Promoting Tourism, Business, and Stronger Bilateral Ties: An Exclusive Interview With Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria

Your excellency sir, can you give us a brief of you?

My name is Dr. Usra Hendra Harahap M.Si (ret) I have a military background. After vretirement, I was appointed ambassador of the republic of Indonesia to Nigeria. We cover 14 countries in Africa and also ECOWAS.

I have two daughters; both of them are Doctors, specialized ophthalmologists and also her husband Orthopedic. I have three grandchildren. Two granddaughters and one grandson. I live in Abuja with my wife.

You have been an ambassador for years now, can you share with us your experience so far?

As an ambassador, I have been in Nigeria for 4 years and three months. And I have an extra ordinary experience here, has freed the good NEPAL and crew member of the SIP from the kidnappers as you know, we did a kind of operation, we called it the “silent operation” because we deal with Asylum and without any conflict, we try to free them by negotiation with the kidnappers. So finally, we have a success and finally we got three Indonesians and they are back to Indonesia already. They are safe and healthy.

Another way, we are establishing a good relation with all levels in Nigeria, even with the poor people and to the state people, the high position as well. Also, we get along with the poor people because they have a lot of experience. We have lessons to learn from them on how to survive in life, it is good for us to take lesson from them.

On the other hands, we get along with rich people as well, yea, some of my friends here are rich people and they give us ideas on how to make good business, run a good business and be successful.

What’s the greatest life lesson you have learnt as a Diplomat?

The greatest lesson I have learnt as a diplomat, you know I have learnt the local culture, have a good relationship and to determine which we will do to vintage for Nigeria and Indonesia.

Is Indonesia a place to be? can people actually visit for tourism, business and honeymoon?

Yea, absolutely yes. Indonesia is very healthy and warm for a visit as a tourist, business and other interests like honey moon, laughs…. You know, especially the Bali, a special place we have. Thank God, God gave us a paradise place like Bali and it makes other nations to interested to come to Bali in Indonesia.

Let’s talk about diplomatic and bilateral relationship. Between Nigeria and Indonesia, bilateral trade volume is estimated at $5 billion. Please give us an insight on the journey so far?

Diplomatic and bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Indonesia started in 1965 but with Africa, we started Africa conference in Banjul in 1955. Currently, it is in a very good condition and it will continue to get better, especially on defense, security sector. We have already had a letter of intense which consist of education, trade, health official exchange, intelligent data exchange, procurement of military equipment and strategic industries.

On the medical sector, Indonesia has granted Pentaphalin for kid vaccine.

The second step will be 850,000 doses. For now, they have been running the administration mainstream. It is already going on. Several days ago, the vaccine have already come to Nigeria and another set will come to Nigeria by 14th of June and on the 16th of June, we have the occasion which will hand over the vaccine from Indonesia government to Nigeria government.

So, Indonesia has exported about 500 million dollars from various products and import from Nigeria around US dollar 4.5 billion to 5 billion annually, mostly by crude oil. It means Indonesia deficit, Nigeria surplus for the business weather.

Indonesia is an industrial power. Can you tell us more about our cooperation in this sphere?

Indonesia is an industry of power trying to enhance the capacity and quantity of strategic products by promoting the partner countries. We need to have a good relationship with who is interested in our products and we get benefits for Indonesia economy. Many things on business sector has been done by Indonesia and Nigeria from a simple industry to a high industry.

Indonesia has the GDP of over one thousand billion dollars, the most possible cooperation in the area of strategic industry or bilateral equipment and mining industry, agriculture, manufactural and also food and beverages.

What is, for you, the most challenging part of your ambassadorial role in our country?

Of course, specifically, I didn’t have any challenge. Why? Because in myself, I try to learn the Nigerian way of life, culture and lifestyle and adapted to all situations and conditions. So, everything is going to be alright. I have a lot of fun in Nigeria.

Considering all your responsibilities, do you manage to find any free time?

Of Course yes. I always manage my time properly to find free time especially to maintain my health, like physical training. My physiology, my recreation with my family and staff, play music and create activities for fun and happiness.

You have visited a few politicians and well-meaning Nigerians. What is your general view about the country?

Okay, first of all, I will like to congratulate the establishment of new president and government. It shows that democracy practices in Nigeria is even better and better. I believe that with this spirit, Nigerians will achieve the goal. I hope for a prosperous Nigeria in the nearest future.

In my view, Nigeria have a good way of life and it is similar to Indonesia condition. Even the country consists of many tribes, many cultures, languages, tradition yet they still respect each other and try to maintain togetherness, although there is a security breach, but it can still be solved intelligently.

What would you like to point out to conclude this interview?

Yea, in this interview, I want to say that Nigeria is my second home because I have a lot friends in Nigeria. The situation makes me happy and have a nice time during my PR as an ambassador in Abuja.

We have also determined that the bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Nigeria must be better and fruitful. We warmly welcome Nigerians to visit Indonesia and we hope to strengthen the Indonesia and Nigeria bilateral relation. As you can see, I’m putting on an African attire, because I was born in 11th august 1959, its 60 year already and you know the zodiac is lion and I’m very proud as an African lion. of course you know, the lion is a symbol of a good leadership and strength. So, I really want to grow in Nigerian partner as a selfless lion.

So, thank you, nagode, ose and dalu.

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