Robert Azibaola, a cousin to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan has called for the lifting of the ban on local gin popularly known as Kaikai, lamenting that ‘ogogoro’ still remained outlawed in the statute books of states in the federation.
Noting that the ban was imposed during colonial rule, he identified the prohibition of kaikai as a ploy by europeans to preserve their distilleries in Europe while branding gins produced in Nigeria by artisanal distilleries as “Illicit”.
Naija News reports that Azibaola, who stated this during a conversation with reporters in Yenagoa yesterday, argued that alcoholic beverages brewed abroad are not different from the locally brewed ones.
He maintained that the belief that locally-made drinks were inferior was wrong and without scientific basis, hence wondered why the discriminatory tag instituted by the colonial masters was yet to be jettisoned.
The ex-president’s relative lamented that the erroneous belief had hindered the growth of local drinks industry which would have helped to reduce the level of poverty as the local drink could become an export commodity to earn foriegn 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 is labelled as illicit drink for over 60 years since after Independence is what baffles people like me,” he said
He noted with dismay that people whose livelihood depended on the local gin were being arrested, while those who deal in alcoholic gins brewed abroad are treated as doing normal business.
It would be recalled that the production and consumption of the locally distilled drink also known in local parlance as ‘Ogogoro’ was banned in June 2015 by Bayelsa government following death of 20 people in Ondo state after consuming the drink.
Other states in the South-South region subsequently outlawed the production and consumption of the local drink, however, the consumption has remained largely secret due to clampdown by security agencies.
The rights activist has now called on politicians, particularly the lawmakers of the state assemblies to expunge the obnoxious laws from the statue 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,” Azibaola said.
The lawyer argued that basic science clearly showed that “alcohol is alcohol and produced through same basic process of distillation” wondering 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 this foreign gins and do not do same for the local alcohol , there is no difference between the two, they are all mixture of water and alcohol,” he said.