By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Participants and organisers of the maiden Cross River Talent Hunt show have hailed the massive pool of talent abound in the state as well as the initiative which saw over two hundred and thirty youths participate with three bagging cash prizes worth twelve thousand dollars.
The Commissioner for culture and tourism, Mr. Eric Anderson; his counterpart in the women affairs ministry, Mrs. Stella Odey; Nollywood veteran, Segun Arinze among others in different interviews, said they were amazed at the talent on display at the finals of the talent hunt
“I have been amazed,” Mr. Anderson said at the sidelines of the finals held at the cultural center complex in Calabar, adding that: “People making bags, music, acting like I have never seen before. I am actually very thankful to God that we thought this out and the government has actually supported this a hundred percent and I am extremely happy and pleased.”
Mr. Anderson said the state has planned a sustainable path for both the talent hunt and the winners to ensure its continuous growth and expansion. The commissioner who said the initiative was borne when the governor, Senator Ben Ayade and him attended a similar program where a little girl was playing a violin, said that: “I whispered to His Excellency that it is good for us to make it an annual event so we are going to put it in the budget of the ministry of culture and tourism for next year.
“Secondly, for us to also see that we spend money on this and they are able to expand in their creativity, they all sent in their business plans, so whoever wins first, second and third prize; we will be working with that business plan. Yes, you are winning the money, but then we will go through your spending of that money to be sure that you actually expand so that by next year when we come back, we will bring those guys up here and you will see the difference between now and next year.”
He expressed optimism that it will curb restiveness even as he urged those who could not get in to keep trying as the state is also planning to fund some special crafts which may not emerge winners.
On restive youths who are creative, he averred that: “I will just simply say get involved. I got involved and I got this far. The guys up on stage there are involved and by God’s special grace they are going to step it up. For those that couldn’t make it, try again next year.
“We had 232 people that came in for the auditions and for the period of three days going to another one week, they were trying to get on this platform. So, we will try to develop more content like this to keep them out of the street. Yes, out of 223, three people are going to win but then we are still going to look at those special crafts to see how we can fund as a government. Now if the lady making bags doesn’t make it to the first three, we should be able to call the lady and give her some money to make more bags as memorabilia for our festival.”
For Mr. Arinze who was one of the adjudicators, he was impressed with what he saw and explained the process for awarding points. “We follow talent, we follow originality; the necessary requirements are things that we see, the extra in the ordinary. I have seen quite a lot of talent this evening and I am quite impressed Cross River has got it,” he said.
On the ability of the winners to reach the zenith of their careers, the actor and filmmaker said that: “It depends on who wants it the most. I have seen talent hunts where people come out win the prize and fade into oblivion and don’t pursue. But what I will say is that once you are recognized, you get to that platform that has been given to you, I think you should pursue your dream. Pursue your dream and make sure you get to the zenith. There is no point starting a race that you cannot finish, try and finish the race that is as far as that. But I believe that most of the talent you are seeing today, they got a great future ahead of them.”
The women affairs commissioner commended the high number of women who turned up for the talent hunt. She sued for more women participation and maintained that programs such as the talent hunt will help in women’s growth and development.
“The talent discovered here today are women and I am very glad that the ministry of tourism has been able to come up with a program like this and women are been discovered here on this program so I am very excited. It goes a long way to show that they are going to be developed from this talent hunt,” she said, adding that: “I want to advise that more women come out and take part in next year’s talent hunt because today we are discovering so many women and this is a great deal of encouragement on their part so that they can come out overtime to be able to showcase their talent and that again will build them up to become better women in future.”
Some of the finalists also hailed the initiative and called on youths to refrain from hiding their talents as they never know where it may take them. Miss Ruth Kufre, an artist, said she was invited by her friend for the audition which she submitted her piece and left for home with no hope that she will scale through. However, she received a phone call and from there, got to the last ten.
“I started drawing when I was little, I did not go for practice, it is just in me. My friend took me to where the registration was and when I got there, I did not have the hope of reaching this level. I was like let me do what I can and I got the form, filled it and during the audition, I drew the commissioner for culture and tourism development and I just went back home. I did not have hope that I will be selected among the 18 but to God be the glory, I got a phone call and I was announced one of the 18 finalists and from there I reached this level,” Miss Kufre said.
She continued: “When you have a talent in you, do not try to hide it. Nobody on earth can tell me he or she does not have a talent, everybody has talent. If you have the talent of drawing, better keep it up. Make sure you try to do something even if you don’t go to school; I am not trained, it is just a natural talent, you can also do this. Don’t say you can’t do it because I believe when I get trained, I will be better than this. As a girl, and you know that you can draw, just try, keep it up, draw and you will find passion in it.”
For Promise Agbor, a beatboxer, he said that he, “use to see videos online and I got to realize that if they could do it, then I could do it and I just put my effort; I started from scratch, tutorials and so many other things and here I am.”
“The talent hunt is a very very big platform. I see it as a platform for exposure of people that do not really have chance to go out and say this is what I do. I see this platform as more like a mirror of those people that do not have opportunities to showcase themselves,” Agbor said, adding that: “If you have a talent, do not be shy to show it out. Make sure you work and perfect on it before trying to show it out in the first place. If you have a talent, don’t hide yourself, just push yourself beyond limits and the universe will make a way for you.”
Mr. Isaac Daniel, a spoken word poet emerged winner of the competition wining five thousand dollars while Promise Agbor carted away four thousand dollars after emerging runner up while the all-female singing trio, Inspired Voices placed third and went home with three thousand dollars.
The show was hosted by Big Brother Naija season 2 housemate, Bassey Ekpenyong while acts such as eleven – year old Chika Domingo, Ekanem Asu who was joined by Segun Arinze to perform Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’ among others, thrilled the audience in between performances by the contestants.
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