Sectarian issues may determine closure
Tough options as parents, proprietors wait on Buhari
By Nsikan Ikpe
Parents as well as proprietors of Turkish schools in Nigeria are waiting with bated breath as to whether the Nigerian Government will give in to pressure this time around to finally close the secondary schools, university and hospitals that are linked with the Fethulah Gulen movement in Nigeria.
This is coming on the heels of the recently botched coup attempt in Turkey which the Erdogan regime has since disclosed is linked to the movement.
Meanwhile, the Government of Turkey, on Thursday, said it had alerted the Federal Government on the existence of schools and hospitals owned by suspected terrorists in Nigeria.
Turkey said it had officially notified the Nigerian government on the existence of the schools, which bear the name of the country but are not owned by it and demanded that the facilities be shut down.
The Ambassador of Turkey to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil, while speaking to the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu Sani, when the latter paid the diplomat a visit at his Abuja office, said the owners of the schools sponsored the recent coup in Turkey.
The envoy said the institutions, which ranged from schools to hospitals, were allegedly owned by the Fethullah Gulen Organisation allegedly founded by Fethullag Gulen.
The Turkish government, which stated that the country does not own any school in Nigeria, said similar schools established in Turkey had been shut down.
According to the ambassador, confessions by the coup plotters, who are currently under investigation, have indicated that the same syndicate which hatched the botched July 15, 2016, coup, own the schools in Nigeria.
Cakil said the organisation and its investments had enjoyed wide acceptance by the public in Turkey until suspected coupists confessed to using the organisations for terrorist activities.
He said all the schools owned by the organisation had been shut down by the Turkish government as of last week.
The Difference checks reveal that this is not the first time that the Erdogan administration, which had been having a long-running sectarian battle with the Gulen movement which incidentally had helped facilitate its emergence onto power – would be moving to shut down the schools. During his more recent state visits to Africa in the past few years, it has been a regular subject raised by the regime to governments in Nigeria, Gambia and elsewhere but factors of economic contributions, an inability to take sides in the long-running sectarian conflicts in Turkey and widespread acceptance of the institutions in their African berths have been restraining factors.
Observers however say that the final point of concern that will determine the Buhari administration’s response to the Turkish government’s demand would be whether like the El-Zakzakky incient, the Gulen movement is expousing a version of Islam that is at variance with that being promoted by the leading lights of the ruling government in Nigeria.
However, parents of children affected in the ongoing face-off and users of the hospital and other facilities would want a quick decision to be taken on the issue so that they would not be caught in any diplomatic and sectarian cross-fire. The Difference checks at the Nigeria-Turkish International school located at Isheri on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway revealed that there was virtual calm in and around the institution which is presently on break but that worried parents had begun to make inquiries over what they should do going forward.