The secretary of the Cross River State North Festival (NorthFest) pageant subcommittee, Mr. Noel Ugbong has disclosed that he has a covenant with the Northfest pageant and nobody could have influence the judges decision.

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 the services of a Consultant was engaged to provide modalities that will produced an acceptable contest that will surpass the maiden edition and make it sustainable beyond Government expectations, and proffer solutions for funding as well.

“The Nothfest Pageant, requires activities that spans months of preparations, planning, and logistics put in place for execution. From the Governor’s Office, we have the mandate to pilot the affairs of the Northfest Pageant and Reality Show.

“The mandate authorised me, the right to source for funds, carryout publicity and to liaised with the Consultant to get it executed. All Government Pageant are run with consultants.

“It became necessary because the mandate says; we should ensure that, it’s done in a manner to surpass the 2017 Edition. Hence, we engaged the services of a Consultant to give us modalities on how we can produce Queen and King that will be acceptable.

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.

On the issue of accountability, Mr. 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.”

Mr. Ugbong had also 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.”

Reacting to the issues that trailed the decision of the judges on the top ten category. Mr. 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.

“I had to look out for someone who had not been a judge in previous pageantry in order to avoid influencing the result, which led to me calling Mr. Hope Obeten, CEO of Calabar Blog 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

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.