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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW - 'Turkey is making a correct decision by engaging with Africa'

'Africa is adjudged as the most profitable region in the world. Turkey is making a correct decision by engaging with Africa': Nigerian presidential spokesman

Ekip   | 20.10.2021
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW - 'Turkey is making a correct decision by engaging with Africa'

ISTANBUL

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Nigerian presidential spokesman Garba Shehu addresses various topics from Turkish-Nigerian relations to Turkey's engagement with the African continent.

Anadolu Agency: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a visit to Nigeria as well as Togo and Angola. How do you assess his trip to these countries? How would his official visits contribute to Turkish-African relations?

Shehu: It is often said that the best time to invest in Africa is now. Foreign investors have not moved into the continent as quickly as expected, citing non-existent risks. Notwithstanding, Africa is adjudged as the most profitable region in the world. Turkey is making a correct decision by engaging with Africa.

Q: Do you think Turkey’s approach to African countries differs from the West? If so, in what ways?

Shehu: Turkey and Nigeria share much in common. As far back as 1996, Nigeria - Turkey Joint Economic Commission was initiated during the visit of former Turkish Prime Minister, H.E Dr. Necmettin Erbakan to Abuja. The two countries have since held four sessions in each other's capital. But for the Pandemic, the 5th would have been held. The effective engagement of the two states in this area alone is statement on the strength of the relationship as well as the seriousness of commitment binding the two states.

Q: What is on the agenda regarding Turkish-Nigerian relations; in trade, culture, and importantly defense areas?

Shehu: There are many issues important to the two countries up discussion in the course of the two-day visit.

There are, for instance about two dozen bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding, MOUs that may possibly be concluded and signed, covering broad subjects such as avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with regard to taxes on incomes, education, cultural agreement, trade, investment promotion and protection, immigration and customs, military cooperation among many others.

Q: How do you see the Turkish-Nigerian relationship in the future? What are the benefits of this friendship as well as the challenges?

Shehu: Nigeria and Turkey have maintained diplomatic relations since independence with Turkey having a resident Ambassador in Lagos since 1962. Political relations between Nigeria and Turkey have been cordial. Our Embassy in Ankara has facilitated several high profile visits of both serving and former presidents of Nigeria, Vice Presidents and serving and former Governors, Leaders of Parliament, Royal fathers as well as trade and investment promotion activities.

Turkey and Nigeria, being actively involved in the D-8 organization, the OIC and others enjoy a win-win relations taking into consideration the immense economic potentials that are capable of transforming the two states. The only way to go from here is forward.

Q: What is your view on Turkey’s sale of drones to African countries with respect to the fight against terrorism?

Shehu: This is up to the Turkish state which owns the technology. Nigeria welcomes all partnerships that can help in the elimination of terrorism from our land and from neighboring states.

Q: From your point of view, what is the meaning of Turkey’s investment in Africa?

Shehu: The robust trade relations between Nigeria in particular and Turkey especially in areas of oil and gas and Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG is encouraging and we are glad that trade relations between our two states have continued to increase. There exists a strong interest in Turkish private sector in Nigeria and, understandably, a similar yearning on the part of the Turkish Private sector for an enhanced business and investment engagement in Nigeria. We see huge opportunities in the development of small and medium scale enterprises as well as Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

Q: How do you assess the activities of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and Maarif Foundation in your country?

Shehu: TIKA has made an everlasting mark on the affairs of Nigeria and more is expected from them. We are glad that the Turkish First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs. Emine Erdogan will commission a Turkish-renovated Government Secondary School, Wuse while H. E President Erdogan will commission the Turkish Cultural Centre in the Federal Capital city, Abuja.

Q: For the last decade, a lot of African students got their education in Turkey thanks to “Türkiye Scholarships” and turned back to their own countries. In what ways, do you think, this contributes to Turkish-African relations?

Shehu: Nigeria is in full appreciation of Turkish government's efforts in boosting Nigeria's educational sector through grants of scholarship to Nigerian students both at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Today, we have a growing body of Turkish alumni who are contributing to the development of the nation in various sectors of the economy.

Nigeria is ready to welcome investment in this sector by the Maarif and other Turkish investors.

Q: How President Erdogan’s visit is perceived by the public in your country?

Shehu: There is much admiration in the country for President Erdogan who is seen a champion for the promotion of the interests of the middle-income and less developed countries. The actions by Turkey under his leadership through security cooperation and military support received to combat the Boko Haram menace and insurgency in the North East very much appreciated.

Q: Lastly, you know that Turkey has been fighting with FETO terrorist organization in many areas. Considering the activities of the FETO terrorist organization in Africa, how do you think the countries could improve cooperation with Turkey on this issue? During President Erdogan’s visit to Nigeria in 2016, the leaders agreed on further and solid cooperation regarding this issue. What steps have been taken so far?

Shehu: Nigeria respects the sovereignty of nations and as a policy does not allow the use of its territory and state institutions for the subversion of other states. This is even more so for friendly states like the Republic of Turkey, the leader of which country shares a lot respect, camaraderie and friendship with our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the course of the visit to Turkey in 2016, President Buhari gave strong assurances that Nigeria will stand with Turkey and would not allow anything that undermines Turkey as a friendly nation to be done by anyone using our territory. That position remains the same and will not change.

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