TEXT OF A SPEECH DELIVERED BY PRINCE ADETOKUNBO KAYODE,CON, SAN, PRESIDENT,ABUJA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY AT THE TURKISH NIGERIAN BUSINESS FORUM ON JANUARY 14TH, 2020
For over a decade now, I have been an avid actor within the Nigerian Turkish space either as a former minister of Nigeria or now as a leader of the organised private sector in the country. So speaking on the relations between two great nations at the beginning of the new decade is an opportunity I am eager to exploit. The reason is simply because in the last decade ,both nations wasted a lot of opportunities. Now is therefore the time to reset the button.
And to start with ,I will call attention of leaders in both countries to a well researched report on how best to advance cooperation between the two countries. The Global Conflict for Civil Stabilisation had late last year issued a report which comprehensively addressed all facets of Nigerian Turkish relations. I aligned myself with many of the submissions in the report which was aptly titled “Fostering Turkish-Nigerian Strategic Cooperation”
Nigeria and Turkey are two powers with a long history of relations starting from the late 16th century, when the Mai or Sultan of Kanem-Bornu (a sahelian empire that centred in Northeast Nigeria and spread across the region upto Southern Libya and Eastern Sudan), Idris Ali Alooma dispatched a diplomatic mission across the Sahara and Mediterranean to the court of the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul.
Today possessing a population of 200million and 80million respectively, Nigeria and Turkey are currently rediscovering their strategic autonomy after decades of subordinating their interests to the Pan-Africanism (in the case of Nigeria), and the Euro-Atlantic order (in the case of Turkey). As the world faces a future in which great power competition will most likely be the most prominent determinant of trends, smaller states risk getting forced into rigid blocs led by the major global powers, that do not necessarily have their interests at heart.
To retain their newly reclaimed strategic autonomy in the face of great power pressure (Turkey over the S-400 and its legitimate security interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and Nigeria over its growing economic ties with China and human rights abuse allegations in security operations), and to ensure that they retain freedom of manoeuvre in their individual dealings with both the Euro-Atlantic bloc and the Sino-Russian bloc, it is necessary that relations between Nigeria and Turkey across board are upgraded, and become rooted in a deeper engagement and strategic cooperation.
What A Turkish-Nigerian Strategic Partnership Should Look Like
Turkey today is a major defence items producer, a major shipbuilding country, and an all round growing industrial power. Turkey needs secure energy supplies, particularly in oil and gas that will not leave it vulnerable to major powers in its vicinity (for example Iran and Russia). Turkish exporters also need a market for their goods.
Nigerian on the other requires massive amounts of infrastructural development in road and rail transport, power generation, transmission and distribution, health and education. In addition, Nigeria needs technological assistance, skills transfer to develop a more skilled workforce, investments in developing its oil and gas sector particular in petroleum refining and gas liquefaction etc. Also the Nigerian Armed Forces requires access to modern weapons systems especially those relevant to the current counterinsurgency campaign in its northeast region, which they often cannot purchase from traditional Western suppliers due to restrictions imposed by those governments because of political concerns, thus hampering their ability to fight.
A Turkish-Nigerian Strategic Partnership would see both countries leveraging on each other’s strengths to fortify their own vulnerabilities and preserve their independence of action.
Priority should be given at the highest levels of both governments to developing, negotiating, enacting and ratifying a mutually beneficial free trade agreement between Nigeria and Turkey, along with a strategic economic cooperation framework to guide relations in the economic sphere between both countries.
Under a strategic partnership, the Turkish Foreign Trade Authority should invest in creating continuous links between Turkish industry, exporters and investors, and their Nigerian counterparts, through organising regular exhibitions and fairs for Turkish concerns in Nigeria, sponsoring and organising tours of Turkey and Turkish industrial concerns for Nigerian industrialists, exporters, investors etc, cooperating with the Nigerian Ministry of Trade and Investment to organise tours of Nigeria for Turkish business people, and organising regular fairs and exhibitions for Nigerian products and producers in Turkey.
