Leboku Festival holds great future for all-Ayade

Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has stated that the Leboku Festival holds a great future for both the indigenes of Yakurr Local Government Area and the State and the nation at large as it has now re-engineered the need for the youths and elderly to go back to the farms and actively participate in the cultivation of food crops.

Ayade who stated this during the 2017 Leboku International New Yam Festival at the Peace Stadium Ugep, maintained that it is hoped that through such platforms, Nigeria will gradually return to the glorious days when agriculture rather than oil was the mainstay of the national economy.

The Governor who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu heartily congratulated the Yakurr people, saying that the State Government's desire of raising the standard of the acclaimed festival in 2005, which has huge potentials of enhancing tourism in the State, has grown in dimensions to a cultural tourism festival which draws a large array of visitors both locally and internationally to Ugep annually.

According to him, as Leboku Festival is celebrated, everybody should constantly be reminded that there is dignity in labour; and that agriculture remains the only renewable source of income with amazing value chain, not only for the rural dwellers but also for the city dwellers.

On the potentials of the natural endowments of Cross River State, Ayade said that "when what we have are developed into good tourist sites we will remain a step ahead of our competitors in the tourism industry. We are determined to restore the dignity of Cross River State as the preferred tourism destination and the nations paradise, where peace, serenity and security reign".

The Governor promised to provide the enabling environment for tourism-related business to thrive in the State and called on the private sector to invest in numerous tourism offerings that Cross River State has while warning miscreants parading themselves by carrying reprehensible activities under any guise across the State to desist in their own interest or face the full wrath of the law.

He recognized the major sponsors; MTN Nigeria and MultiChoice Africa for the tremendous support received over the years, which has proven to be worthy and assured them of the States readiness to continue this worthwhile partnership.

Welcoming dignitaries, traditional rulers, invited guests, visitors and all present to the occasion, the Obol Lopon of Ugep, His Royal Majesty, Obol Ofem Ubana Eteng thanked God for His mercies and great harvest.

According to him, "the festival dates back to 1648 AD and it signifies the survival of our people who faced hunger after each planting season, before the discovery of Cassava when Cocoyam was used to support yam, the king of crops. It was later internationalized by the former Governor of the State, His Excellency, Mr. Donald Duke in 2007, when he discovered the tourism potentials and economic values that are associated with this festival. Today, through that act of his, about nineteen tourism sites have been awed by historical facts".

He further expressed gratitude on behalf of his people to the Governor for proposing to build a new palace for the Obol Lopon of Ugep and his prompt approval to the responses of the wellbeing of Cross Riverians despite the lean resources of the State.

Speaking on the communal clash between the Ebom and Ebijakara Communities of Abi Local Government Area, that left the Ebijakara people homeless for twelve years, Obol Eteng appealed to Ayade to start the resettlement process of Ebijakara people, who since 2005, have been living in Ugep and other parts of the State, stating that he is more than willing to partner with the State government on any aspect he can on the resettlement.
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