The NorthFest celebration is in its second edition and was held at the Ogoja traditional stadium. The 1st edition was held in September 2017 at same venue.
Judex Okoro, Calabar
It was glitz and glamour as the kith and kin of the old Ogoja rolled out drums to celebrate their heritage and culture.
The celebration, nicknamed NorthFest, is the second edition and was held at the old Ogoja traditional stadium. The first edition was held in September 2017 at same venue.
The event among others is to regain the lost glory of the Old Ogoja made up of Ogoja. Obudu, Yala. Bekwara and Obanliku communities and strengthen the bond of unity among the people.
During the event, farm produce including garri, rice, tubers of yams and cassava were showcased. Other crops displayed include ogbono, melon seeds, and local bean.
There was also a rendition of traditional songs by women groups just as maidens displayed some dance steps while wriggling their waist to the admiration of the audience. The royal fathers were not left out as they wore their colourful regalia depicting different royal houses further adding pomp to the ceremony.
Declaring the event open, Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, a son of the Northern Senatorial District of the State, said it is his desire to strengthen the people of the area to become more cohesive and united.
“I will focus on the dual carriage way from Mfom down to Obudu ranch as this will bring us together, increase our intermarriages, make us grow closer and become one family in the entire north and above all reduce the travel time from 56 minutes from Obudu to Yala to 17 minutes. I also challenge the youths of the zone to participate actively in agriculture as a means of wealth creation. As young men, if you want to make money from me, bring your produce here and Ayade will buy all. The significance of this NorthFest is not only to encourage our people to seek integration among us but above all to focus on agro industry.
“This second edition of the northern festival represents a journey towards the actualisation of a paradigm that will guarantee the classical demonstration of the peace and unity of the people of the north.”
While commending the organisers and participants for the improvement on this year’s event, Ayade who took an inspection of the yam barns, the arts and crafts as well as the mini market displayed by the various local government areas, announced several changes to make the event bigger and better next year.
He listed the changes to include an amazing royal ensemble by the various local government areas where the paramount rulers, clans and village heads will lead their people with the swagger that characterises a typical northerner, pounded yam competition and the native soups, pointing out that “this is our culture and we must sustain it for the festival to be the biggest in Africa.”
Other changes Ayade announced were “inclusive participation of all in a carnival-like version as there will be a band for every local government area to participate,” adding that “we will not have a situation where a large chunk of the population will be standing and watching.”
According to the governor, “everyone who comes here next year will have something to eat, there will be food for every local government area, and this gate will be widely open as we make this event a strong competition to every socio-cultural programme in the state, country and Africa at large.”
Paramount Ruler of Ogoja, Buturu Godwin Denis Udu, who spoke on behalf of the traditional institution, described Ayade as an accomplished intellectual and scientist cum entrepreneur who remains a blessing to his people.
He maintained that the governor has also applied his intellect in every respect through the various industrialization drives he introduced upon assumption of office. He vowed that the traditional institution was ready to swim and sink with Ayade in appreciation of all he is doing for the good of the citizenry.
Chairman, central planning committee, Chief Peter Ojie, thanked Governor Ayade for, “rejuvenating the agricultural base of the people by considering agriculture as profitable and something that can be done to put food on the table of the children while earning an income.”
“We thank you because you have revolutionised our thinking as we can no longer till the soil but can work with our brains and achieve a lot,” adding that “this indeed, is a new way of life and revolution that will make us compare with China and all the big nations that have done well.”
Affirming that the people of the northern senatorial district were occupationally agrarian, a vocation the governor had identified through mechanized farming, by occupation and the governor thought it wise to bring in industrialization and mechanized farming,
Ojie said: “All we have to pay you is to join the rest of Cross Riverians in renewing your mandate by 2019 because four more years of the Ayade revolution will certainly take us to where we want.”
Earlier, the Head of local government administration (HOLGA-Ogoja), Mrs. Margaret Asu, disclosed that the essence of the festival was to cement the existing bond of ancestral relationship of the people of northern Cross River.
The event also featured more cultural dances, pageantry and presentation of prizes.