Also, the Turkish Foreign Trade Authority, the Turkish Central Bank, and the Turkish Export Credit Bank, should work with Nigeria’s Ministry of Trade and Investment, the Nigerian Central Bank and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, and the organised private sector to create and foster the necessary financial instruments for large scale Turkish investment in Nigeria and vice versa.
A continuous effort should be made by both the Turkish Foreign Trade Authority and the Nigerian Ministry of Trade and Investment to match Turkish suppliers with Nigerian producers, and vice versa, and this effort should be institutionalised, through specific departments within the two government agencies in addition to a Turkish-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce.
Nigeria has a large and growing need for steel and cement, with a very weak steel and metallurgy industrial base and a cement production capacity that cannot meet its needs despite significant potential for expansion. Nigeria’s Ministry of Trade and Investment and the Turkish Foreign Trade Authority should work together with the Turkish Export Credit Bank and the Nigerian Export Import Bank, to create the financial instruments for Turkish steel and cement producers to invest in joint ventures with private Nigerian steel and cement concerns that will fill up the massive gap between what Nigeria needs and what Nigeria currently produces.
Perhaps, a Nigeria-Turkey Industrial Development Bank may be created and funded sufficiently by both governments to provide the capital credit base through which such Turkish-Nigerian joint ventures in cement and steel can be funded on favourable terms.
Turkish manufacturers should be encouraged to take advantage of the large and cheap labour pool in Nigeria to scale up manufacturing of Turkish consumer brands for the Nigerian market and the larger West and Central African market. And Turkish exports to Nigeria should be encouraged to be more of designs, parts and industrial production machinery, and less of finished goods, which will integrate Turkish and Nigerian production systems to a great degree.
To kickstart strategic industrial cooperation between Nigeria and Turkey, the Turkish Foreign Trade Authority(and the larger Turkish government) should provide technical support to the Nigerian government in revising current trade, investment, technology transfer, intellectual property protection laws, regulations and statutes, and in updating them or drafting new ones where necessary.
Turkey possesses a plethora of construction companies with experience in large-scale infrastructural projects. Nigeria has a massive infrastructural deficit in road and rail transport, water, electricity generation, transmission and distribution, seaports etc.
The Turkish Foreign Trade Authority, working with the Nigerian Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, can design a framework through which Turkish investment financing, or Turkish based investment vehicles can fund infrastructural projects across Nigeria, with Turkish construction companies providing the technical capacity and employing Nigerian labour. Also the Turkish Foreign Trade Authority could organise an infrastructural investment vehicles for Nigerian investors to put funding for infrastructural projects in Turkey.
Nigeria today has a housing deficit of more than 20million units, with only a hundred thousand units being built annually, which is inadequate to fill the gap, instead increasing the already gaping deficit. Turkey’s Public Housing Development Administration aka TOK working together with the Export Credit Bank of Turkey and MUSIAD the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association of Turkey, Nigeria’s Ministries of Trade and Investment and Power, Works and Housing Nigeria’s Federal Housing Authority(FHA), and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria(FMBN) can develop a framework for TOKI and the FHA to work together to establish housing concessions across Nigeria in collaboration with Nigerian and Turkish private real estate developers.
FHA/TOKI housing concessions can then be funded by investment vehicles anchored by Turkey’s Export Credit Bank and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, providing credit to Turkish and Nigerian real estate developers.
As part of the strategic partnership between Turkey and Nigeria, Turkish companies should be granted priority in concessions to build and operate new seaports in Nigeria, and the same level of priority should be extended by Turkey to Nigerian companies and consortiums seeking to do the same.
To source funding for Nigerian government investment in infrastructural credit financing vehicles, quietly, the Nigerian government could reach a deal with persons known to have amassed wealth either through kickbacks, looting, or other corrupt ways, and who are holding such wealth offshore, that would see the Nigerian government ease off from chasing them if they invested their ill-gotten wealth in designated infrastructural investment vehicles based in Turkey, and focusing on projects Nigeria and Turkey.
Such a model could also be used to provide the credit financing for implementing Turkish-Nigerian economic and industrial cooperation programmes.
