Nigeria and Turkey are furthering talks on defence collaboration in counter-terrorism support as well as the acquisition of various military hardware which may include attack helicopters, armed drones, and other infantry systems.
Nigeria is in dire need of armed attack helicopters and drones for its counter-terror operations which Turkey hopes to supply in its drive to replace predominantly Chinese, Russian, and Western suppliers.
Nigeria and Turkey first began talks aimed at improving their defence ties on August 31, 2021, during the visit of the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Hidaye Bayraktar paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, at the Army Headquarters, Abuja.
Ambassador Bayraktar stated that the purpose of the visit was to improve upon the existing relationship between the two countries and to assist Nigeria in its fight against terrorism.
Over the years, Nigeria ramped up the use of armed drones for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations, in October 2021, after a meeting between the Turkish-Nigerian Business Congress, and some Nigerian Governors, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State announced that he will acquire armed drones from a Turkish company to aid in the war against terrorism in the state.
Although, it seems the sales negotiations have stalled due to political bottleneck as state governments cannot acquire armed platforms without the tacit approval or collaboration of the central government.
Subsequently, shortly before the official commencement of the 3rd Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul, Turkey on 18 December, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, said Nigeria will partner with the Republic of Turkey in dealing with the current security challenges facing the nation.
Senior Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said a team from the Turkish Defense Establishment would meet its Nigerian counterpart in Abuja in January, next year for discussions on “military procurements” and equipment manufacturing.
Garba Shehu hinted that the new acquisitions could include; assault rifles, anti-material rifles, anti-terror equipment, armored vehicles as well as unmanned aircraft and vehicles.
This January, a delegation from the Turkish defence industry will be in Nigeria to further discussions on weapons procurement and joint manufacturing of ordinance with DICON.
The visit by the Turkish Defence team would be a follow-up to the engagements by heads of security and intelligence of both countries during the President’s visit.
On its part, Turkey, which has growing recognition in the world as a military power and had successes to show in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and lately Azerbaijan said it welcomed the Nigerian government’s decision to buy naval ships from their shipyard, noting that discussions are ongoing on how to strengthen the capacity of the Defence Industries Corporation (DICON) in Kaduna in line with an agreement signed during President Erdogan’s last State Visit.