Tuesday, November 1, 2016


I am still at a loss for words over the utter disrespect recently shown to Nigeria, by Turkey. Over 50 Nigerian students were arrested in Turkey on the eve of our nation’s independence anniversary, on the orders of the Turkish Government. They were detained in some crampy, dirty room under the flimsy excuse of being ‘students of a terrorist organization.’ Then some of them were made to sign documents giving consent to their deportation back to Nigeria…some were eventually deported back home! How preposterous!
For those who might not understand the genesis of this brouhaha, I will attempt a brief explanation. A coup took place in Turkey on July 15th 2016. It didn’t last long though; as the coup plotters were overpowered by the citizenry. By July 16th, it was over. But then, it left in its wake, 200 dead, and thousands injured. Immediately, the Turkish President, Recep Tayip Erdogan, embarked on a crackdown of those suspected of instigating the coup; and in the same vein, he pointed fingers directly at an exiled moderate cleric, Fatullah Gulen, as being the mastermind of the coup. Erdogan demanded his (Gulen’s) extradition from the US- which has so far not been granted- and began shutting down all institutions and organizations connected with the Gulen movement.
As part of his revenge mission against Gulen, Erdogan did not just seek to shut down institutions associated with the Gulen movement within Turkey; but even outside Turkish shores. The Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Hakan Cakil, a while ago, requested that the Nigerian Federal Government shutdown 17 universities for alleged links to Gulen’s Hizmet movement. For all intents and purposes, Nigeria did not grant that request- and rightly so! I mean, the request went against all norms of diplomatic association and conduct! Foreign powers do not get to call the shots in another SOVEREIGN nation- not in peacetime! More so, there was no single established evidence of terrorist activities to incriminate any of the proprietors of the 17 schools!
Thus, with the request denied and Turkey probably feeling slighted, it resorted to embarrassing our students in its country…students who had committed no crime against the Turkish state! How disrespectful!
Will Turkey do this to American students? Will Turkey even do this to South African students? I doubt this. So, why do this to a supposed friend- Nigeria?
Turkey and Nigeria have had bilateral relations since 1962, when Turkey opened its first embassy in Lagos. Both nations have MOU’s in areas of politics, trade, education, and security. In terms of financial aid, Turkey doesn’t give dollars to Nigeria. So, is it the training of Nigerian policemen, or the pledge made months ago to aid in the fight against Boko Haram, that would cause the Turkish Government to flex its muscles in the affairs of a sovereign country like Nigeria in the most disrespectful way? Turkey’s actions would be expected from some failed rogue state with an erratic dictator at its helm *side eyes at that madman in North Korea*; not a card-carrying member of the NATO alliance with one foot in the Mid-East and the other in Europe! As a citizen of Nigeria, I am appalled!
I read that a diplomatic row may be brewing between Nigeria and Turkey- as it should at this point. I mean if this stunt had been pulled with students of other nations (say Russia for example), the Turkish Ambassador in that country would have been expelled! But our Nigerian Government is still towing the path of civility; even though none of that civility was accorded to us by Turkey. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs dragged its feet before summoning the Turkish Ambassador to give an explanation…and there has been no news since as to if the Ambassador obeyed the summon! *shaking my head*
Nigeria is not a failed state. Nigeria is a democratic sovereign republic that should be accorded all the respect of all other sovereign republics in the comity of nations. And if we don’t show to other countries that we are not push-overs, who knows who would decide to pull this sort of stunt on us tomorrow? Maybe Niger Republic! I know that seems far-fetched; but it’s a small world…others are watching…and learning.
We don’t have to go to war with Turkey over the issue, but I dare say we must take resolute action quickly to show that we would not be treated with such disdain. Besides, what do we have to lose? Our policemen can get trained elsewhere- not as if their overseas training has yielded genuine positive results so far...they're still sleeping on duty and collecting bribes *Oga/Madam, anything for the boys?*! Besides, It’s not as if Turkey is giving us anything for free. Turkish Airlines flies 3 routes into Nigeria weekly- Lagos, Kano, Abuja- so they’re also gaining from us. And like I said before, the agreements between both countries are ‘bilateral’- they gain and we gain…we probably even gain less.
In conclusion, enough is enough already! This is the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and in the voice of Birdman, Turkey must learn to “put some RESPEK on our name!”

No comments: