Published on Oct 22, 2017 Greenbarge Reporters
But for the “diplomatic skills” of President Muhammadu Buhari, the government of President Recep Edorgan of Turkey would have had a head-on-collision with the government of President Buhair of Nigeria over the last year’s failed coup in Turkey.
The Nigerian foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, told news men in Istanbul, Turkey, that the government of Edorgan actually requested President Buhari to extradite over 1000 Turkey citizens in Nigeria, belonging to Fethullah Movement “FETO, which was declared a terrorists organization by the Turkish government.
The minister, who was in the entourage of President Buhari to the four-day visit to Ankara and the D8 meeting, in Istanbul, said: “there was the request for the extradition of some of the Turks in Nigeria who have been given asylum to remain in Nigeria and recognized by the United Nations (UN) as political refugees. The Turkish government requested that we extradite some of them. There was also the request that the schools and hospitals established by Gülen Movement should be closed in Nigeria. They labelled them Fethtulah (FETO) as a terrorists organization.
“These were all issues that were lingering and complicating slightly relationship between the two countries. So what this visit has been able to do I think is to put all those to rest and facilitated direct engagement and, what I will call, agreeing for a way forward between the two countries.
“Mr. President was very very good in that. He is a very good diplomat. Very very skillful diplomat. He was able to really douse the tension between the two sides while not compromising on principles of Nigeria. He did it very very well with a lot of diplomatic skills. The result has been that it has improved relationship between the two countries and government. The level of confidence between the two countries has also increased. It is a real diplomatic masterpiece.”
Onyeama said that President Buhari assured President Erdogan that Nigeria would not allow its territory be used as a breeding ground for any terrorist or group of individuals with the aim of destabilizing Turkey.
“The point was made and Mr. President with regard to the Gülen movement that under no circumstances would Nigeria allow itself to be a base for the destabilization of Turkey. And Mr. President came out very strongly in support of the democratic process and institutions of Turkey, condemning the coup attempt in Turkey and reassuring the Turkish government of Nigeria’s total support for the territorial integrity of Turkey, for the democratic governance in Turkey and the security of Turkey. Likewise the Turkish government made that reassurance to Nigeria. So once they got those different issues out of the way, it was much easier and they were more able to focus on what will transform the lives of Nigerians and the Turkish people.”
Onyeama spoke on other areas that would have sparked off diplomatic crisis that President Buhari was able to amicably resolve with President Erdogan to include the refusal of visas to some Turkish security personnels, IPOB issue, and the delay in the issuance of Turkish visas to Nigeria and the request to increase the number of flights of Turkish Airlines into Nigeria.
“With all the outstanding issues, he was able to really skillfully navigate through but at the same time mending all the ruffled feathers and fences. We were able to void making it what I will call antagonistic. The part that he really chatted was to look at those areas where we can cooperate and there would be win-win and would diffuse tension. They looked at economic areas, educational areas, economic development, operational areas and agree to allow the normal legal international processes to run their course with regard to the more sensitive issues.”
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