CALABAR, NIGERIA. Ugep, Cross River State, Nigeria is set to host the 2017 edition of Leboku International New Yam Festival. The festival, which spans two weeks, will climax with a grand finale at the Ugep township stadium in Yakurr local Government Area of Cross River State, southern Nigeria. The traditional ruler of Yakurr also referred to as the Obol Lopon of Ugep, Ofem Ubana Eteng stated “the activities for this year’s International Leboku Festival started since on August 3rd. The entire ceremony will climax on the 22nd with the gathering of all our friends, visitors and government.”
“We are ready to host everybody. Ugep is now the 49th city in Nigeria and the largest village in West Africa. It is home to several tourism sites and hotspots. This year, we started preparations earlier than last year and I can assure you that 2017 Leboku will be better,” stressed Eteng.
Ken Aklah, the Special Adviser to the Governor of Events Management, said Finland had expressed an interest to participate at this year’s Leboku New Yam Festival as cultural exchange.
Aklah, who said security has been beefed up to guarantee hitch free festivities, said “the Finnish Ambassador to Nigeria, Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury will be here because she has heard so much about Leboku.
“Her visit is the beginning of a cultural exchange between the people of Cross River and Finland. We will also witness an influx of more tourists during the festival”, Aklah said.
Photo: Maidens At Leboku Festival
The Special Adviser explained that the reason for government’s investment in celebrating the Leboku festival was to encourage people to venture into Agricultural production.
“The government decided to take on this festival to encourage young people to go into agriculture. There are facilities at the State and Federal level, which people can access. The event is not just a jamboree, but designed to encourage farming. The government decided to challenge the people of Yakurr to the contest of the Best Farmers. At the end of the day, the overall best farmer gets a truck and the others receive cash rewards.
When other farmers and people see that those in agriculture win big prizes, people would be challenged to engage in commercial farming. We hope by so doing, our youths will embrace agriculture.”