By Ike Uchechukwu
CALABAR—Cross River State Government has restated its commitment to boost tourism through agro-cultural festivals in the three senatorial districts of the state, adding that it had created three new Agro-Cultural Festivals to boost its tourism potentials.
The festivals, which include Leboku, adopted for the Central district, Otumobong for the Southern district and a yet-to-be-named festival for the Northern zone, will come up between August and September 30, every year.
Briefing journalists on activities to mark this year’s Leboku International New Yam Festival in Yakurr, Special Adviser to the Governor on Events Management, Mr. Kenneth Akla, said the festivals will further ensure peace and unity among the various communities in the state.
It will be recalled that the Paramount Ruler of Yakurr and Obol Lopon of Ugep, HRM Obol Ofem Ubangha Eteng, had, a day earlier, assured visitors coming for the Leboku International New Year to feel free because their safety was guaranteed.
The paramount ruler who spoke at in his Umo Otutu palace while briefing journalists on activities lined up for the 2017 Leboku international New Yam festival, said that the old stereotype that Ugep people were cannibals and murderers was not true, adding that Yakurr and Ugep in particular were safe.
“Ugep is now the Harlem of Cross River State and the 49th city in Nigeria according to United Nations standard. We have upgraded from being the largest urban Village to a city.
“The old barbaric stereotype of us been murderers and cannibals are not true. I want to assure everyone coming to Yakurr and Ugep during and after the festivals that my domain is safe both for legitimate business and pleasure,” he added.
Meanwhile, Akla added that the state government regarded agro-cultural festivals as very important for the peaceful co-existence of various communities across the state, hence it decision to accord it top priority.
“The current administration is very passionate about New Yam festivals and other important cultural festivals that showcase the great cultural heritage of our people. We are also aware that these cultural festivals have over time served as rallying points for the peaceful co-existence among various indigenous peoples and communities in Cross River State.
“Therefore, in the attempt to preserve this very important part of our existence, the state government has created three new festivals to be celebrated by each of the three senatorial zones beginning from 2017, Leboku International New Yam Festival, Ugep 2017.