President Recep Erdogan and President Muhammadu Buhari
Erdogan, Buhari

OBINNA EZUGWU

Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, today, met with President Muhammadu Buhari, as part of his working visit to Africa.

Erdogan during a joint press conference with Buhari in Abuja, expressed concern that the group which his government branded as Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) – referring to the Gülen movement which runs schools in Nigeria- is still active in the country.

The Turkish president blames the group, led by Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim preacher who has lived in the United States since 1999, for the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt against his government.

In the speech delivered in his native Turkish and interpreted by one of the officials on his entourage, Erdogan asked Nigeria to join his country to forge a solidarity in the fight against terrorism in the two countries as one of the oldest allies of Turkey in Africa, having seen 60 years of diplomatic ties.

“Distinguished members of the press, as Turkey, we have been closely monitoring the developments unfolding in Nigeria, our brotherly and friendly nation,” he said.

“The terrorist organisations, the armed gangs and the marine bandits are continuously active in Nigeria and the Nigerian authorities are continuously fighting against them. So, in order to cooperate further in the fields of military, defense, and security, we are doing everything that will be available.

“As we’re probably aware of the fact that Turkey has been fighting against terrorist organisations for many decades, such as the PKK, PYD, FETO, DASH and other terrorist organisations.

“The perpetrator of the heinous failed coup of July the 15th, FETO, is still illegally active in Nigeria, and we are continuously sharing our intelligence with the Nigerian interlocutors and authorities. I hope and pray that our Nigerian brothers will forge a closer solidarity in this field with us, the Republic of Turkey. I hope and pray that our visit will yield the most auspicious results and I would like to thank my distinguished brother, President Buhari, for being such a gracious host for me and for my delegation.’

Harping on the importance of bilateral relations with Nigeria, Erdogan noted that the volume of trade between Nigeria and Turkey will be expanded by $5 billion, to boost socio-economic ties between the two countries.

He stated that Turkey is willing to partner with Nigeria on security challenges and also expressed optimism the relations between Nigeria and Turkey grows.

“We hope and pray that we will be expanding our trade volume up to 5 billion dollars immediately,” he said.

“We hope and pray that the relations between the two nations would be further developed on the basis of a win-win situation and in the basis of mutual respect.”

In his own remarks, President Buhari commended the Turkish President for opening his country’s borders to accommodate millions of refugees from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, in dire need of humanitarian support.

He described the two-day visit of President Erdogan and the First Lady, Emine Erdogan, as a reflection of the ‘robust, warm and cordial bilateral relation between Nigeria and Turkey.

“The key issues we touched on included a Series of Bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding that had been finalised.

“As a positive outcome, eight major Agreements/MoUs on a number of the key sectors including Energy, Defense Industry, Mining and HydroCarbons among others were signed today. We have agreed that implementation is to commence immediately.

“In the course of our discussions, we also reviewed the travel ban list based on the revised COVID-19 protocols and removed Turkey from Nigeria’s Travel Ban List. Turkey has indeed achieved remarkable success in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” Buhari said.

Buhari added that Nigeria and Turkey held very useful discussions on a number of bilateral issues, aimed at strengthening this cordial relationship between the two countries.