Rice Mill Leadership Saga: Engine Owners Rejects Govt Plan to Conduct Election at Abakaliki Stadium

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— Insist on use of Mill’s Conference Hall

By Nwogha Ndubuisi, Abakaliki

Engine owners at the popular Abakaliki Rice Mill Industry on Friday 16th July,2021 faulted Ebonyi state government plan to conduct their election at Pa Ngele Oruta township stadium against their constitutional mandated industry’s conference hall.

The engine owners made the disclosure while briefing newsmen on the outcome of their meeting with the Commissioner for Market Development,Hon. Eze Nwachukwu Eze at the Abakaliki Rice Mill Conference Hall, Abakaliki.

Traders at Abakaliki Rice Mill barricaded entrance to the market during protest

According to one of the engine owners, Mr. Ebenezer Udegbunam (JP) lauded the State Governor, Engr. David Umahi for his intervention on the lingering leadership crisis in the industry.

Mr. Udegbunam who explained that the mill has been enjoying peace prior to the imposition of the immediate past leadership, urged the state government to allow the milling industry to conduct their election according to their constitution.

According to him: ” I came to Abakaliki Rice Mill since 1980 and have witnessed many leadership and since then we have never hold our election outside this mill except the one which government tried doing that we are still battling to come over now.

“Four major position do we contest here in the Mill: the position of Chairman,Vice Chairman, Treasurer and secretary which for equity have always share them among four states of Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra and Abia or Imo.

“I am appealing the state government not to interfere in our election by setting up electoral Committe and conducting it outside the mill as briefed to us by the Commissioner for Market Development, Hon. Eze Nwachukwu Eze, so that peace will reign in the industry for the interest of the traders.

Speaking another engine owner,Chief David Nomeh stated that engine owners would never support the conduct of their election outside the milling Industry.

According to him, the mill being one of the oldest industries in the state has a modus of electing their leadership free of rancour and bitterness.

“I have been in this industry for over fifty years now and to the best of my knowledge, Rice Mill Industry never held their election outside the mill
Conference Hall as said by the Commissioner and all we are begging him is to allow us to conduct our election in the mill and set up our electoral body so that our choice candidates will be voted in and not conducting it outside where our choice candidates will be intimated and traders will not be allowed to cast their vote and at the end return with imposition of another leadership.

Lending his voice,the Chairman Abakaliki Rice Dealers Association, Hon. Elikoro Chima commended Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi for the quick response to the demand of the people but insisted that conducting the election outside the mill would give room to politicize the process.

Traders during their recent protest

” This morning,the honourable Commissioner for Market Development, Hon. Eze Nwachukwu Eze came with the good news of government plan to conduct our election on 31st July which was a thing of joy and a true sign that governor Umahi has heard the yearning of traders and engine owners at Abakaliki Milling Industry.

“Suprisingly the Commissioner explained that our election would be conducted at Pa Ngele Oruta township Stadium and that government would constitute Electoral Committe, there by, not having recourse to what is bodly written in our constitution that our election
should be held at the industry’s conference Hall which we have two ways of conducting our election either by raising our hands or through secret ballot.

“Meanwhile,we had earlier submitted our constitution and our list as directed to him as a condition that mill owners should pay their three years tax before allowed to Conduct our election.

” It may interest you to know that engine owners had during our meeting with His Excellency, explained to him that all we needed was just for our election to be conducted which he directed the Commissioner to do with the stipulated condition but coming this morning to give the new directive without recourse to our constitution will not be acceptable.

” Currently, Abakaliki Rice Mill Industry is enjoying peace and serene atmosphere with flow of business but what the Commissioner is trying to do with the new policy is to ignite fresh crisis in this milling Industry and we are saying no to that.

“The imposition of leadership or candidate has been the reason why there was crisis in this milling industry and they do that without recourse to the industry’s constitution,hence, whoever they impose has always try to go by their bidding to the detriment of the traders.

Consequently, Mrs Fidelia Mbam, market women appeal that the election should be conducted inside the Abakaliki Rice Mill conference hall as to allow transparency and fair participation of traders in the exercise.

Others who spoke includes, prince Friday Oketa and Mr John Nnorom said moving the election from the usual venue would end intimidating traders and forcefully imposing another leadership which would further ignite fresh crisis in the mill