The Cross River State governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has deplored the upsurge in communal crisis in the state, stressing that this menace has been impeding the development.
The governor called on the traditional institution to rise up to the occasion and holistically deal with this problem headlong.
Speaking at the 2019 Leboku International new yam festival held at the Peace Stadium, Ugep in Yakurr in Cross River Central, Professor Ayade, represented by the Deputy Governor, Prof Ivara Esu, said the people should embrace peace which the festival symbolizes 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.
“These are 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”, the governor said.
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 nation.
“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.
“The 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 Nation”.
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, the Paramount Ruler of Yakurr, 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 Nation, Eteng expressed gratitude to Obol Donald Duke, former governor of the state, for internationalising the festival in 2005.
On his part, the 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.
Ogon said the Yakurr nation has reaped bountiful socio-economic developments and called for peaceful coexistence among the communities in the area to ensure increased development.
The Ugep Yakurr Festival dates back to 1548AD and signify the survival of our people who faced hunger after the year’s planting season.