Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola has questioned the categorisation of Nigerian alcoholic drinks popularly called ‘Ogogoro’ as illegal, especially in view of efforts to diversify the economy.
The minister raised the poser on Wednesday in Abuja while speaking during the Central Bank of Nigeria’s consultative roundtable session.
“I have heard a lot about diversification, and I wonder what are we really doing?” the minister asked, before explaining that there were anomalies in the drive.
Fashola drew from his experience upon arrival at the venue of the session to back his point.
He explained that on arriving at the venue of the CBN event, he was asked to wash his hands with soap and water and also given a hand sanitiser to use, as part of precautions against the spread of the coronavirus.
The minister was, however, displeased that the sanitiser was made in China.
“The second point is that it is made of berries and alcohol and I know that berries grow wild in Plateau and this sanitiser is made in China.
“The other component of it is alcohol. So, why is our ogogoro illicit?” he questioned.
While the audience burst into laughter in reaction to his question, Fashola was quick to add that, “this is an important point”.
“Why is our ogogoro illicit? Gordon Gin, Rum, Schnapps are not illicit, don’t they contain the same basic components of alcohol?”
“Why are our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and industries not producing these sanitisers for us to use in Nigeria?” Fashola continued.
According to the Minister, these examples and recent global developments provide opportunities for Nigerian industries and manufacturers to embrace and proffer solutions.
He tasked that Nigerian experts constructively deal with problems to successfully defeat it.
The Minister also suggested that the CBN consultative forum should be a continued engagement because it brings together Nigeria’s brightest minds.
“It should be beyond a one-day event,” Fashola concluded.