By Victor Gotevbe, Ikenna Asomba & Nathaniel Gotevbe

Indeed, November 29, 2017, would continue to remain a day of honour for Nigeria’s leading consumer product group, PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc., as it emerged winner of  the Primaduta Award 2017.

PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc led by its Chief Executive Officer, Christos Giannopoulos were honoured by the Republic of Indonesia, at the evening meet, held at the Sky Restaurant, Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Sir Harry Purwanto presented the meritorious award to the CEO, PZ Cussons, Christos Giannopoulos, on behalf of the Indonesian President, His Excellency, President Joko Widodo.

The CEO, PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc., Christos Giannopoulos, speaking to Diplomatic Watch’s Editor, Ikenna Asomba (left) and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Victor Gotevbe (right) on the sidelines of the Primaduta Award 2017.

Speaking at the event, Purwanto said the Primaduta Award aims to honour Nigerian businesses that do business with the Republic of Indonesia, noting that the award is a global honour specially conferred on global partners across the world by President Joko Widodo.

In an interview with Diplomatic Watch, on the sidelines of the Primaduta Award 2017, Purwanto said, “the Indonesian Government uses the Primaduta Award to recognise and appreciate businesses across the world that partner with the Republic of Indonesia and her companies.

“The Minister of Trade for Indonesia, today, selected companies that have been doing businesses with Indonesia for at least 5years to appreciate them. The Primaduta Award is conferred directly by the President of Indonesia with the help of the missions of Indonesia across the world. So, on behalf of the Government of Indonesia, the Indonesian mission in Nigeria is today recognising PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc for their business partnership.”

Trade Balance Between Nigeria And Indonesia

Reacting on the trade balance between Nigeria and Indonesia, the Ambassador said “this year, Nigeria’s exports to Indonesia hit 300 per cent, when compared to last year. On the other hand, Indonesian exports to Nigeria is around 13 per cent as at August 2017. Considering this trade balance, we encourage more Nigerians to take advantage and patronize Indonesian products which not only have good qualities but are competitive in prices.”

Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Sir Harry Purwanto (right) PZ Cussons, Christos Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Sir Harry Purwanto (right) presenting the Primaduta

Asked to react on the lopsided trade balance, Purwanto said “Well, it was not like that last year. But this year, the purchasing power to purchase essential commodities from Indonesia to Nigeria is not like before for Nigerians. However, I think it’s a plus for Nigeria. I know the major product Nigeria sells to Indonesia is oil.”

PZ Cussons CEO Reacts

Meanwhile, while speaking to Diplomatic Watch, Christos Giannopoulos, the Chief Executive Officer of PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc., expressed joy having emerged winner of the Primaduta Award 2017.

According to Giannopoulos, PZ Cussons came into Nigeria some 118years ago, when the original owners came to Nigeria to set up operations.

“They started as a trading business, but soon started manufacturing in the 1940s in Aba, Abia State, producing Premier Soap, Joy Soap and the rest is history. Today, PZ Cussons now has some of the biggest brands in Nigeria,” he said.

Having been the CEO of PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc., since 2009, Giannopoulos disclosed that he came to Nigeria, the second time in 2002, adding that he grew up in Nigeria as his father worked here.

On the strong business ties PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc has with the Republic of Indonesia, he said, “PZ Cussons has prided itself on picking economies and countries to operate in where there are similarities and sizes of significance. Nigeria has over 200million people and Indonesia over 240 million people, they are not far away in the same part of the world. Indonesia is one of the biggest opportunities as far as agriculture is concerned, same thing for Nigeria. So, Nigeria and Indonesia share many similarities and the relationship between both countries have been fantastic. Nigeria has an unbelievable amount of technological knowledge which we are bringing to Nigeria in order that Nigeria moves as fast as Indonesia is today.”

Advising the Nigerian government on the way forward for the Nigerian people, Giannopoulos opined: “I think the Nigerian government should pursue its current policy to encourage backward integration. Our lands in Nigeria are fantastic. You can grow anything you want as long as you have a little bit of patience. You watch the flowers grow and it will give you back returns.”

Director General, Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC), Lagos Speaks

Beautiful speeches have been made about you today and we have been informed you are leaving the Nigerian shores this December. How do you react to this?

Today, I am very glad. We have just celebrated PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc.

What does the Primaduta Award aim to achieve?

The President of Indonesia gives a special award to the largest importer of Indonesian products to Nigeria. It is a global award. At the 32nd Indonesian Trade Expo, we had over 132 countries participating, and they were streamlined into 18 countries who are the winners for the 2017 edition of the Primaduta Award, including Nigeria. So, at the global scene, over 1000 candidates emerged winners this 2017, but in Nigeria, just one business, the PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc., emerged winner.

L-R: Chairman/CEO, Decent Link West Africa Ltd., Charles Egbengwu; Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E. Sir Harry Purwanto and DG, Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre, Lagos, Nino Wawan Setianwan at the Primaduta Award 2017.

What are the major products Nigeria exports to Indonesia?

You know Nigeria is a very big country. First, Indonesia imports carton products, rubber, cocoa and even crude oil. Nigeria also gets Noodles, Soap, among other from Indonesian companies here.

How long have you been here in Nigeria as the Director of ITPC, and what do you feel about Nigeria and Nigerians?

I have been here in Nigeria for three years. Nigerians are very nice and wonderful people. My family also came down here with me and have loved Nigerian as an interesting place. One thing that is spectacular between Nigerians and Indonesians is that we seem to share a lot of commonalities. Is it the skin, the character, the behaviour, the food? Sincerely, I love to stay here and I enjoyed every bit of my stay here. I will sincerely miss the Nigerian people. I would love to stay here, but our regulations in Indonesia wouldn’t allow that.

However, speaking to Diplomatic Watch, the Chairman/CEO Decent Link West Africa Ltd, Charles Egbengwu averred that the partnership the Decent Link West Africa Ltd has had with the Republic of Indonesia and Indonesian businesses has been very great.

His words: “They have really boosted my business over the years. I have established good relationship with Indonesian companies. I have travelled to many parts of Indonesia and I source raw materials from them. One thing I must commend them for is that their prices are very competitive and their products are very qualitative. Indonesians are very dependable, reliable and trustworthy and they have a standard.”

Asked how long he has been doing business with Indonesian companies, Egbengwu said: “This is my 15th year doing business with Indonesian companies. I started going to Indonesia since 1992. The Decent Link West Africa Ltd deal in packagings. Paper Packagings. We convert papers, we do flexible packagings, pharmaceutical and cosmetic packagings.”

Advising young Nigerians on the need for entrepreneurship, the Decent Link Boss said: “For young Nigerians, I am advising that Indonesia is a good country to do business with. They are reliable, qualitative and they are visionary. Indonesians have character that attract any shrewd businessman.”