Although marked out by the colour of their skin, thousands of Turks have been resident in Nigeria for scores of years, some with children who speak at least one Nigerian language fluently and see Nigeria as home. And their lifestyle is a lesson for many young Nigerians desperately seeking visas in search of the proverbial greener pasture in foreign lands. These citizens from foreign shores are enamoured with the warmth and possibilities that Nigeria offers.
Internationally, Turkish schools came like nurtured acorn seedlings and sprouted into mighty trees. For instance, the First Surat Group started its activities in Nigeria from a rented building with only 14 students in Abuja in 1998. Now, its huge investment in education and health, its consistent de-emphasis of material gain along with its strong support for charitable activities easily convinces parents about a commitment to enduring values.
Although the Nigerian Turkish International Colleges (NTIC), with its 17 educational institutions located in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Kaduna, Yobe and Ogun states and some 5, 000 students focus on building knowledge based on core moral values, which our modern society is in dire need of; it dedicates much resources to humanitarian causes being carried out under the banner of the NTIC Foundation.
NTIC has been consistently awarded top rankings by National Mathematical Centre (NMC) and the Federal Ministry of Education in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Information Communication Technology (ICT) over the years. For instance, Chief Executive Officer NMC, Prof. Adewale Solarin along with the Minister of State for Education awarded NTIC best and top school of 2013 and 2014 in Science and Mathematics.
Beyond academics and of extreme importance in NTIC’s programmes is the humanitarian work that crosses the boundaries of religion, to help alleviate the plight of internally-displaced persons and other needy members of society. Coordinator of NTIC Foundation, Mr. Behlul Fatih Basaran, regards himself lucky for having a job that fulfils his personal passion for altruistic or humanitarian efforts.
“I actually came to Nigeria based on a study scholarship offered by the Hizmet Movement. It was here in Nigeria that I first learnt to speak English Language. I started from the very elementary level of learning A, B, C because I did not even understand the alphabet back then.”
As someone whose personal life experiences ensure a deep understanding of what needy persons are passing through, the NTICF boss cherishes the opportunity of coordinating the drilling of 200 boreholes since 2014 in addition to distribution of relief packages to the needy especially, those doing the Ramadan fasting and Sallah. In collaboration with Nizamiye Hospital, NTICF has also done more than 300 eye cataract operations free of charge. The humanitarian body did 50 cataract surgeries in Kano in order to attend to those who needed it but could not afford the trip to Abuja.
Registered in June 2013, NTICF implements various social responsibility projects in collaboration with First Surat Group of Companies, the Turkish/Nigerian owned holding company of Nigerian Turkish International Colleges (NTIC), Nigerian Turkish Nile University (NTNU), Nigerian Turkish Nizamiye Hospital (NTNH), and Vefa Travel Tourism Limited. It also collaborates with Ufuk Dialoque Foundation and other willing partners in areas covering education, provision of health services and water, assistance for orphans. It also undertakes special humanitarian projects for the needy during Christian and Islamic festive periods.
Its unique children education support programme includes provision of writing materials such as note books, crayons, sharpener, pencils, geometric set, eraser and drawing book in packages for pupils in government-owned schools.
According to Mr. Behlul, the foundation also visits orphanages across the nation, providing free medical check-up, food items and clothing and other items in addition to organizing picnics and helping with renovation of such homes.
“Every year during sallah, NTIC Foundation sacrifices thousands of cows on behalf of its well-wishers. The meat is then packaged into polythene bags, which the team of volunteers then share among thousands of needy people in various states and Abuja. During Ramadan period, the foundation usually organizes Iftar dinner (hot meal) for thousands of needy people. And towards ending of fasting, the foundation provides raw food bags to needy families, each bag containing essential food items that lasts a family for a month. The same activities are carried out during Christmas when we distribute food items to the orphans and underprivileged people,” he explained.