OrderPaperToday– The Senate Committee on Ethics, Public Petitions and Privileges has charged Rites Foods Nigeria Limited, makers of Bigi drink, Coca-Cola and Seven Up companies to maintain a healthy competition that will ultimately lead to more economic growth and employment for the Nigeria’s unemployed citizens.

Coca-Cola and Seven Up are foreign soft drinks brands while Rites Foods Nigeria Limited is a wholly indigenous organisation.

The Senate had received a petition from Rites Foods Nigeria Limited against its Coca-Cola and Seven Up companies are allegedly not encouraging healthy competition in the industry.

The three companies appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Public Petitions and Privileges for a mediation that was held behind closed doors.

After the executive session, the chairman of the committee, Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo) briefed journalists and disclosed that the lawmakers had charged them to maintain a healthy competition among themselves.

Akinyelure said, “Essentially we are stakeholders in this country and as democratically elected representatives of this country in the Red Chamber, our position in issues like that is to find a middle ground to ensure that these big players, none of them goes under. We looked at it from submissions from both sides, we found out that there are some misconceptions. There are three dominant players in the soft drink industry. We have the Coca-Cola, Seven Up and Rites Foods Nigeria Limited, makers of Bigi drink.

“We appreciate, as senior citizens of this country, that Rites Foods Limited is a wholly owned indigenous company that should be encouraged in all ramifications. They have only one plant and they have been able to do the magic through the dedicated team of management staff.

“Within four years, they were able to compete favourably with Coca-Cola and Seven Up and by market rating, they have the market rating. And when we heard from the Seven Up management, they appreciated the competitiveness of Rites Foods Nigeria Limited, the makers of Bigi drinks, and also, they are developing strategies on how to compete favourably in the market.

“We have been able to sit the two management together because we believe it is an issue that can be resolved through alternative dispute resolution mechanism that will bring more result to this country than damaging a wholly owned indigenous company that is competing favourably and we encouraged them to ensure that the issue is resolved amicably.”

The senator advised the companies to resolve the issue among themselves and revert to the chamber on their resolution.

He said, “At the end of the meeting we had this morning, I decided to hold a closed door meeting in my office attended by senior members of the Senate and we mediated. We told them that we do not want this issue to cause any harm because a company that is engaging over 2,000 Nigerians at a time and the other one about 5,000 Nigerians, it is our wish in the Senate to see them progressing and adding more value to this country than for issues to destroy them.

“So we resolved in the committee that we will give them about two weeks to go and come back with resolutions that would be adopted by both parties and then, we will make our report to the Senate to ensure that they go out and compete and also develop strategies that would employ more Nigerians.”

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