2018 NorthFest Pageant: Monies Paid Into My Account Was For Easy Accountability – Noel Ugbong

In Breaking News, Entertainment and Lifestyle

By Efa Sunday and Mary Bassey

The secretary of the Cross River State North Festival (NorthFest) pageant subcommittee, Mr. Noel Ugbong has said that the proceeds from the sale of tickets to the event paid into his account was for “accountability and easy payment of their partners.”

Mr. Ugbong stated this on Tuesday at a post event press briefing at the secretariat of the Association of Cross River Online Journalists in Calabar.

Ugbong explained that three accounts were needed; one for sales of forms, another for payment of consultants and partners which were opened and maintained separately to prevent to avoid some challenges. The third, he said could not be opened in time and had to use his account to ensure “accountability and easy payment of their partners.”

He had promised that the bank statements will be made ready by Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

As at press time, CrossRiverWatch was yet to receive the account statement. However, Mr. Ugbong had disclosed that: “My mandate says I can generate money and spend, but I should not exceed the budgetary provisions for the pageants.

“However, my expenditure is subject to approval of the Special Adviser, Governor’s Office and Event Management Department. We had a budget of about three million plus, but as we speak, money has not yet been released for NorthFest.”

CrossRiverWatch had reported that chaos and confusion had trailed the decision of the judges on the top ten category.

And, in his reaction, Ugbong said: “You are very much aware of the fact that I was still the person responsible for the Mr. and Miss Leboku 2018. Now our consultants advised, don’t use judges from the Northern Cross River so as to avoid tribal allegiance, pick a judge from Calabar, which is the headquarters. Northern Cross River is comprised of the Old Ogoja and the Old Obudu, pick one non-indigene judge from the Old Ogoja and Old Obudu.

Special Assistant to Governor Ben Ayade on administration and secretary of the Cross River NorthFest pageant subcommittee, Mr. Noel Ugbong at the post event briefing at the ACROJ secretariat in Calabar. 30/10/2018. (Credit: CrossRiverWatch)

“I had to look out for someone who had not been a judge in previous pageantries in order to avoid influencing the result, which led to me calling Mr. Hope Obeten, who said he wasn’t disposed to come and then I had to look out for bank managers who have some form of social life and this gave rise to the three judges we used. I didn’t give any prior notice to any of the judges beforehand to avoid infiltration.”

On allegations bordering on sexual gratification, Ugbong who is also the Special Assistant to Governor Ben Ayade on administration, explained that diary sessions were introduced which allowed him to ask the contestants if they were being asked for sex in exchange for marks or anyone is compelling them to sell tickets, which according to him “the contestants wrote down by themselves in the exercise books provided them, all refuting that they were neither compelled to sell tickets nor being asked for sex by anyone.”

He also explained that though the audience and some aggrieved contestants were not satisfied with the names of the top ten produced by the judges, he decided, for the purpose of fairness both categories (male and female) nominate three contestants excluding themselves which eventually gave rise to Miss Lifu Yorkyshor Lifu as the queen of NorthFest and Master Adie, Patrick Joseph Adie as the King of the night.

L-R: Winners of the 2018 NorthFest, Lifu Yorkyshor Lifu and Patrick Joseph Adie at the post event briefing at the ACROJ secretariat in Calabar. 30/10/2018. (Credit: CrossRiverWatch)

Also speaking, the Queen and King confirmed that though the pageantry was shrouded in confusion and chaos at a point but through the nominations carried out amongst themselves, the fair process was able to produce both of them as winners.

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