Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin Azibaola Roberts has called on the government to lift the ban on ogogoro (local gin).
”Today l have the privilege to prick your conscience on some basic things, basic things like Kaikai. As I speak to you, kaikai is illegal in the books of state governments, said Mr Roberts. “Kaikai distillation is a basic occupation of our people. How, for God’s sake, that kaikai is labelled as an illicit drink for over 60 years since after independence is what baffles people like me.”
Mr Roberts, who made the call while speaking with journalists in Yenagoa, noted that it was regrettable that kaikai remained under the ban.
The production and consumption of the locally distilled drink were banned in June 2015 by the Bayelsa government following the death of 20 people in Ondo after taking the drink.
Other states in the Niger Delta region subsequently outlawed ogogoro.
He further stated 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 had yet to be scrapped.
According to him, alcoholic brands brewed abroad are not different from locally brewed ones, adding that the belief local drinks are inferior was erroneous and without a scientific basis.
He lamented that the erroneous belief had hindered the growth of the local drinks industry, which would have helped reduce the level of poverty as the local drink could become an export commodity to earn foreign currency.
He called on politicians, especially lawmakers, to expunge the “obnoxious laws from the statute books.”
“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,” he reasoned.
Mr 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.”
“People spend up to N60,000 per bottle on foreign gins and do not do the same for the local alcohol,” he stated. “There is no difference between the two. They are all mixture of water and alcohol.”