By Victoria Ojeme & Fortune Eromosele
The Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hidayet Bayraktar, has chided the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, over her warning to Nigerians against travelling to northern Cyprus, saying that her allegations were mere exaggerations and unfounded claims.
Bayraktar, in an open letter to the NiDCOM Chairman, said he was shocked at the statements made by Dabiri-Erewa, saying that there’s no country that does not experience violence.
He said: “I have read the recent statement by Ms. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), warning Nigerian citizens against travelling to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
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“I have to express our reservations about the manner in which the allegations are framed, as they are offhandedly publicised without any official lines of communication or without any field visits by the NIDCOM officials to the TRNC.
“It is with great dismay that we continue to listen to exaggerated and unfounded claims of Ms. Dabiri-Erewa, whose statements could portend the emergence of tensions between the peoples of Nigeria and the TRNC, contrary to the NIDCOM’s official mandate of fostering a greater empathy and understanding between Nigerians and the rest of the world.
“Although neither myself nor my country is clearly the addressee of this statement, one can hardly remain silent on its content, as her impetuous remark could damage the existing strong educational ties between Nigeria and the TRNC, where around thousands of Nigerian students are studying, as the largest group of foreign students.
“First and foremost, Ms. Dabiri-Erewa claimed that “the TRNC is not safe for Nigerians, the killings took place on a daily basis and Nigerians should think twice before going to the Northern Cyprus”.
He added that: “There are currently 50,561 international students from 145 countries and various teaching staff from 65 different countries, in the TRNC.
“Until now, I have come across with no other official statement, aside from Ms. Dabiri-Erewa’s, criticizing the TRNC on such grounds and portraying the life in the TRNC as a lawless country, although Northern Cyprus is one of the most peaceful touristic spots attracting visitors from all over the world.
“Thus, I must admit that her allegations caught me by surprise.
“I do not dispute that some unfortunate criminal incidents took place in the TRNC, as it happens in any part of the world.
“However, the occurrence of such incidents is certainly not a daily routine and all these cases are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly by the TRNC authorities.
“In fact, the Nigerian Embassy staff in Ankara visits the TRNC on a regular basis in order to observe the consular situation on the ground and there is a decent working dialogue between the Nigerian Embassy in Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot authorities.
“I would be interested in learning if Ms. Dabiri-Erewa has verified her information with the findings of these official visits.
“Furthermore, there is no way of knowing why Ms. Dabiri-Erewa assumed that there is a systemic maltreatment in the TRNC, particularly towards Nigerians.
“However, I believe the words of Nigerians living in the TRNC, shining with plain honesty, is already enough to refute her allegations and show the true opinion of Nigerian diaspora in the TRNC.
“Indeed, the TRNC President has recently made a new cooperation proposal to the United Nations in addressing the illegal migration issue, by establishing a joint committee between the authorities of the two sides on the Island, with the inclusion of the UN.
“Moreover, since in many cases Nigerian citizens are not only victims, but also perpetrators of crimes committed in the TRNC, necessary measure will be taken by the relevant agencies in order to prevent young Nigerians and every other student from falling victims.
“Finally, the TRNC authorities will be soon revising their visa regime accordingly, with a view to address the claims of Ms. Dabiri-Erewa.
“I am confident that the Nigerian public will base their opinions about the TRNC on objective realities, rather than getting wrong perception through Ms. Dabiri-Erewa.
“I would also like to advise Ms. Dabiri-Erewa to check the reliability of her sources and to give her speeches deserved consideration in the future.
“After all, the NIDCOM is mandated to work for a stronger bonds between Nigerians abroad and other communities, not to erode them.”