How Ayade Is Bonding The North Through Agro-Cultural Festival
By Linus Obogo
When His Excellency, Governor Ben Ayade decided three years ago to organize a festival, christened: NORTHFEST, one thing was very prominent on his mind: to create a rallying point, something of a rendezvous, for our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters as well as traditional fathers to bond together through harnessing of our agricultural potential.
Before the governor had a brainwave in 2015, every one of the the five council areas, comprising Bekwarra, Obanliku, Obudu Ogoja and Yala was doing its own thing, as far as the new yam celebration was concerned.
Then like a bolt out of the blue, Ayade sprang forth a vision that would allow the disparate new yam festivals coalesce into one big AGRO-CULTURAL carnival.
Significantly, the idea was to stimulate interest and foster keen competition in agriculture as a major defining feature of our people. Essentially too, it was a bold attempt to demonstrate our uncommon desire and determination to stick together as one, through a participatory festival that brings the five local government areas of Northern Cross River to have an epic Agro-Cultural celebration.
There was also the need to seize the moment to reemphasize our strength as the food basket of the state and by implication ramp up the local economy of the zone.
Three years down the line, the journey has been a tumbling story of success, bumper harvests, occasioned by healthy competition, unity, cultural harmony, as well as discovery of creative talents in our army of youthful and energetic population.
While the festival has not only become such a pivotal event for our people to look forward to every year, it has no doubt enhanced a sense of healthy competition among the various farmers across the five LGAs, with star prizes for the farmer from a local government with the largest yam, groundnut or cassava harvest, as well as the best palm wine tapper.
In similar token, the festival has also birthed competitions in pageantry, traditional wrestling, musical performances among the wider spectrum of our people across the five council areas.
Until 2015 when the agro-cultural festival was initiated by His Excellency, the Governor, what used to obtain was every local government for itself or better still, everyone for himself and God for all.
But today, the festival has engendered a sense of community and commonality among the people that make up the five local government councils. It has been to unify the people through cultural integration.
Additionally it has succeeded in boosting agricultural production through keen and healthy competition, and consequently expanding the economic base of the zone.
The hitherto latent talent in our vibrant youth population is being harnessed, thanks to the opportunities thrown up to discover their creative talent.
And of course, we now have a unifying festival calendar that every Northern Cross Riverian can now look forward to participating. These have been some of the huge gains from organising the Northfest.
The festival has clearly demonstrated the determination of a people to not only stand together but also stick together.
..Obogo is Secretary to Media Committee of Northfest