviser, stated to local media that “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the permanent secretary, summoned the Turkish Ambassador immediately the information was received.”
“While both countries are working at resolving the issue through every possible diplomatic channel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made it clear that such acts against Nigerians will not be accepted.”
As a result, firms in Nigeria affiliated to Gulen began eliminating Turkey from their identities and rebranding totally, while maintaining their Turkish orientation.
The Nigerian Turkish International College (NTIC), which has branches in Kaduna, Abuja, Kano, Yobe, Ogun, and Lagos, is one of these companies. Nigerian Tulip International School is the new name of the school.
Nile University is now the name of the Nigerian Turkish Nile University. Nigeria’s elite patronized the Turkish Nizamiye Hospital, which was simply renamed Nizamiye Hospital.
Despite these moves, Turkey has stayed steadfast.
Melih Ulueren, the current Turkey Ambassador to Nigeria, announced in 2019 that the Turkish Maarif Foundation had been established to take over all commercial holdings tied to the Gulen movement at an event commemorating the coup’s third anniversary.
After failing to take over the Gulen movement’s financial holdings in Nigeria, Erdogan decided to take a different tactic and make a difficult-to-refuse offer to Nigeria.
With the recent increase in insecurity and its many facets, such as banditry, terrorism, and kidnapping, the Nigerian government is in desperate need of weapons and intelligence. Also, with the impending arms embargo by the US Congress due to human rights concerns, Nigeria needed to explore other options, and unlike the US, Turkey would be willing to partner with Nigeria without such stringent human rights conditions.
Erdogan assured President Buhari during his October 2021 visit to Nigeria that his administration would continue to share intelligence with Nigerian officials, a direct reference to Nigeria’s security morass.
He was quick to point out that individuals responsible for the failed coup in Turkey were still active in Nigeria, and that a deal had to be struck.
Erdogan was quoted as saying, “The sensitivity we show in fighting terrorism, I hope will be reciprocated by our Nigerian brothers and sisters and our counterparts. The perpetrators of the heinous failed coup of July the 15 FETO are still very active in Nigeria. And we are continually sharing our intelligence with Nigerian interlocutors and authorities.”
Buhari quickly announced the removal of Turkey from Nigeria’s COVID-19 red list as a sign of good faith. The Nigerian President announced that he has signed eight substantial agreements with Turkey in a variety of key industries, including energy, defense, mining, and hydrocarbons. Erdogan was also complimented by Buhari for opening his country’s doors to millions of refugees in desperate need of assistance.
Buhari was also in Istanbul recently for the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit. Several agreements were secured during the visit, which Presidency officials praised as “epic.”
In a Facebook post, Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, stated that the presence of Turkish technology will undoubtedly speed up the process and efforts to “rid Nigeria of pockets of terrorists and the menace of kidnappers and bandits. From their wide experience and advances in technology in fighting terrorism and banditry, they have a lot to give and they have assured us that they will give that support.”
“The government of Nigeria will not allow any part of our territory to be used to undermine a friendly state such as Turkey. Under our strict Central Bank and Financial Intelligence Unit’s governance structure and management, money from the investments in issue cannot be moved anywhere to finance subversive activities,” Shehu said.
Aside from Turkey’s military support, President Buhari wants Erdogan to help Nigeria build infrastructures, which has previously been China’s exclusive domain.
A five-star hotel and conference center, as well as schools and a world-class hospital, are slated to be built in Abuja by the Marif Foundation, which is supported by the Turkish government.
Source: Sahara Reporters