Cultural and Educational Cooperation
As a majority Muslim country, Turkey through its Directorate of Religious Affairs or DIYANET, is well placed to help Nigeria research and put forward narratives that uplift the Islamic consciousness of its Muslim population while countering the nihilistic tendencies of Khariji/extremist groups. Cooperation between the Turkish DIYANET and Nigeria’s Jamaa’atu Nasril-Islam or JNI, and the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), should form a cornerstone of cultural cooperation in this regard.
The DIYANET should sponsor young Nigerians aspiring to become scholars of Islam to study in Turkey, in addition to working with JNI and NSCIA to establish Islamic schools and universities in Nigeria to serve the religious needs of Nigeria’s Muslim population.
Turkey through the Turkish Maarif Foundation, should establish Turkish schools and continuously expand the number of such schools in Nigeria and their reach, ensuring that in every state of Nigeria there is at least one Turkish Maarif Foundation school.
Also through the Turkish Scholarships Foundation, Turkey should provide annual scholarships to Nigerian students to study at the university and post graduate level in Turkey, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses, in substantial numbers (at least 2,000 students per annum), particularly from less developed and more populous Northern Nigeria.
Turkey should also invest in a programme to attract the large numbers of Nigerian students leaving Nigeria each year to study in the UK, US, Malaysia, Ghana, Ukraine and Canada. This programme if successful will see as many as 30,000 Nigerian students paying to study in Turkish universities as against the current number of below 3,000.
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency or TIKA should engage Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education in providing continuous training to Nigerian teachers and education administrators, while constructing schools, laboratories and libraries and providing Nigerian universities with technical equipment.
TIKA should also partner with Nigeria’s Ministry of Interior, and Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency or NEMA in helping Nigeria develop and sustain improved humanitarian and emergency response capabilities. TIKA should also provide Nigeria through its Ministry of Interior with technical and material support in rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by the Boko Haram conflict in Northeast Nigeria etc.
TIKA should work with Nigerian non-governmental development organisations and civil society outfits, to develop the capacity of local NGOs to professionally operate in the sector. TIKA should also invest in training a pool of individual development workers in Nigeria. Also, TIKA should help Turkish NGOs match up with Nigerian NGOs in their field to foster greater people to people ties in the development sector.
As a former Minister of Defence, I must add the aspect of defence cooperation. The Nigerian Armed Forces are currently focused on firstly defeat insurgent groups and stabilise the internal security of the country, and secondly projecting Nigerian power across the continent in support of political directives. These two priorities dictate that they need to develop new capabilities that they currently do not have.
The Turkish Armed Forces on the other hand have been fighting a long-running insurgency against the PKK terrorist organisation which they have pushed into Iraq and Syria, while carrying out expeditionary operations against the PKK’s affiliates in both countries and the Islamic State Group in Syria, conducting proxy warfare against the Assad regime in Syria, and maintaining a strong conventional deterrence capability against Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey under a strategic partnership framework, should create mechanisms to transfer the knowledge and skills its armed forces have developed over the years operating on multiple fronts, in multiple warfare modes, to the Nigerian Armed Forces.
A long-term programme to have substantial numbers of Nigerian military officers attend Turkish military colleges, would go hand in hand with continuous joint militarily exercises between the Turkish and Nigerian Armed Forces.
A strategic defence cooperation framework would also see Turkey working with Nigeria in expanding Nigeria’s defence industrial production capabilities, and providing Nigeria with access to quality weapons and defence technology that it currently cannot procure due to Western countries refusing to sell these items to Nigeria for political reasons.
Our Readiness at ACCI
I must not end this address without stating that the Nigerian private sector has set the stage for the actualisation of many of the above listed proposal. Specifically we have created mutually beneficial commercial and economic platform which our Turkish partners can easily key into.
This includes the National Livestock Transformation Plan which we know Turksih businessmen should be interested in. Nigeria has designed a private sector led livestock Masterplan. This covers the entire livestock value chain with huge potential for investment and good returns. We at the ACCI has operationalise the plan for partnership opportunities for potential investors. Details of this will be shared with our Turkish partners.
After all said and done, I welcome you to Nigeria either as business partners or investors. The investment and business climates are gradually changing for the better and I also want to assure you that, ACCI is solidly on ground and will surely give you all the support you may need to set up your type of business in Nigeria.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, CON., SAN
Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Nigeria