THE Ebonyi State Government has assured rice millers in Abakaliki, capital of state, that election would be conducted before the end of this month to enable them have a new leadership.
Elizabeth Ogbaga, commissioner for Commerce and Industry, who gave the assurance in Abakaliki on Monday, January 11, attributed the major causes of the problems at the rice mills in the state capital to leadership problem.
Ogbaga and Ali Odefa, senior special adviser to the governor on security, were at the Rice Mill premises in Abakaliki following a demonstration by the security men engaged by the rice mill management over the non-payment of their December salary.
The commissioner stated that government was not interested in the leadership of the association, but explained that the election which would be supervised by her ministry in conjunction with the office of the SSA on security would be based on democratic principles.
Ogbaga, who said she noted the damage done to buildings and other properties at the mills on Sunday evening by fire from the large heaps of rice husk, expressed worry that the situation could degenerate into lawlessness if the government failed to intervene.
She consequently directed the caretaker committee chairman of the Rice Millers Association to take urgent steps to put out the fire.
The commissioner also decried the packaging of Ebonyi Rice with sacks with the inscription, “Enugu State Government” which bore the portrait of former Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State.
Earlier, Odefa had warned that government would not condone any act of lawlessness and insubordination by any member of the rice millers or security men.
Odefa frowned at the attitude of the security men who set tyres ablaze on the main road and blocked all the major entrances into the rice mills. The SSA warned that on no account should the gates of the rice mills be closed by any agitator.
He noted that the disruption of business in the mills by the security men had robbed the traders and the government of huge sums of money.
He thus, directed the protesting security men to dismantle all the road blocks and open the gates for normal business to resume.
Assuring them that the caretaker committee chairman of the rice millers association would pay them, he advised them to embrace peace as the government was set to improve their infrastructural needs.
— Jan 13, 2016 @ 17:40 GMT