The Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Hakan Cakil, has affirmed that Nigeria remains his country’s strategic partner in sub-Saharan Africa for the past 50 years. He dismissed as spurious allegations that 50 Nigerian students are being detained in Turkey following the post-failed coup crackdown.
Cakil, who is 15 months old in Abuja as the country’s chief envoy, told The AUTHORITY on Tuesday that Turkish investments in Nigeria have crossed the N240 billion mark and opportunities for more growth exist.
“Turkey has a “strategic economic relationship with Nigeria. Nigeria is Turkey’s strategic partner in Sub-Saharan Africa. This relationship dates back to more than 50 years,” he said.
In his breakdown of the investments, Cakil disclosed that N180 billion is direct Turkish investments in the country while the balance of N80 billion covers investments in partnership with Nigerians.
According to the envoy, “in 2014 alone, the volume of trade between Nigeria and Turkey was $2.5 billion but the figure dropped to $1.5 billion in 2015 because of the crash of crude oil prices in the international market.”
Noting that Turkey enjoys a strategic business relationship with Nigeria in the oil and gas sector, he said that there are over 70 Turkish companies operating in the country, while there are about 100 Nigerian businesses in Turkey.
His words: “Nigeria is one of the biggest providers of liquefied natural gas to Turkey. Turkey imports gas from Russia, Qatar and Algeria but Nigeria provides us with LNG unlike the three other countries.”
On the allegations that Turkey detained 50 Nigerian students, the ambassador said that there is no foreign student either from Nigeria or elsewhere that is held by Turkish authorities at the moment.
Rather, he explained that the government has transferred 259 Nigerian students studying in private universities that were closed down by the government after the coup to state universities.
“I can tell you that there is no truth that 50 Nigerian students are detained in Turkey. Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called me twice when the news came that 50 Nigerian students have been detained in Turkey.
“I spent one week in Turkey to clarify this. At the end, it was discovered that the report is false. There are no Nigerian students under detention or arrest. None of the foreign students is detained or subjected to arbitrary treatment,” he insisted.
He revealed that the Turkish Embassy had to sponsor the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to Turkey to investigate whether or not 50 Nigerian students were in detention in the country.
Cakil said: “NANS led a protest to our embassy demanding the release of 50 Nigerian students some days ago. I came out and addressed the students. I asked them to nominate one person to go to Turkey and find out the truth. NANS president was nominated and we sent him to Turkey. He spoke with Nigerian students in Turkey. He spoke with key authorities in the country. He returned on October 22 and admitted that no Nigerian student is in detention. I challenge anybody to visit Turkey and find out the truth.”