Inside Benue’s local brewery where pensioners abide

By Dorothy Abellegah  

 Life after retirement can be frustrating especially when the retiree does not have any meaningful venture to keep busy. But for those who planned, life of a public servant, after retirement is impactful and fun.

For majority of retirees in Makurdi, Benue State, they do not want to go cap in hand begging from office to places looking for means to survive. They have turned a local brewery into offices.

For this reason, many pensioners in the state abide in a place called PADOPADS. There, local liquor popularly known as Burukutu is brewed in large quantity.

Situated at the highbrow High-Level area of Makurdi, Benue State, both young and old persons, especially pensioners who have retired from the state service converge on the place. They unwind and make merry, as well as discuss issues of general societal development.

Mr Vitalis Agia, leader of the pensioners.            Mr John Atule, ex-service man.                                                                Other consumers of the brew.

One interesting thing that is peculiar with PADOPADS is that retirees have converted the spot into a place where they throng every day, as their work place, after retirement. Ex-military men also converge here.

In the place, the pensioners have made make-shift tents popularly called Ate, where they sit every day. The tents are named after indigenous groups and/or intermediate areas in the state.

For example, there is ‘Ate of pensioners’ and ‘Ate u Ityemimyongo,’ meaning sitting together in unity. Also, there is Ate u Tiv and Ate u Dooshima. All of them have loan schemes. The retirees report to the places as early as 8.am and stay till the close of day.

The local financial loan schemes fondly called ‘Bam’ are used by the pensioners to help themselves in time of any financial need or emergency situations.

At PADOPADS, the local brew called Burukutu is what the pensioners take to unwind. According to them, the brew keeps them healthy and busy, and that it is healthier than beer.

The brewers, who are basically women, said they sell to the pensioners about 600 litres per day. They measure it in calabashes between N50 and N100 while a small paint bucket goes for N250 and semi-big bucket is N500. The big paint bucket called “Ijov” is sold at N2,500.

Forty seven year-old Felicia Wonov and her assistant, Catherine Aguji, 46, explained the brewing process to our reporter. While Felicia is married with three children, Catherine also has four children. They said they ventured into the business because “it pays our rent and we also use it to pay school fees for our children.”

Agia Vitalis is a retired personnel with the state department of establishment and leader of one of the pensioners’ groups. He said the joint serves as venue for expanding acquaintances. He noted that politicians who associate with the spot usually win elections.

He further stated that, even when someone does not have money, once he or she goes to PADOPADS, he is sure to have a drink and socialise.

For John Atule, an ex-service man who was met in the place said, as a child, he grew up to know the local liquor being used for traditional rites whenever there is good yield from farms, the elders will toast the brew and pour libation.

Another consumer, John Aluga termed Burukutu as a unity drink. He said it is difficult for someone to be poisoned because they all drink from one source, unlike in a beer spot.

One thing that is sure is that, the unity achieved from being together is enhancing the welfare of the pensioners.

Preparing the brew before filtering                             Felicia Wonov (right), Head of PADOPAS Burukutu outlet and Catherine Aguji, her assistant. 



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