The cat and dog relationship between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, in Cross Rive state again played out last week as both threw verbal missiles at each other over alleged repackaging and rebagging a brand of rice which government calls ‘Ayade Rice’
Mens Ikpeme, Publicity Secretary of the APC has fired the first salvo. He accused the government of re-bagging and re-branding an alleged smuggled rice and renaming it ‘Ayade Rice’ with an intention to deceive the entire people of the State.
The APC said “the Governor acquired a large expanse of land at Ogoja, named it ‘rice village’. A fraudulent fake rice factory in the State, powered through smuggled rice from neighbouring countries.
“Several trucks with thousands of bags of rice smuggled into the State was apprehended and impounded by the Nigerian Custom and Excise, this is a commodity banned by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Governor Ayade’s Government in smuggling bags of rice, is the height of fraud in the nation and this leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the public.”
Responding, the government dismissed APC’s allegation as a product of dementia. Describing the APC in the state as black market liars, Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Media and Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Ita, said the party, like its national headquarters, is one intractably steeped in the art of mendacity, and that the allegation was aimed at deflecting attention from the gross failings of the party at the centre.
“It is galling that the state chapter of the APC, along with its leadership, is so disoriented to a scale that it can no longer differentiate between a rice mill which is currently under construction in Ogoja and a rice city located in Calabar as a seedling bed. The two are completely different projects which are at various stages of construction.
“Mr. Mens Ikpeme’s claim is nothing but outright concoction and an act of dementia directed at misinforming the public. Governor Ayade, had at inception made it abundantly clear that no longer shall rice produced in the state be processed and labeled as rice from elsewhere other than Cross River. He is working hard to achieve this goal. And before long, Ogoja rice processing plant will come on stream.
“It is most unfortunate how people could go to such a deprecatory length to fabricate and malign another person all in the name of playing opposition. It is not only mendacious but equally malicious to impute what is not true. What was unveiled recently was rice produced from the governor’s farm, Ayade Farms in Obanliku Local Government Area. Pending the completion of the Ogoja automated rice mill, harvest from the Ayade Rice Farm had had to be milled at a plant in Makurdi, MIKAP Nigeria Limited, producers of MIVA Rice, owned by former Attorney General and Minister for Justice Michael, Michael Andoakaa.
“Ayade’s species of rice is Faro 44. It would be recalled that Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele came with his team on a sight inspection and expressed satisfaction with the governor’s commitment to go into rice farming. The fact is out there to cross check. But the desperation to play petty politics has blinded our armchair critics,” the CPC stated.