President Muhammadu Buhari hosted his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was on a two-day official visit to Nigeria starting from October 19.
Contrary to official claims, National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) was reading a different meaning to the visit. The pro-democracy group is urging Nigerians to be more vigilant, alleging that President Erdogan, President of Turkey’s trip was another step to further the Islamisation agenda of the Buhari administration.
While describing Erdogan as an Islamist whose leadership has led to the persecution of Christians, including the conversion of churches into mosques, NADECO USA is worried that the entire visit was shrouded in secrecy.
In a statement by its Convener, Lloyd Ukwu, in Washington DC, USA, NADECO said though the visit was billed as a business trip to purportedly negotiate the purchase of Nigeria’s gas, ‘’the intelligence community is worried that President Erdogan’s trip is to further the Islamisation agenda of the current government.’’
President Erdogan had in 2016 made a secret trip to Nigeria a few months after President Buhari took over power. Buhari is widely quoted to have declared his commitment to Islamise Nigeria in a speech he delivered at a seminar organized by the Supreme Council of Sharia in August 2001, a position that has endeared him to the Turkish leader.
NADECO said the Turkish President, Recep Erdogan, is equally known as the king of religious intolerance especially against Christians, stressing, “his record is public information and it stinks.’’
Continuing, the group said in 2020, President Erdogan ignored concerns from the global religious community as two former Byzantine churches in Istanbul, the famed Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, which served as museums for decades, were converted to mosques in the space of a month.
“Everyone is aware of how other religions are persecuted in Turkey. Erdogan himself is another religious bigot given his antecedent. The international community is equally worried about the visit. The visit has been shrouded in secrecy and billed as a business trip to negotiate the purchase of Nigeria’s gas’’, NADECO said.
Ukwu, who is also the Executive Director of the group in the US which comprises a coalition of groups from different ethnic nationalities in Nigeria said a report submitted to the International Human Rights Committee by a group of four International NGOs in May 2021 on President Edrogan’s autocratic leadership was damaging and disturbing.
According to him, the report concludes with questions regarding what measures are being taken to hold Turkey to the standards outlined in the ICCPR and international guidelines regarding religious freedom, legal rights of churches and individuals, and general discriminatory practices and attitudes towards Christian.
“NADECO and it’s coalition of ethnic nationalities, therefore, urge Nigerians to be more watchful and discerning during and after President Erdogan’s unwelcome visit to Nigeria especially at this time that Nigeria is grappling with alleged state-sanctioned religious persecution.
“The combination of Buhari and Erdogan is threatening and capable of endangering not only Nigeria but the West Africa sub-region.”
However, President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who confirmed this development in a statement, said the Turkish leader, was expected to arrive from Angola and depart for Togo at the end of his visit, will be accompanied by the First Lady, Mrs. Emine Erdogan.
”In the course of the visit, the leaders of the two countries are expected to consider about two dozen Bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and they will authorise the signing of those on which there is concurrence.
”In addition to the bilateral discussions, President Erdogan will hold a one-on-one meeting with President Buhari and he is expected to commission the Turkish Cultural Centre in Abuja”, Shehu disclosed.
He also revealed that Erdogan’s wife, Emine, accompanied by the Nigerian First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, would also commission the newly-renovated Government Secondary School, Wuse 11, by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordinating Agency, TIKA, a Turkish aid organization.
”Nigeria considers Turkey a close partner and sees this visit as a milestone in our bilateral relations,” Shehu said.