It was a cold and rainy Friday evening in the ancient town of Ogoja. The inclement weather did not however, prevent Governor Ben Ayade from storming the town.
Mission: To inspect ongoing installation of equipment at the Ogoja rice mill, one of the showpieces of his aggressive Industrialisation drive.
“It is eye popping, jaw dropping,” chorused many catching a glimpse of the mill for the first time.
The magnificence of the mill left mouths agape. And then, someone in the bewildered crowd billowed: “seeing is believing.”
And in a dramatic twist, one of the first time visitors, fixing a direct, deep gaze on the state of the art machineries at the mill said he could not believe he was not somewhere in Frankfurt, Germany.
“No! This can’t be Cross River…this can’t be Ogoja. This (the rice mill) looks more like what I have once come across in Frankfurt, Germany,” he said, to no one in particular.
Then almost in the same breath, he exclaimed loudly “seeing is believing!” re-echoing the initial sayer of the word.
Looking at the direction of Governor Ayade who all the while was being debriefed by engineers on site as he inspected a section of the mill after another, the awe struck first timer, as if remote- controlled by unseen forces let out music-like rendition- “Oh yes, I know, I now believe; seeing is believing; I have seen; now i believe.This is Ogoja and not Frankfurt, this is our own rice mill. Ayade is the best, this governor has shown class.This mill is classy!”
The above scenario played out Friday May 31st, 2019 during governor Ayade’s tour of the ultra modern Ogoja rice mill, the first and biggest of its kind in Africa. Apparently satisfied with the level of work at the plant, the governor said the facility which is about 95 completed will commence production in a few months time.
According to the elated governor, the Ogoja rice mill boasts the latest technology. He disclosed that a team of German experts were in the plant to ensure that it runs on solar non-stop.
“This the first vitaminised rice plant in Africa, this is the latest technology…this is innovative. We have a team from Germany working to see that the plant runs on solar because if the mill has to run on diesel we will be running the factory at a loss,” he said.
Also on the inspection train was the immediate past Cross River state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke.
Beaming with smiles and exuding satisfaction, the former governor was full of praises for his predecessor, describing the establishment of the rice mill as huge and timely.
Commending governor Ayade on his Industrialisation drive, the former governor said Ayade’s industries are life-changing and have redefined Cross River, changing the economic narratives of the state.
“The rice mill is huge, it is a project that makes economic sense, it is a project that creates employment, I love the location, it is ideally located. It will capture rice from northern, central and Southern Cross River in terms of access to the market”, Imoke said
The former governor@@q further stated that the establishment of the rice mill was timely.
“I have always talked about timing. The Ogoja rice mill came at the right time. It came at a time the federal government has committed billions of naira to local rice production.”
“This mill fits into the governor’s vision for industrialized Cross River. So, in the area of Industrialization, I give it to him,” Imoke further stressed.
Apart from serving rice growers in Cross River, experts and rice farmers say the Ogoja rice mill can also be of use for rice farmers in Benue and near by Ebonyi State as there are no modern rice mills in the two states.