Turkish investors in Nigeria have created a niche for themselves in the area of education and provision of health services. And one would be surprised to learn the investors emerged on Nigeria’s educational system by accident, not by design. It had dawned on some Turkish nationals in the country to create schools for their wards and that was how the First Surat Education Limited, now The First Surat Group, was founded in 1998 with the aim of spreading the gospel of quality education. The first school owned by the group was started in a rented apartment with 23 students. Today, the story has changed. The group owns about 16 primary and secondary schools spread across Kano, Kaduna, Ogun, Lagos and Yobe states, under the aegis of Nigeria Turkish International Colleges (NTIC). In no time at all, the NTIC had gained reputation for providing quality education in the country. The schools were later complemented with Galaxy UniPrep Centre in Abuja, established in 2007, with the aim of preparing students for entry examinations into national and international universities. Then as clamour, mostly by parents of students who graduated from Nigeria-Turkish Colleges, for the establishment of a tertiary institution grew, the Nigeria-Turkish Nile University was established in Abuja in 2009. It started with 700 students and four faculties. By September last year, the university had added additional faculty, Faculty of Medicine- with Law Faculty billed to start soon. Since its establishment, the university has become a beacon of academic excellence in the nation’s capital.
The second expression of the group’s excellence is in the area of health services through the creation of Nigeria-Turkish NIZAMIYE Hospital. The hospital boasts high-tech medical equipment, tastefully furnished wards and many doctors from Nigeria and Turkey. The hospital, according to officials of First Surat Group, adheres strictly to international standards on all fronts. Last year, the group also launched a humanitarian crusade when it set up the NTIC Foundation, a charitable initiative that provides boreholes, scholarship, free medical treatment and renovation of orphanages across Nigeria.
WESTERN POST’s Abuja Bureau Chief, OLUMIDE BAJULAIYE, speaks with the Regional Director and Head of Media Relations for the group, Cemal Yigit, and Registrar, Nigeria-Turkish Nile University, Kamil Kemanci. First to speak is Yigit…
•We’re Humbled By Our Achievements, Says Yigit
What is ABINAT?
ABINAT is a business association, Nigeria-Turkish Business Association. We take Nigerian businessmen to Turkey on business exhibition. And also bring Turkish businessmen to Nigeria to look for business opportunities.
What does your office (INCI Production Office) do?
This office is into production; this office is the representative of these companies by the Turkish community. It’s the media relations office for Turkish International Colleges, Turkish Nile University, NIZAMIYE Hospital and NTIC Foundation. We handle the group’s media relations, advertisement and preparation of introductory movies, because we are also into production. We prepare catalogues, handbills, brochures and whatever is involved in terms of introducing the group or its entities to Nigeria.
What has been your experience coordinating Turkish business activities?
The Turkish International College started in 1998 and we are humbled by that. The idea is not to advertise our achievements but to show through our actions and also by doing more. Having done all we have done, there is the need to let Nigerians know about the group and this is because Nigerians are asking questions about the group. Since 1998, the achievements and successes have been great. Now is the time to let Nigerians know who we are; what we are doing and why we are doing them and that is why we thought it right to have a media centre that is coordinating all media relations on behalf of the group. We have a travel agency as well. The reasons why we have travel agency is that when you are talking about this group with Nigerian business people we need to take them to Turkey to see our tradition so we can know each other very well, because knowledge is power. So let Nigerians be imparted with knowledge about what we are doing.
Kemanci: In Just 6 Years, Nigeria-Turkish University Has Built Good Reputation among Parents
What has been the group’s experience running a university in Abuja?
The experience has been fine, no problem. We are working hard and doing our best since its all about education. In the area of education, we are always filled with hunger to reach out to more people. We are trying our best to offer more scholarships, which is also our major area. We are offering scholarship to a lot of students. Some of our students are on tuition-free. If you think that you are brilliant and perform well in WAEC, JAMB and also we know that some rural areas find it difficult to be part of these JAMB exams, because of the payment. But if you are one of the best students of your school, any school at all around the country we offer you scholarship.
How many graduates have you turned out now?
Two sets; about three hundred students now.
What motivated you to go into post-graduate studies?
You know according to NUC regulations, when you start a university and you have graduated students, you can apply for post-graduate studies. We have gotten approval from NUC to start the post-graduate programme and this we have started since September last year in the management, social sciences, engineering and sciences. The Law School has already commenced for this session. Right now, we are preparing for Medicine.
What are the major milestones you think your university has recorded?
We have recorded unique achievements. First of all, to continue without any interruption since 2009 is a major achievement. We have been on for six years now. We are also doing well in this region, in Ghana and some other parts of this region, we are doing pretty well. We have students from over 15 countries. As we progress this could increase. So it’s such a good achievement and our target is to attract other people to come to Nigeria I mean Abuja. Also in infrastructure, we have a 15-year master plan. We have completed the first phase; we are now going into the second phase. In just six years, we have built a good reputation among parents. Our university also has a good name among other universities. Parents can say they can entrust their children unto us without hesitation. They don’t worry about their morality; they don’t worry about the development of their children in education, they know we would mould them well.