By Peter Duru
MAKURDI â€” Youths in Benue State have protested the intended ban on the sale and consumption of locally brewed gin popularly called ogogoro in the state, describing the action as unnecessary and unpopular.
The youths who initially registered their protested during the public hearing of the Benue State House of Assembly Committee on the proposed ban in Otukpo have maintained that the House should concern itself with other critical issues other than frivolities like consumption of ogogoro.
At the hearing in Otukpo, chairman of the House Committee on Health who also doubles as the chairman of the session, Mr. Yakubu Ochepo, told the gathering that government had embarked on the process of banning the local gin because of the adverse effects its consumption has on the teeming youths of the state.
Ochepo had argued that the gin has taken its toll on the productive force of the entire state, attributing the high rate of anti social behaviours by youth in parts of the state to the unimaginably high rate of consumption of the gin in Benue state.
But in a swift reaction, participants spoke vehemently against the proposal and the position of the state government on the matter.
According to the spokesman of the youths, Mr. John Ochrigo, there was nothing wrong with the consumption of â€˜ogogoroâ€™ in as much as itâ€™s consumed in moderation.
â€œEven the consumption of our local foods like â€˜ebaâ€™ is dangerous to our health when that is done in excess, and that is just the simple truthâ€, he said.
He argued that if government must ban the local brew it must also make concerted effort to ban the consumption of imported gin in the state describing the two as same â€˜illicit drinksâ€™.
Ochrigo insisted that the Benue State House of Assembly does not have any business banning ogogoro pointing out that the drink does not pose any threat to the health of the people stressing that over the years â€˜ogogoroâ€™ has been a ready inexpensive energizer especially during farming season.
After the hearing, the youths trooped out into the streets to protest the proposed ban.
Meanwhile dealers of the product in Otukpo and other parts of the state have raised their voices against the proposed ban lamenting that if the governmentâ€™s proposition pulls through, many would be denied their source of livelihood.