Best Palm Wine Found In Lejja, Retired VP Boasts

Clement Obeta Ekorie, from Amube, Lejja, in Nsukka LGA of Enugu State, retired as a vice principal (academics) in the Enugu State Ministry of Education. Mr Ekorie, a graduate of mathematics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is a foremost palm wine dealer at Nsukka. He explains why he took to the business after retirement in this interview.

Why did you choose to sell palm wine despite your mathematics background?

Retirement is statutory, and it means ‘go and rest’. So I decided to look for a job that can keep me busy after my retirement. Luckily, it is selling of palm wine that I chose. It helps me to be interacting with my customers on a daily basis. It has exposed me to all manner of people. This platform also provides me the environment to meet my old friends. In the evenings, we gather here to interact. It gives me joy.

Why didn’t you retire to your village and enjoy an undisrupted life of a retiree?

I chose to go into palm wine to make a difference. I can proudly say that I am among the leading best sellers of palm wine in Nsukka as a whole.

Why is your palm wine special?

It is because I would always look for the best. The best palm is from Lejja, and it is always special. Some time, I buy from Ede Obara. Both sources are among the best ever. It is always fresh, devoid of adulteration. My customers are always fulfilled after drinking it. When they drink it, it would not disturb them in their stomachs like some do.

What is the cost like?

On ordinary days of the week, especially from Monday to Wednesday, the price will be moderate. But from Thursday to Sunday, the price will increase because of the increased demands. These days witness a lot of activities.

How many customers do you record on a daily basis?

I record an average of between 50 and 100 customers daily. And they feel satisfied throughout their stay and afterwards.

What is your relationship with the tappers at Lejja and Ede Obara?

It is very cordial. Anybody looking for the best palm wine will always look for Ekolie to buy from. They know that I always go for the best. So I relate with genuine tappers.

What is the relationship between mathematics and palm wine?

It is by coincidence. The interest had been there. When I was in the school, I normally came out in the evening to sell little. I was in the school system then. But now that I have retired, I have decided to become a full-fledged palm-wine seller.

Do you drink palm wine?

I drink with all pleasure. How can I sell what I don’t drink? I do but not to stupor.

How do you feel drinking palm wine that is not of the best quality?

If I am not in my shop, maybe I go for some events, I always join my friends to drink palm wine. The truth is that it is not only in Lejja that the best palm wine must come from. I drink anyone that I feel will not be injurious to me.

Compare palm wine from Umunko and Lejja

In that aspect, Umunko is the best in all sincerity. Generally, palm wine tapped in Igbo-Etiti LGA of the state is of high standards. The problem is the distance, so I source from Lejja.

How best should palm wine be encouraged to be of international standards?

The government can come in. The tappers need loans and grants to produce more.

Are there youths who are professional palm-wine tappers?

Some of our youths have decided to tap palm wine because there is no job in the country, especially for school leavers. In fact, they are the ones that do the tapping business presently. The job seems stressful because they will climb the tree three times in a day.

Can high-breed palm trees produce the same quality of palm wine as our local ones?

The local palm trees are the best. People can easily say that the other breeds are crossed, hence not as good as our local palm trees. I have not done much research on that.

Some palm trees are too tall, and pose dangers to the tappers. Do you advocate cutting them down and replanting new ones?

Death is inevitable. Therefore, God that created us knows when we will die. But I encourage the tappers to always be very careful with the climbing ropes they use to avoid the risk of falling.

Compare life while in service and life as a palm-wine dealer

I was very young and energetic when I was in service. So life was better then in terms of the energy. But in terms of relaxation, this time around is very okay. It is better now because once I drink palm wine, I relax. It relaxes muscles and brains.

What is your greatest headache doing this business?

I don’t have sufficient funds as a retiree. Then, sometimes my customers owe. Some are not faithful after drinking. And you don’t know who will pay until they had finished drinking.

Apart from palm wine, what else drives customers to your shop?

I sell bush meat, dried fish, pork, among others. These things are the ingredients of drinking palm wine. When my customers take all these things, the spice in them will make them drink more. I use Ose Nsukka with its flavour.

What is your message to the youths to embrace palm-wine tapping?

I advise those that can tap palm wine to go into the business. It is a good hobby. I know some of the tappers who are building houses, got married from the money realised from the business and so on. So, our youths should start from somewhere, like palm-wine tapping if they have the skills. Parents should also encourage their children who can tap to go into it, but it should not in any way distort their education. Education is the basic.

Culled from Enugu LGA News.

Adadainfo is an online newspaper reporting Nigerian news. Email: Phone: 08071790941

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