Security, Trade Take Centre Stage in Nigeria, Turkey Agreements

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•Buhari, Erdogan sign eight MoUs

•Countries to collaborate on fight against terrorism

•Turkish President: Terror group that tried to topple my govt active here

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The need to improve security and trade between Nigeria and Turkey formed the highlight of the bilateral agreements signed yesterday in Abuja between President Muhammadu Buhari and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The discussions culminated in the signing of eight Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between the two leaders.

The eight critical sectors that elicited the MoU between the two nations included energy, defense, industry, mining, and hydrocarbons.

This was made known to newsmen by President Buhari and Erdogan, after a close-door meeting at the State House, Abuja.

President Erdogan also requested Nigeria to join his country to forge a solidarity in the fight against terrorism, saying the terror organisation, Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), which was responsible for the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt against his government, was still active in Nigeria.

On the positive gains of the visit of the Turkish leader to Nigeria, President Buhari said both countries discussed issues and signed agreements aimed at further strengthening the diplomatic relations between both countries, especially security and defense, as well as trade and commerce.

He said: “I’m happy to welcome my brother, His Excellency, President Tayyip Erdogan, and his wife, First Lady of Turkey, that have been visiting Nigeria for the past two days. It is a reflection of our warm and cordial bilateral relations that this is the second time I’ve had the pleasure of receiving my brother in Abuja.

“During the visit, we had very useful discussions on a number of bilateral issues, aimed at strengthening this cordial relationship between Nigeria and Turkey. The key issues we touched on included a series of bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding that have been finalised.

“As a positive outcome, eight major agreements, MoU 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 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,” he said.

The President commended President Erdogan for providing a safe haven for about four million refugees, who had to flee their war-torn home countries in search to peace and safety.

On his part, speaking in his native Turkish language and interpreted by one of the officials on his entourage, President Erdogan recognised Nigeria as one of the oldest allies of Turkey in Africa, having seen 60 years of diplomatic ties.

According to him, steps would immediately be taken to expand the trade volume between the two countries to $5 billion, as the $2 billion mark achieved last year could not be said to be substantial enough.

He said: “Thanks for the bilateral discussions we’ve had with Nigerian President, Mr. Buhari, we’ve had the opportunity to observe and to assess all aspects and dimensions of the relations between Turkey and Nigeria and we had also exchanged our opinions and impressions as to how much further we can develop and strengthen our relations between our two countries. It gives me great pleasure to confirm once again that in terms of expanding our cooperation between the two nations, we share the same resolves.

“We shall be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two nations and Nigeria hosts one of the oldest diplomatic missions of the Republic of Turkey on the African continent. Nigeria is one of the outstanding members of international organisations, such as the G8, OIC, ECOWAS and the African Union, as well as being one of the most leading countries of both this region, and the rest of the world.

“We should appreciate the tremendous efforts of Nigeria with eventual goal of bringing peace, stability, and economic development to the entire African continent. Nigeria holds the manufacturing position of the entire continent, and our trade volume between the two nations reached $2 billion last year. Thus, Nigeria became our most outstanding and the biggest trade partner in the sub-Saharan Africa for the Republic of Turkey.

“However, we still believe that this level we have achieved is far from being adequate. We hope and pray that we will be expanding our trade volume up to $5 billion immediately. We hope and pray that the relations between the two nations will be further developed on the basis of a win-win scenario, and on the basis of mutual respect”.

On the beneficial ties between Turkey and Africa, especially Nigeria, President Erdogan said, “we’ll keep on converging with the African continent as Republic of Turkey on every dimension possible. All relations are based upon the foundation of strategic partnership, and we are gaining new momentum every time we visit the continent.

“We have increased the number of our diplomatic missions on the African continent up to 43 recently. The third round of the Turkish-African Business Forum will be hosted in Istanbul on October 21, and the 22nd, only to be followed by hosting of the third Turkish-African Partnership Summit on December 17, and 18th. We are committed to expanding our relations and our cooperation further with Nigeria.

“It also gives me great pleasure to be able to observe that many Nigerian youngsters are pursuing their further education, not only in Turkey, but also in the universities of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and it gives me great pleasure to observe that they’re also benefiting from the turkey scholarships available to them”, he said.

The Turkish President used the forum to request Nigeria’s collaboration with Turkey in the fight against terrorism in both countries, noting particularly that his nation had been following Nigeria’s fight against insecurity, particularly the activities of terrorists.

He added: “As Turkey, we have been closely monitoring the developments unfolding in Nigeria, our brotherly and friendly nation. 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.

“On this occasion, I also would like to take this opportunity, once again, to extend my most heartfelt condolences to our brothers and sisters of Nigeria, who have lost their lives as a result of terrorist attacks and I hope and pray that Allah will bestow upon those who stay behind, the utmost patience and strength.

“We are ready to share our ever-expanding capabilities, as the Republic of Turkey, with Nigeria, especially in the field of defense industry and security, which are being praised by the entire globe.

“This sensitivity that we showcase in fighting terrorism, I hope, will be reciprocated by our Nigerian brothers and sisters and our counterparts. 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”.