Abakaliki Rice is the brand name which has varied species of rice grown in the area of Ebonyi state. The species include Max, 306 and R8. It has been reported that the people of South East geo-political zone relied on this brand of rice during the Nigerian civil war. The rice is grown in the salty soil of agrarian Abakaliki communities due to which the taste is sugary and hence preferred more than the polished foreign rice ( Unresolved Conflict between Abakaliki Rice Mills and Ebonyi Government Rice ).
The brand has got a lot of attention recently in the international market because the buyers from the neighboring countries come to the mill at season peak, but off the rice, polish it and re-brand it to sell at higher prices. Nigeria Unresolved conflict continues abakaliki rice mills ebonyi government rice news where the rice millers are maintaining that leaving their current environment is unacceptable. Joseph Ununu, the Chairman of Abakaliki Rice Mills has commented that relocation will discourage the private sector operators and may cause hike in cost of rice in Igbo land.
The Governor Martin NwanchoElechi-led administration has allegedly put a knife in the stronghold of the rice millers, tearing them apart. Two persons are claiming leadership of the millers whereUnunu said he is in charge, having been elected to lead and another miller, Patrick Mbam, said he is the helmsman, having been selected by the state government as interim committee chairman for the millers.
The problem started when the Ebonyi State Ministry of Environment made a radio announcement mandating the rice millers to relocate on or before March 31, 2012 which causes unrest with the millers, hence the millers approached for ex-parte order directive to restrain the Ebonyi State government from exiting, interfering with and/or mandating them with to relocate from industrial area. Millers emphasized that that were morally compelled to file a lawsuit as the last resort in order to continue to make ends meet.
Ununucommented that, “Our worries have been the fate of the rice millers and how to save the lives of the poor masses whose investments are entirely at the rice mill and who depend on the same for survival.Unresolved Conflict between Abakaliki Rice Mills and Ebonyi Government Rice. He also added, “We are not in any way antagonistic or opposed to the state government’s developmental policy thrust in building ultra-modernSatake Rice Mill for the people of Ebonyi State. Since it will be producing world-class rice from this part of the country, we will follow government directive and relocate to any of the alternative locations provided by the state government, but we should be compensated for such huge losses.”
Ununu pointed out that, “our compassionate appeals have always been for government to engage the service of property evaluators that would take stock of our individual and corporate assets for considerable compensations. It is from the proceeds of the anticipated compensations that shall be used by our embattled members to provide alternative accommodations and rebuild structures for the reinstallation of our milling machines, fuel stations, and lorry and motor parks beside other conveniences as we have presently and which are basic infrastructure necessities at the present rice mill in industrial area”.
The Rice Millers Company’s chairman complained “if going by the deadline of 31 March last year when we were earlier directed through frequent radio announcements to vacate the industrial area to an unspecified location, what should we have done? Were we to dismantle and carry to our respective homes, the over 3,500 parboiling and milling machines which some of them are individually and jointly owned?
As I am talking to you, all our warehouses are filled with stalled milled and non-milled rice belonging to our numerous members and customers cut across the nation. If we are to relocate anytime, where can we park the non-milled rice till such a time of milling them for sale despite the attendant heavy costs of transportation?”
He added, “In the face of the avoidable losses that are bound to cause us much economic losses and difficulties, if that such directive was enforced harshly without human face, certainly, it would have ensured drastic fall in rice supply that will jolt rise in price of the product and other food stock generally within the state. Trust the way Nigerians act in a frenzy whence the prices of commodities sky-rocket for any reason, it takes time for it to be reversed.” so there is an Unresolved Conflict between Abakaliki Rice Mills and Ebonyi Government Rice.
The chairman noted that it was disheartening to note that from the start of the rice mill industrial area, there was yet to be any worthy assistance from government except the construction of access road and landscaping of the area awarded by President Olusegun Obasanjo during his visit to the area.
Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Emmanuel Onwe, has explained that the decision to relocate the rice mill was taken at the Executive Council meeting of the state government and said that the government would be ruthless with any person/persons, who ventures to thwart the order. Onwe has disagreed to the allegation that the policy was targeted against non-indigenes of the state who are the maximum percentage of the owners of the Abakaliki Rice Mill, explaining that the mill was located too close to the city centre, Abakaliki metropolis. The commissioner said there could have been no better palliative than the provision of modern rice mill for the millers, adding that for those of them that found the state of affairs unpalatable, “It means it is time to go”.
The state government has finally been successfully in sending out the Ababliki rice millers from their 58-year old location. The governor commented that they only wanted to vacate the area as they were polluting the environment and most of the millers were non-indigenes of the state with about 78 percent shareholders of the firm being from other states. Few millers explained that the state government through the office of the commissioner for Peace Border and Conflict Resolution, Chief Donatus Aja, dismiss the leadership of rice millers while Aja said that the tenure of Ununu led management has expired hence the government had to conduct interim elections for the millers
“They accused Ununu and his management of embezzlement, non- rendition of accounts, staying in office after tenure expiration, intimidation,” he said. Meanwhile, Ununu said that he remained the mill’s authentic chairman, as the members would not recognize the interim committee set up by the state government.