President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in Abuja heaped praises on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for opening his country’s borders to accommodate millions of refugees in dire need of humanitarian support.
It would be recalled that the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), had last week urged Buhari to be wary of the antics of Erdogan, accusing him of arbitrary arrest, torture, political killings, long imprisonment of opposition figures and critics, particularly members of the Hizmet Movement.
However, speaking at a joint press conference on the occasion of the official visit of the Turkish leader to Nigeria, Buhari said his Turkish counterpart has set an example to the rest of the world on how to treat refugees.
‘‘I commend Your Excellency for your leadership and generosity in receiving and accommodating 4 million refugees fleeing from conflict areas particularly in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. You have indeed set an example to the rest of the world,’’ the Nigerian leader said.
Buhari 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.
He noted that it was the second time he has had ‘‘the pleasure of receiving my Brother in Abuja.’’
On the accomplishments from the visit, President Buhari said:
‘‘During the visit, we held 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 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.’’
President Buhari said President Erdogan’s meeting with a Joint Session of the Nigeria and Turkish Chambers of Commerce and Industry, before departing Nigeria, would be another opportunity to engage and exchange views on more productive ways of pushing ahead the socio-economic ties between the two countries.
He thanked the Turkish President and the First Lady for commissioning the Turkish Cultural Centre in Abuja as well as opening the newly renovated Government Secondary School in Wuse, Abuja, undertaken by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIIKA).
In his remarks, President Erdogan stressed that Turkey was determined to improve relations with Nigeria to ‘‘higher levels on all fields’’.
He said the trade volume between both countries reached 2 billion dollars in 2020, making Nigeria the outstanding and the biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.
‘‘However, we still believe that this level of trade we have achieved is far from being adequate. We hope and pray that we will be expanding our trade volume up to 5 billion dollars immediately.
‘‘We hope that the relations between the two nations will be further developed on the basis of a win-win scenario and mutual respect ,’’ the President, who spoke through an interpreter said.
Commiserating with Nigeria on the attack in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State, which claimed several lives, the Turkish leader pledged that his country would further cooperate with Nigeria on counter-terrorism as well as in the fields of military, defence and security.
‘‘We are ready to share our ever expanding capabilities with Nigeria especially in the field of defence industry and security, which has been praised by the entire globe.
‘‘This sensitivity that we have showcased in fighting terrorism, I hope will be reciprocated by our Nigerian brothers, sisters and counterparts,’’ he said.
The Turkish President announced that his country has increased its diplomatic presence in Africa to 43 missions, adding that the third round of the Turkish-African business forum will be held in Istanbul this October while the third Turkish-African partnership summit will follow in December.
President Erdogan expressed delight that many Nigerian students are currently studying in Turkey and benefiting from scholarships.