Interview with Ambassador of Nigeria H.E. Kevin Peter in the Czech Republic

Recently , the Prague Forum has met with His Excellency Kevin Peter , Ambassador of Nigeria in the Czech Republic.    His Excellency has offered an interesting view on his country and on its relationships with the Czech Republic

Prague Forum: Where have you been posted before as an ambassador? Or is this your first post as ambassador?

His Excellency: Yes this is my first post as an ambassador. I am not  a career diplomat, I am a politcian

Prague Forum: And you have been working before in the Government Administration  of Nigeria?

His Excellency: Yes, at first as a major in my local government, twice. Then I have been working twice as a special advisor for two different Governments of our state. Then I held some parties’ positions.

Prague Forum: Did you have a chance to visit some regions of the Czech Republic? Maybe with your family?

His Excellency: Yes, I officially visited Brno and Ostrava. These are the two places which I visited officially. One Time I went to visit one Company, Tonak. They produce hats, cups and other materials. It was very fascinating and interesting. That was around Ostrava.

Prague Forum: And in Prague, what have you seen so far?

His Excellency: Yes, in Prague there are so many interesting things. I like most the Prague castle. The Prague castle is so beautiful, especially the architecture of the buildings. The architecture is very interesting and historically meaningful. Especially the statues are so much symbolic. It is very beautiful.

Prague Forum:. What are the main matters in the relations between Nigeria and the Czech Republic? Are there some issues specifically?

His Excellency: Nigera and Czech Republic has been mutually friends as far back as 1961 when it was Czechoslovakia. Up to now,  relationships are really cultivated and touch on so many areas, especially in the areas of economic relation, security, defence on security cooperation, agriculture, information, technology, transport, communication.

Prague Forum: What is the role of Nigeria as a regional power in the process of integration of African countries?

His Excellency: Nigeria, you know it is called the Giant of Africa. And simply it is because of the size, both politically and economically. Nigeria plays a big role. Especially by providing some social help to other countries, for example electricity and more. When it comes to conflict resolution, Nigeria always takes a very important and active part in resolving political conflicts. Nigeria is sending peace forces to help where there  are conflicts in other African countries. And you can see that in most of these organizations like the one you have mentioned Nigerians do occupy high positions.

Prague Forum: When I have a look at the map. I see the boarders of Nigeria and its Neighbour States, a geometrical line. I assume these lines follow colonial borders. You have also neighbouring countries that have been German colonies. You must have various language groups.

His Excellency: Actually, you are right with what you said. There are as many as hundreds ethnic groups in Nigeria. They have learned how to live together, simply, because of economic reasons, political reasons, we all have a common interest. So all the ethnic groups live in peace and in harmony. Business transactions, of course, arise when you have a common interest with another ethnic group, that means that you have to live in peace and cooperate mutually. And again, if you observe how Nigeria is, it is a very highly religious country. Islam and Christianity are felt very strongly. These two religions play a great role because they keep the ethnic groups live in harmony and peacefully.

Prague Forum: There are many languages, how do the various groups communicate ?

His Excellency: Yes, there are so many languages. English is the official language, taught in school. Hausa, Ibo, Jerboa and English are the most used languages.

Prague Forum: Do you speak all of them or which one is your language?

His Excellency: Yes, I speak all of them. I speak English, Hausa, I understand Jerboa but not that much anyway.

Prague Forum: What about the economic relations between Nigeria and the Czech Republic? What are the most important exchanges of goods?

His Excellency: As  I told you before, since  1961, Czech Republic and Nigeria have been having  a mutual relationship. There are some exchanges, mostly, manufactured goods. Czechs export automobiles, spare parts, building materials. While Nigeria is exporting goods like rubber, coco, cashew nuts, beans and spices like ginger, garlic.

Prague Forum: You did not mention oil. I think Nigerian oil is one of the most important resources. First, for how much of your export does it count? How much does it cover of the state budget? Where do you export it? Do you export it maybe as a crude oil or do you have your own refineries and export the product for the final consumption?

His Excellency: Yes. Oil actually is the main export good. It forms the largest part of the budget, and it is exported as crude oil. But there are also other sources like timber, nickel and skins, cocoa, and seeds. Seeds are being exported in a large quantity. These are products that are being exported and support the budget of the country. But Oil is the main export.  Nigeria export gold as well

Prague Forum: Gold sounds good. What is the role of China nowadays? How is your relationship to China?

His Excellency: Our relationship with China has been good, because actually they own most of the construction companies in Nigeria. They have financed so many large constructions projects, roads, and buildings. They are very solid in Nigeria.

Prague Forum: How was the relationship with former colonial force Great Britain nowadays?

His Excellency: We are just mutual friends.

Prague Forum: And the political system, democracy How many parties do you have in the system, at least the major parties?

His Excellency: The major parties are just three. But there are so many smaller other parties that I can’t even mention all of them. But the major ones are three. There is APC, that’s All-Progressive Congress, that’s the biggest at the moment. Then there is PDP, People’s Democratic Party and there is APGA, All Progressive Grand Alliance. APGA is in the eastern part and they have maybe one state. These are the three major political parties.

Prague Forum: Is Nigeria a  presidential Republic?

His Excellency: Yes. Nigeria has a presidential system of government.

Prague Forum: Which Party are most of the Presidents from?

His Excellency: Various. At the beginning, from 1999 – 2015 all Presidents came from the PDP Party . Then the President came from APC

Prague Forum: In many African states corruption is  a topic. Also in Nigeria?

His Excellency: Well, corruption is a topic. Corruption can mean anything. Even if you talk or walk in a curtain way it can be seen as corruption. The way I look sometimes at somebody can be interpreted as corruption. Also, the way I behave can be corruption. Everything what is not done properly. Corruption is almost everywhere. So sometimes if something is done incorrectly it is corruption. As far as anything is incorrectly going, then corruption is everywhere, including in Nigeria.

Prague Forum: As the last Question: I experienced your hospitality and I know; I have also other friends from Africa, and I know Czech People. What would you say is different between African people and Czech people?

His Excellency: Well, this is a Question which could be a bit difficult, but it actually is not. As far as this difference in culture exist you will always find differences between people, hospitably, friendship and life awareness. In Africa  hospitably is generally a part of culture. Culturally you as a Person, you are supposed to be hospitable. Once you have a visitor, you have to entertain the person. This is the most important rule. You have to provide water and food, even if the person is not asking. And you are not supposed to ask if the person likes it or not. We are also not asking people if they want something specific or special like “do you would like to have a coffee”. In Africa you don’t ask, you just provide what is available.

Prague Forum: So guests are very important right ?

His Excellency: Yes. This is how it should be. And now in Czech I have observed so far that the Czech people are nice. I didn’t experience any case of discrimination or racism. They are very friendly and peace. I enjoy here especially the Peace and the Security. It is a very safe place; this Is why I enjoy it here also staying alone.

Prague Forum: Thank you very much Mr Ambassador for Your time

His Excellency: Thank you

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