Judex Okoro, Calabar
Cross River Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, has deplored the upsurge in communal crisis in the state, stressing that the menace has been impeding the development.
The governor called on the traditional institution to rise to the occasion and deal with the problem headlong.
Speaking during the 2019 Leboku International New Yam Festival at Ugep in Yakurr, Cross River Central, Ayade, represented by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, said the people should embrace peace which the festival symbolises as no investor will be willing to set up a business in a troubled and insecure environment.
He said: “Recently, different parts of our state have been engulfed in one form of communal crisis or the other from Odukpani to Abi, Yala, Obudu and even Biase.
“This is quite unfortunate as the crisis has retarded development and lead to the decimation of our youthful population.
“As custodians of our traditional norms and native authority, our traditional rulers must rise to the challenge of holistically dealing with this unwholesome menace.
“I call for calm and restraint from our people as this unwholesome development impedes the socio-economic growth of affected communities and seeks to draw our state backward in development. No investor will be willing to set up a business in a troubled and an insecure environment.”
He commended the traditional rulers in Ugep for maintaining peace in the area, emphasising that the idea of the festival is to cement the homogeneity and unity among the various communities in Yakurr.
“I am happy to note that despite pockets of security challenges witnessed by the Yakurr communities in the past, we are gradually achieving sustainable peace in the area.
“Introduction of the celebration of the Leboku New Yam Festival by the state government was aimed at further cementing the homogeneity of the people and consolidating on the gains of integrated unity that the festival has engendered among the several communities in Yakurr,” he said.
He said the festival holds a great future both for the Yakurr people, the state and the nation at large, and through the festival, the government hopes to encourage youths to return to agriculture.
Earlier, Yakurr paramount, Obol Ofem Ubana Eteng, commended the state government as well as sponsors for supporting the festival over the years.
Emphasising that the festival symbolises the survival of the people of Yakurr, Eteng thanked the former governor, Donald Duke, for internationalising the festival in 2005.
On his part, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Akpeh Ogon, said the festival is a celebration of peace, unity, bountiful harvest, the beginning of a new planting season and its attendant demands.