Cross River North Fest: A deliberate action plan for tourism development In Northern Cross River State by Governor Ben Ayade, By Ifere Paul

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The Cross River North Fest may have come to an end, but it colorful memory will remain longer in the minds of the people, especially, in the Northern Cross River.

Since the development of Calabar Carnival, a street party displaying scintillating and sexy maidens clothed in elaborate and fanciful bands, designed to showcase hospitality of the Cross River State and its people, while attempting to display the socio-ethnocultural and economic development of the State. This street party is the biggest in Africa, attracting million of tourists far and wide.

The Calabar Carnival though a yearly programme and organized by government had not had another competitive and appealing for event that could also attract tourists, apart from the Yakurr International New Yam Festival.

The Yakurr International New Yam Festival is a traditional new yam celebration done to commemorate with the God Almighty and the ancestors for a bountiful harvest and to offer prayers for many more bountiful harvests. This celebration was spiced up by Governor Donald Duke who gave the event a facelift to meet the standard needed to attract tourists to Ugep.

Apart from these two events, no other has met the potential to attract attention of national or international tourists. Hence the idea to birth the Cross River North Fest.

The Cross River North Fest is apparently the biggest socioeconomic and cultural celebration in Cross River North. It houses the 5 Local Government Councils of the Cross River Northern Senatorial District. Which comprises of Bekwarra, Obanliku, Obudu, Ogoja, and Yala.

The Cross River North Fest was inaugurated in 2017 by Governor Ben Ayade towards promoting unity, commerce and trade cooperation, for economic growth and advantage amongst the 5 Local Government Councils. The uniqueness of these LGAs and the cultural semblance makes this event all too important for Governor Ben Ayade who has seen into the future.

The 2022 Cross River North Fest celebration came with a splendor never before seen or experienced.

It was well organized with different events and competitions that helped to entertain and promote the lifestyles of these LGAs to the outside world. It brought farmers and customers to a single market with different farm produce from the 5 Local Government Councils.

The 17th of December, 2022, is the grand finale of the Cross River North Fest. The Festival maidens are traditionally and culturally attired in colors representing each LGA.

Crisscrossing the event grounds up and down with their most uncommon sensual gait, showcasing their body refinement and curves, they wriggle their traditionally beaded waist with their nipples protruding out and nudging the linens on their chest to give way. Fine legs put forward, they catwalk round and about like the sunflowers of Nile Valley.

The wrestlers are ready, the food eating competitors are seated and waiting.The huge crowd is antsy and excited as the Digital Governor, Senator Ben Ayade waves from his stool.

From the distance not too far from the event ground, she stood with her majestic elegance. As the sun sets in the horizons its simmering rays cascade and cast it golden glow over her face.

The Ogoja Vitaminized Rice Mill stood there like a gigantic petrochemical company in the middle east, all round beautiful, producing one of Ogoja abundant agro produce from the Bansara alluvium plains.

As the engines hum inside, more and more bags of rice are produced. A stable but rare food in Nigeria.

As I look on back at the crowd at the event, it occurs to me Senator Ben Ayade, the Executive Governor of Cross River State, has delivered on his 2017 promise to Northern Cross River State. It occurred to me too, that, as these people go back to their local government, a new message is born. That the Ogoja Vitaminized Rice Mill is ready and functional. People would no longer take their paddy to Ebonyi and Benue States.

As 2023 elections draw near, the governor wants the people to judge him according to the projects he has attracted to Northern Senatorial Districts.

He has to his credit the Obudu German Hospital, Obudu International School, Obudu International Cargo Airport, Bekwarra Groundnut Oil Factory and many more.

The governor is now providing boreholes in hard to reach terrains, solar street light to community without national power grid.

In all, my honest opinion is that Governor Ben Ayade has done earnestly well for Northern Cross River. A little more than other senatorial districts. Therefore deserves a shot to be elected as the next senator of Cross River Northern Senatorial District.

● Chief Ifere Paul is
SSA to Governor Ben Ayade Executive Governor of Cross River State, Nigeria.

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