Cross River monarch threatens to stop MTN from sponsoring Leboku Festival

MTN Nigeria CEO, Ferdie Moolman

Cross River State Monarch has threatened to stop MTN, the main sponsors’ of the popular Leboku festival from taking part because of poor funding of the festival.

This threat came from the Obol- Lopon to the throne of Yakuur kingdom, Obol-Lopon Ofem Ubana Eteng, noting that plans to hand over the festival to the National Troupe under federal government are ongoing with the coming visit of the Managing Director of the troupe to this year’s Leboku Festival.

The Ruler of the old kingdom disclosed this to The Guardian and some women journalists in the state, who paid him a courtesy visit in his palace in Ugep, Yakurr local council of the state.

He lamented that the owners of the festival have not been having their rightful place in the Leboku festival, saying, “We all know that MTN partners with the state government to sponsor leboku, but we are not benefiting from it as we should.

“The worst is that last year, the cars given to Mr. and Mrs. Leboku were second hand cars and we are discussing with government that they should hands off, MTN and the government should hands off Leboku as this year, I’m bringing the national troupe, we are going to be captured by the national troupe.

The Managing Director of the National troupe will be here to watch Leboku this year.”

He said the new arrangement would boost the economy of the Ugep people with the exportation of their hereditary known to be yam to other countries of the world. He said this would be done with the involvement of the National Troupe in the planning of Leboku Festival as a national event.

“We are going to repackage Leboku as a national event.  What I am trying to do is to ensure that I open them to the world. We will start exporting yams.

Ugep is known to have yams. Our hereditary is yam so we will start importing yams.

Those are arrangement to ensure that Leboku does not stop with the management of the MTN.

The cars are not enough; the owners of Leboku don’t have an impact. Imagine they will give N1.5m, we are to produce programme; we are to sponsor all the things that was used for the festival. So, in the end, we do not have anything remaining that is why we struggled to get Leboku to the National Troupe.”

He continued: “Once I return next year from the National Conference, we will ask MTN and the State Government to hands off Leboku; we will deal straight with the national troupe.

“The State Government is begging me not to do that that it should be under the government, but being under the government, the people are suffering, yet they are not finding solution. So, we have to find way for our self that is why the Federal government will package Leboku for us now.”

He complained that Leboku under the sponsorship of MTN has not received the proper exposure it deserves.

“There are so many people who don’t know we are in this part of Nigeria. I attend a function sometime in January, people were surprise to see me dress like this and sometimes, it is somehow embarrassing that even in the twenty first century people don’t know that there is a place that dress like this in Nigeria,” the Obol Lopon regretted.

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