An article in one of the nation’s dailies, the many lies of Cemal Yigit, which centred on the ugly events in Turkey and the seeming chilling hangover on Turkish interest in Nigeria, recently caught my attention. I was further attracted to the write-up not only on the need to update myself of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan new moves to acquire more dictatorial powers through executive presidency but to also satisfy my curiosity on the reason for the recent change of name of Nigerian Turkish International College to Nigerian Tulip International College.
But no sooner I had fully settled down to digest the supposedly compelling piece to further enrich my knowledge on the burning issues, that I discovered that the write-up, which was purportedly written by one Kabuga in a reaction to an earlier piece by Cemal Yigit, was one of the hatchet jobs calculated to demonize supporters of Hizmet or Gulen Movement and at the same time ‘canonize’ President Erdogan for his nauseating authoritarian posture and macabre dance on democracy.
While I am not in any way holding brief for Turkish businessmen in Nigeria who the Turkish government is said to be doing every possible to frustrate out of the country for their supposedly sympathy to Hizmet Movement, that is inspired by US-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, it is crystal clear that by the jaundiced and kindergarten diagnosis of the issues displayed in the write-up, that Kabuga is either suffering from selective amnesia or was blinded by his desire to get some crumbs from the appendage of Turkish authorities in Nigeria.
What Kabuga and his sponsors fail to realize is that supporters and members of Gulen Movement are known world-wide for their humanitarian activities and promotion of peace among various religious groups, it is only shallow-minded Kabuga and his ilk will believe that Nigeria or any other countries will take serious any allegations against the Movement by power-drunk President Erdogan.
Though it is clear that the new antic of Erdogan led Turkish government is to establish Maarif Foundation to counter the influence of Gulen Movement in Nigeria. There are already issues regarding the Islamic fundamentalism posture of Maarif Foundation and its perceived sympathy to radical groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS).
On the other hand, Hizmet Movement has established a number of successful schools, state-of-the-art hospitals, peace-promoting centres, charity organisations, and has in the process built strong relations with local business, religious (Christian and Muslim) leaders and political elites in Africa. It has employed thousands of Nigerians in various organisations and consequently become the face of a civilised Turkey in Nigeria and the entire continent.
Envious of the success story of Hizmet Movement and his fast dwindling approval rating at both home and abroad, President Erdogan and his ruling AK Party, are now using the July 2016 failed coup as smokescreen to subjugate or if possible, uproot Hizment not only Turkey but particularly from Nigeria and other Sub-Sahara African countries.
The coup, which the Turkish government blamed squarely on Fethullah Gulen and his supporters, has led to a large-scale purge of officials with suspected affiliation with the Hizmet Movement, and Erdogan has not ceased to exert pressure on various countries to sever ties with the Movement. But Nigeria and other countries will not allowed themselves to be fooled or cowed by Erdogan as the Turkish government has not showed any reasonable evidence that link the coup to Hizmet or Gulen supporters.
Erdogan, who is known for his penchant on appalling human rights abuse and regular clamp down on opposition, now appears to be offering a ‘greek gift’ in the name of Maarif Foundation while at the same time labelling sympathizers of the Gulen movement as terrorists and branding them all sorts of dangerous names so that they can be chased out.
Just like the European Union (EU), United States and several countries in the world that have severally condemned the dictatorship that now holds sway in Turkey under Erdogan, Nigeria must not allow agents of Turkish government in the country like Kabuga who now masquerade as a member of a non-existing Nigerian Youth Entrepreneurship Forum for National Development (NYEFOND) to spread the foul smell of authoritarian mentality of the Turkish government to contaminate the democratic freedom being enjoyed in the country.
Clement Iloha, a public affairs analyst and right activist, wrote in from Abuja