The Akwa Ibom state commissioner for Culture and Tourism has reacted to a sermon preached by Arch Bishop Cletus Bassey in his Destiny International Church, wherein he took a swipe at the Christmas festival being packaged by the Akwa Ibom state government through the ministry of Culture and Tourism.
In his reaction, the commissioner said that it was pure misconception to equate the festival, called Ukapisua to any fetish or even cultural activity. He said that the entire festival has the aim of showcasing the state to the world as a tourism destination and provide fun and fanfare to the people of the state and visitors during the Yuletide.
He noted that the program had no place for even masquerade play and anything anyone could remotely associate with evil or any traditional religious practices.
Hon Antai spoke copiously on the programme, while taking this reporter round the situation room, where young Akwa Ibom persons where seen ensuring that the ministry comes out with a world standard festival.
“Everything we do here is contemporary. There is nothing fetish and there is nothing pertaining to traditional practices here. Take a look at this programme, is there any hint of traditional play or practice? We are merely following the leading of our governor to show this beautiful state to the world. I heard that the clergyman even alluded to women dancing half naked, this is far from the truth. We don’t have any nude content. Our dress code is jeans and Ankara, in different designs. Take a look (pointing at pictures of the pre-event street show by the Ukapisua team), do you see anything nudity in those young men and women’s dressings?
“Our interest here is to make people come to Akwa Ibom State. We have amazing tourism potentialities that ought to be exposed to the world and our governor is just eager to do that, expose this beautiful state to the world.
“These young men and women, (Pointing at the members of the Ukapisua team holed up in their situation room), have spent many days and tiresome nights to package this programme. They are all Akwa Ibom people, young and creative. We are looking inwards to present our state in the best and most compelling contemporary manner.
“We are making our people become part of this huge street party by creating five bands, named after major tourism sites in the state. We are constructing five massive trucks that would carry the speakers and other equipment at the first floor of the truck and a second tier that would be an open space where the artists would play their music and entertain the people. Do any of these look fetish?
“The bands are the Plaza Band, named after the Ibom plaza, which has a long history in the state, starting from the time it was named Piccadilly, during the colonial period to when it was Circus, then Ibom Junction and now the Ibom Plaza. Another band is the Blue River Band, named after the Blue river, a tourism site in Ukanafun, where two rivers merge, but do not mix. The other one, is called the Bridge Band, named after the the bridge of no return in Ikot Abasi. There is also the Rolling Hills Band, that took its name from the rolling hills of Itu. The next is named after the Ibeno Beach, as the Beach Band. The Ibeno beach, as you know is the longest shoreline in Nigeria and Gov Udom Emmanuel wants the world to know about it.
“The business aspect of this programme is equally interesting. The costume for the festival is jeans and Ankara. This has boosted the business of cloth sellers, made work available for our tailors and seamstresses. We expect hoteliers to make big business from the influx of visitors to the state during the period. We want to stem the tide of our people abandoning the state during Yuletide periods to go elsewhere and have fun. We want people to rather come to Akwa Ibom state and discover her in her beauty and pristine allure.
“Rather than trying to destroy, let us help this governor, that is interested in showcasing this state, to succeed. We have invited artists and have confirmed their attendance. It is simply a street party, that would drive round the streets of Uyo and empty into the unity park for the mega show. The next day, the party would shift to the Ibeno beach, where we will all play football, basketball and other sporting activities.
“I encourage our people to be part of this programme and register in any of the bands and have fun while we show off our rich tourism heritage”.