“Nigeria is a vast, colorful mosaic”
Text: Martina Hošková and M.Zisso; Photo: Archive
The name Nigeria is taken from the Niger river, running through the country. It is the world’s sixth most populous country, with over 230 million people who speak over 500 languages. The country was a founding member of the African Union, and, with the largest economy on the continent, clearly represents an influential player. “The cordial relations between Czechia and Nigeria have existed since 1960. Serving as an ambassador of my home country is a great honor, which I happily accepted,” says H.E. Mr. Kevin Peter, Ambassador of Nigeria.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers, please?
My name is Kevin Peter, I am 62 years old, and I come from Adamawa State, Nigeria. I am married, with six children. In my over 30-year long career in the public service I have had the experience of working both in elective and political appointment capacities, such as an executive chairman of Mubi-North Local Government Area of Adamawa State (twice), director of finance at the E.Y.N. headquarters, a chairman of the screening committee for the National Assembly party primaries in Ogun State, a special adviser to the Governor of Adamawa State (twice), and many more.
How did you become the Ambassador of your country?
As you may know, Ambassadors are appointed by the head of state. In Nigeria, just like anywhere else, to be considered to become an Ambassador is a great honor. Even as a non- career diplomat, you are willing to accept this challenge in order to be able to represent your country on such a big scale. It was not my choice, but it was the highest honor, which I happily accepted.
You have already been in the Czech Republic for two years. Can you share some of your impressions?
Of course, in comparison with Nigeria (and Africa in general), both cultures are totally different. However, because of the nature of my previous work, being able to work closely with many Europeans, I was not as surprised. I can say that I was rather glad to discover new things every day. First impressions might have been the comparison in size, getting to know a smaller country and nation, the infrastructure, the architecture, and of course the people.
What do you find the most difficult part of diplomatic work?
Finding a healthy balance between your own personal opinions on certain topics and the must of being a diplomat in order to represent your country. And, of course, being away from your own home for the period of the mission. Actively seeking ways to benefit your own country and constantly being aware of what is going on around you at every level, professional and personal, may also be quite demanding.
How do you spend your free time?
The representative role of an Ambassador often requires nights and weekends from you, when you are expected to attend certain functions. Time is often really limited, so I always try to concentrate on my family the most, whenever I am free.
As you already mentioned, the cultures of our two countries are very different. Can you tell us a bit about Nigeria?
My homeland Nigeria is the world‘s sixth most populous country, with over 230 million people. It is a federal republic, comprising of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, with Abuja as the capital. The most important thing is that everything in my country is connected through tribal roots. Together, these roots create a vast colorful mosaic of different backgrounds with peculiar details. Our main goal, like every other nation, is to search for stability and prosperity. We gained independence from Britain in 1960, and, apart from the above-mentioned tribal roots, we are also divided into political, ethnic, and religious groups. It is important to say, however, that we are still united as one nation.
Nigeria is known as one of the biggest exporters of oil and natural gas. Will you give us some more insight in this respect?
Amongst industrialized nations, oil represents a very important energy source. I believe the oil in Nigeria was first discovered in 1956, and later in 1977 the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) was founded. Nowadays, Nigeria is the number-one oil producer in Africa, and this creates almost 90% of our export value. All these aspects play a significant role in the overall economy of our country.
Do you promote your country to attract more visitors from Czechia?
Nigeria is not a typical holiday destination for Czech people, but the potential has been really growing in recent years. Our country has many things to offer as a holiday destination, anything from rich culture and beautiful landscapes to exotic wildlife. Nigeria symbolizes the energy of the rich African culture. Personally, I believe you can always promote your country with cultural things such as typical Nigerian food, served with love.
What is the current status of Czechia-Nigeria relations?
The current status of these relations is nothing but excellent at this very moment. These cordial relations have existed between our two countries since 1960. We very much appreciate the close cooperation in the areas of defense and security, especially between the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Czech defense industry. There is also a great cooperation in science research, agricultural infrastructure, human resource development, and technology transfer. The most recent success is the establishment of the Czech Republic-Federal Republic of Nigeria Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group.
This interview is done on the occasion of your national day. What are you wishing for your country? And for the Czech Republic?
With all my heart, I would like to use this medium to wish our beautiful countries everlasting peace and prosperity, as well as a deeper and stronger bilateral cooperation.