Nigeria's ambassador to Ankara, Ilyasu Paragalda, has ensured Ankara that they are continuing to work together with Turkish authorities in order to control the activities of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) within the country and stressed that his country is well aware of the ramifications of terrorism.
"The Nigerian government has been informed about the presence of people in Nigeria who have alleged links to FETÖ and the operating of 17 schools. Nigeria continues to engage with the Turkish authorities to handle the issue," Paragalda said, underlining that the Turkish Maarif Foundation is also involved in the process.
As Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari visited Turkey last week to attend the Developing 8 (D-8) summit in Istanbul, he also held bilateral meetings with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Cooperative efforts to confront the activities of terrorists groups, including FETÖ, were on the agenda of both leaders.
"President Buhari's recent visit to Turkey provided the two countries a chance to meet and discuss the issue surrounding FETÖ," the Nigerian envoy stated. "We know what terrorism is and how it affects us. Nigeria stands all over the world in condemning terrorism and all of its ramifications."
Speaking at a press conference with Nigerian President Buhari on Oct. 19, President Erdoğan pointed out that Nigeria is a significant country in Africa with a population of over 182 million people. He added that Nigeria and Turkey "share the same fate on the issue of terrorism," stressing that both countries continue in their counterterrorism fight.
"From our perspective, there is no difference between Boko Haram, FETÖ, and Daesh," Erdoğan said, stressing that Turkey stands by Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram which targets civilians in the country and has caused the displacement of over 2 million people.
Ambassador Paragalda underscored that in their counterterrorism fight against terror groups, particularly Boko Haram and Daesh, both countries can learn from their experiences considering that the elements of Boko Haram infiltrated into Daesh.
The Nigerian envoy said that Boko Haram has been dismantled and does not occupy any territory in Nigeria. Highlighting the destructive impacts of the terrorist attacks of Boko Haram, Paragalda stated that over 2 million people have been displaced and 200,000 villages and 100,000 schools have been destroyed.
"We have been assured that Turkey will provide its best in terms of technology to help Nigeria fight against Boko Haram," he said, welcoming Turkey's support.
Commenting on bilateral ties, Paragalda said the President Buhari's visit to Turkey, along with his delegation which included five ministers, has been vital for relations between the two countries. He reiterated the significance of President Erdoğan's visit to Abuja last year as part of his Africa tour.
Paragalda stressed that prior to his visit to Istanbul, "President Buhari saw the area in Turkish Parliament that was damaged during the unfortunate coup attempt last year in Ankara." He highlighted that he hopes the positive impact of the leaders' meetings will continue.
As Erdoğan underscored last week that Turkey is ready to lend its support to Nigeria in necessary fields, especially in education, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) is set to open an office in Nigeria.
Speaking about this development, the Nigerian envoy said that more schools would be opened and there would be further opportunities in the region.
Paragalda also said that the two countries are keen on further enhancing ties among other members of the D-8. Nigeria and Turkey are members of the group along with six developing countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran and Egypt.
The ninth summit of the D-8 was held in Istanbul on Oct. 20, during which members decided to further encourage trade relations among member countries.
Visa liberalization for businessmen was also a topic of discussion during the meeting, with Paragalda saying that Nigeria is ready to host the ministerial D-8 meeting regarding trade and that businessmen of D-8 members are advised to attend the meeting alongside with their ministers.
Touching on ties between the people of Turkey and Nigeria, the envoy stated that the movement of people is essential in enhancing ties and called for improvement in the facilitation of visa procedures, so that more Nigerians will be able to visit Turkey for touristic purposes.
He added that Turkish Airlines (THY) plans to increase its number of flights to Nigeria, a move that is welcomed by Nigerian officials.
Leaving behind the implications of last year's coup attempt and the recession in Nigeria, Paragalda said that economic activities between Turkey and Nigeria have been on the rise. He stated that Turkish businesses are encouraged to invest in Nigeria and take advantage of opportunities in the agricultural sector which has huge potential in the country.
"With the improvement of visa services and an increase in the number of flights, more Turkish citizens can visit Nigeria to do business," he said.