This is according to a piece published on Sunday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled ‘Takeaways from President Buhari’s epic visit to Turkey.’
The Presidency was referring to “some Turkish investments, schools and hospitals associated with an opposition figure linked to the abortive coup and attempted assassination of President Erdogan.”
According to a report by The Punch published on October 21, 2021, the Turkish President, Recep Erdogan, during a joint press conference with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in Abuja, said that the terrorists who tried to remove him through a coup in 2016 are still active in Nigeria.
Erdogan who was on a two-day official visit to Nigeria had in 2016 accused allies of a renowned cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who own Turkish schools and hospitals across Nigeria, of sponsoring the coup.
Turkish envoy in Nigeria, Mr Hakan Cakil, had at the time called on Buhari to close these Turkish schools and hospitals in Nigeria belonging to a group of private Turkish investors who are inspired by the philosophy of the Hizmet movement.
The Nigerian government, however, rejected the proposal, straining relations between both countries.
In what appears to be a reconciliatory move, Erdogan in October told Buhari that his administration would continuously share intelligence with Nigerian authorities.
On Sunday, shortly after Buhari’s return from Turkey, the Presidency said “As we go into January next year, a team from the Turkish defence establishment is expected to be in Nigeria in the effort to advance the discussions on the issue of military procurement.
“The national security component equally has a Turkish angle to it and one that turned to be one of the gains, in the sense that both countries have a common view of what Turkey perceives as a security threat to their nation and its leaders present in Nigeria.
“This is about some Turkish investments, schools and hospitals associated with an opposition figure linked to the abortive coup and attempted assassination of President Erdogan.
“This had existed as a critical but unspoken issue, with the potential to undermine the relationship despite the strong bond of friendship based on trust between the leaders of the two nations. It appears however that a strong common ground and understanding is reached.
“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.”
It added that “While protection of foreign investment is sacrosanct, the government clearly will not allow interest, individual or group, to undermine the very warm and cordial relationship between the two nations.”
Referencing Turkey’s interest in Africa, the Presidency opined that “the embrace of Turkey by Africa is a logical path to follow, given that the country had gone through the big economies in search of economic and national development, abandoned that process and became, on their own, the fastest growing economy in Europe.
“Turkey is serious about working with Africa in a win-win relationship. Though not yet accepted as a member of the EU, it is a major player in the continent in many ways and is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Turkey also has strong links in the Middle East.
“In Asia, the competition is stiff, with China, Japan, South Korea and the rest. But see what discipline, national mobilization and determination have brought Turkey to where it is today. So, Africa may seem for them, a good bet for solidarity and market.
“For us on the continent, it is not in doubt that the big countries are not outrightly helpful at all times. In some instances, as with the COVID-19 vaccine, we have seen how it might become right.”
According to Shehu, in going to Turkey, the position of the President’s team was: If the partnership through the multilateral process works for us, it will help.
“All six ministers on the delegation held meetings with their respective counterparts to deepen the good bilateral relations between us. We went there in search of partnerships, partnerships that Nigeria stands to gain from.
“When he came here in October, President Erdogan and President Buhari had the two countries sign three Memoranda of Understanding, MoUs, and four agreements on a variety of subjects that included political consultation, energy, hydrocarbons, mining, youth, double taxation and the reform and development of the Defence Industries Corporation, DIC in Kaduna.
“The starting point of this engagement was the meeting between the two leaders-President Muhammadu Buhari and the Turkish counterpart, Recep Erdogan. The tone of this meeting was itself set by the officials who accompanied the President: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency. And from all accounts, the meeting met all expectations: Turkish leader Erdogan agreed to work with President Buhari in tackling insurgents and other security challenges facing this country,” the Presidency said.
On Infrastructure, the Presidency said Turkey has achieved so much in something very close to the heart of Buhari.
“As it is now, we are reliant on just one country for infrastructure and Turkey should help us to diversify.
“From these bilateral meetings, the ground has been laid for the setting up of education, health and leisure projects including the proposal for a big hotel and conference centre project in Abuja.
“In the not-too-distant future, the administration of the Federal Capital Territory will be receiving a team of investors including the world-famous Ma’arif Foundation to be shown exact locations for the setting up of a five-star hotel and conference centre, schools and a world-class hospital.”
It added that President Buhari was in Turkey on a special request by the Turkish President saying “By an earlier agreement, the number of African leaders at the four-yearly summit was rationalised to just 15, and leaders were chosen to attend as representatives of either the African Union or the elected leaders of sub-regional groups such as ECOWAS, the South African Development Community, and the rest.
“ Each sub-regional leader presented a representative statement, and in the case of ECOWAS, it was President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, its Chairman. No national statements were planned for, except for Nigeria where our President was given a special speaking opportunity.”