Nov 20 2017

In Nigeria, the masses see Turkey as an enemy – columnist

Most Nigerians see Turkey as an enemy, but its governing elites view the country much more favourably, columnist Tunji Ajibade wrote in the Nigerian tabloid Punch.

At the time Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari visited the D-8 meeting of in Istanbul in October, “Turkey was Nigeria’s enemy as far as the informed masses were concerned,” Ajibade said.

But those people were to be surprised when Buhari took a large entourage to Turkey, including many family members.

“No one goes into enemy territory with vulnerable members of his family,” Ajibade said.

Several bilateral issues had appeared to poison relations between Ankara and Abuja recently, Ajibade said, starting with the refusal of the Nigerian government to shut down hospitals and schools connected with the Fethullah Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of being responsible for last year’s failed coup attempt.

It had seemed to many, he said, as if Turkey were trying to punish Nigeria as well:

Successive seizures of guns at our port by the Nigerian Customs Service were reported; four times in a year, and all the guns had papers linking them to Turkey. That couldn’t have conveyed any other message to Nigerians other than how official Turkey had become the enemy of their nation. But Nigerian government officials must have had their own information, different from what the masses had, and so Buhari ended up travelling to Turkey.