By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – The Federal Government has accepted offers by the Turkish authorities to set up new schools and hospitals in Nigeria.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in a special feature tagged; Key Takeaways from President Muhammadu Buhari’s 4-day engagement in Turkey.
The Government of Turkey, on July 28, 2016, had alerted the Federal Government on the existence of schools and hospitals owned by suspected “terrorists” in Nigeria and demanded that the facilities be shut down.
The Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Hakan Cakil, who gave the alert when he received the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Shehu Sani, said the owners of the schools allegedly sponsored the July 15, 2016 failed coup in Turkey.
Cakil said the institutions, which ranged from schools to hospitals, were allegedly owned by the Fethullah Gulen Foundation, adding that similar schools established in Turkey had been shut down.
The presidential aide, however, stated that a new investor, the Maarif Foundation for education was introduced to the Nigerian delegation to take up the establishment of schools and hospitals in Nigeria.
He disclosed that a delegation from the foundation would visit Nigeria to commence the process of registration as well as following the procedures of establishing the new schools.
“The two countries agreed to expand cooperation in exchange of scholars, exchange of students and exchange/sharing of ideas, skills and education technology and to improve scholarships for Nigerians to study in Turkey,’’ he added.
Shehu revealed that Nigeria and Turkey also agreed to resolve the issues relating to Nigerian students in Turkish universities that were facing exclusion due to visa challenges.
He said: “Nigeria and Turkey have equally agreed to strengthen and promote investments in health institutions and this, as promised by the President will proceed quickly.
“That is as soon as the details of the various agreements reached in the bilateral discussions are laid on his table.’’
On defence, the presidential spokesman said the two countries agreed to strengthen defence and military cooperation initiated a few years ago.
“This had already led to the establishment of the Defence section in the Turkish Embassy, Abuja in 2013 and Nigeria’s Defence section in Ankara in 2016.
“In the latest rounds of discussions, Nigeria and Turkey penned an agreement on military training,’’ he said.
Shehu said the two countries also agreed to collaborate towards the upgrading of the Defence Industries Corporation (DIC) in Kaduna into a Military Industrial Complex of Nigeria.
He said that two Turkish companies were already collaborating with the DIC in the production of arms and ammunition.
“Of the two companies, one is establishing a rifles production line and the supply of raw materials, technical assistance and training.
“The second one is partnering the DIC in the conceptualization, designing, consulting, invention, manufacturing, marketing, sale, exportation and sale of military industrial products.’’
On the just concluded ninth summit of the D-8 member countries, Shehu said the members also used the event to mark the 20th Anniversary of the organization.
He said the event witnessed the handover of the baton of its leadership from the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Sahid Khaqan Abbasi to President Recep Tayyep Erdogan of Turkey.
“At the end of the Summit, the Heads of State and Government adopted a communique which spelt out the direction of the organization for the coming two years under Turkey.’’