Rice farmers in Abia State have challenged the 2019 governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr Alex Otti, to patronize rice farmers in the State to disprove his recent claims on the product.
Otti, had in a press conference held in far away Lagos, accused Abia State government of lying about the existence of Abia rice. According to him, “Abia state has consistently lied to the world that there is a state government sponsored agricultural revolution in Abia, including the nonexistent Abia rice.”
In their reaction, the Abia State Accelerated Rice Development Program, through their Coordinator, Pastor Okechukwu Dike, said in a press statement made available to newsmen on Thursday, that it is unfortunate that Otti would address a press conference without carrying out a simple investigation. He challenged Otti to avail himself of the opportunity presented by Governor Ikpeazu’s rice revolution and place his Christmas order as a way of patronizing his people even if for the first time and to also prove if Osikapa Abia has the capacity to meet up with his rice demands.
The statement reads in part:
“We shall be dignifying the falsehood of Dr. Alex Otti if we keep quiet. It is disheartening that a man of Dr. Alex Otti’s calibre should be peddling these lies about us, Osikapa Abia. For the avoidance of doubt and in order to state the records straight, we wish to state as follows:
“That the statement credited to Dr. Alex Otti about Osikapa Abia Rice are all lies
“That it is very unfortunate that a man of his standard should make a press release without simple investigation.
“Having failed in his gubernatorial pursuit, Dr. Alex Otti should find other ways of being relevant other than dropping cheap lies.
“Osikapa Abia is a government rice development programme initiated by Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu in order to harness the rice potentials of the state and to create job for the farmers and youths of the state. Osikapa Abia is meeting up with this mandate.
“Osikapa Abia programme started in 2017 but was officially launched on 28th September, 2019 by the Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu.It has its head office at Uzuakoli, in a fenced large expanse of about 23 plots of land. The factory houses numerous millers, de-stoners, polishers and other rice milling machines. Administrative block with conveniences, waiting halls and warehouses have all been constructed. I therefore ask which Rice mill was Dr Alex Otti describing as being housed in two untidy rooms? I make bold to say that Dr AlexOtti did not visit our mill. There are other ways of seeking relevance other than disrupting the peace of the state. Dr. Alex Otti should seek those alternative ways of being relevant.
“Other than the one at Uzuakoli, we also have Rice mills at Acha, Isuikwuato, Ofeme and Bende. New mills will soon be built at other strategic rice producing areas of the state in no distant time.
“Rice distribution outlets have been opened at Abia Line Head Office, Umuahia with another warehouse at Ugwunchara, Umuahia. New ones at Ohafia and Aba will soon be opened.
“I implore Abians and Nigerians to see beyond the cheap lies and “pull him down” syndrome of Dr Alex Otti and focus on the good works of the Governor in areas of rice cultivation and processing. For the first time in the history of our dear state has a Governor sourced and supplied improved rice seedlings to her farmers. Also many farming implements were given to farmers during this farming season. The farmers are happy for this gesture of the Governor. Farmers can now process their rice within the state and the government with other interested buyers have been buying all processed rice from those willing to sell
“We implore Dr. Alex Otti to avail himself of this Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu Rice revolution and place his Christmas order as a way of patronising his people for the first time and to also prove if Osikapa Abia has the capacity to meet up with his Rice demands.”