Senate Mediates in Seven-UP, Bigi Dispute
The Senate on Tuesday mediated in the dispute between the Rite Foods Limited, makers of Bigi soft drinks and the Seven-Up Bottling Company Plc in Abuja.
The management of the Rites Food Limited had petitioned the Senate over alleged threat to the security and existence of Rites Foods Ltd, Ososa, Ogun State by the Seven-Up Plc.
The matter was referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions by the Senate for investigation and further legislative action.
The two companies were expected to appear before a Public Hearing organized by the committee to hear submissions from both parties.
However, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Patrick Akinyelure (Ondo Central) told reporters that the committee decided to mediate between the parties behind closed doors to ensure amicable resolutions.
He said that the Committee gave the parties two weeks to come up with resolutions that they adopt upon which the committee will make its report to the Senate.
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 this 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 soft 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.
“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.
“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 don’t want this issue to cause any harm because if a company that is engaging over 2000 Nigerians at a time and the other one about 5000 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 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 to go and compete and also develop strategies that would employ more Nigerians.”
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