Mr. Azibaola Robert, a Bayelsa Born entrepreneur and Founder of Zeetin Engineering on Saturday advocated lifting of the ban on local gin popularly known as Kaikai.
The production and consumption of the locally distilled drink also known in local parlance as ‘Ogogoro’ was banned in June 2015 by the Bayelsa government following the death of 20 people in Ondo state after consuming the drink.
Other states in the Niger Delta region subsequently outlawed the production and consumption of the local drink, however the consumption has remained canelstine due to clampdown by security agencies.
Roberts, who made the advocacy in a chat with Selected Journalists, including NAIJA LIVE TV in Yenagoa, noted that it was regrettable that ‘Kaikai’ still remains outlawed in the statute books of states in the federation.
He said it was a ploy by the colonial masters to preserve their distilleries in Europe and brand gins produced by artisanal distilleries as “Illicit” and wondered why the discriminatory tag was yet to be jettisoned.
Roberts continued alcoholic brands brewed abroad are not different from the locally brewed ones, adding that the belief that locally made drinks were inferior was erroneous and without scientific basis.
He lamented that the erroneous belief has hindered the growth of the local drinks industry which would have helped to reduce the level of poverty as the local drink could become an export commodity to earnforiegn currency.
”Today l have the privilege to prick your conscience on some basic things, basic things like ” Kaikai, as l speak to you, Kaikai is illegal in the books of state governments, such that it is labeled illicit drink…
“Kaikai distillation is a basic occupation of our people. How for God’s sake that Kaikai has been labelled as an illicit drink for over 60 years since Independence is what baffles people like us,” Roberts said
He noted with dismay that people whose livelihood is based on the local gin are arrested while those who deal in alcoholic gins brewed abroad are treated as doing normal business.
Roberts called on politicians, especially the lawmakers of the state assemblies to expunge the obnoxious laws from the statute books.
According to him, if properly harnessed , the locally brewed drink factories can turn things around for the economy of the states.
“Those foreign drinks are local drinks of people elsewhere, just like our own Kaikai is brewed here, the only thing is that we have failed to identify the potential of our own and act accordingly, “ Roberts said.
Roberts, a lawyer and rights activist argued that basic science clearly showed that alcohol is alcohol and produced through the same basic process of distillation and wondered why the craze for foreign alcohol to the detriment of the local ones in the country.
“People spend up to N60,000 per bottle for these foreign gins and do not do the same for the local alcohol , there is no difference between the two, they are all mixtures of water and alcohol”. Roberts submitted.
He also explained that the potentials of the rainforest have not been tapped to create wealth, adding that, the vast rainforest are just lying fallow without deliberate efforts by governments and the people to take advantage of the abundant forest resources.
Roberts further declared that his interaction with the media has no political undertone as he does not nurse a political ambition, having no future ambition to vie for an elective office but to promote his patriotic ideas.
He emphasised further that youths in the country are yet to unleash and exploit the potentialities of social media because they use the platforms to promote politically exposed persons rather than using them creatively to make money.
He regretted that some of the wild animals in the rain forests are going into extinction and cautioned against poaching of the wild animals.
Roberts said that he and his staff came to Bayelsa to explore the forests for two week and expressed satisfaction that the expedition was successful.
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