NA’AR YOUTH SWAGGER 2023: How Christian music concert was tainted with ‘political’ controversy

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A political controversy on Cross River cyberspace trailed a Saturday religious music concert organised by Grace Consulate NEGROIDHAVEN can report authoritatively.

The 2023 edition of Na’ar Youth Swagger, an annual entertainment festival which holds in Calabar the Cross River state capital metropolis was ‘tainted’ with a brief political controversy.

The controversy revolved around the trio of the state commissioner for information, Mr Eric Anderson; Effiong ‘Double E’ Ekpenyong who is an aide to the governor of the state and one John Etim Bassey a politician with membership of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP.

The duo of Anderson (an invited guest) and Ekpenyong (incidentally a member of Grace Consulate), upon arriving at the U.J. Esuene Stadium the venue of the programme, were reportedly ushered to the front row of the seats which were not labelled. They were later asked to leave the seat by another usher and upon inquiring they discovered that it was John Etim Bassey who inspired the usher. This was perceived to be a form of political vendetta against Anderson and Ekpenyong who are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. It sparked a virtual conversation on Facebook.

‘We walked in while Caleb Rex Fubara was rounding off his ministration. And an usher took us to the front seat, we sat, but I observed a guy pointing towards us, later an usher walked up to us and asked us to leave that the seat we’re sitting on was already reserved for artistes but it wasn’t labelled. I told him that I can leave but, it would be embarrassing to ask Eric to leave because he’s a commissioner and member of the state cabinet. But, Eric heard us and left. We later found out that it was John who instructed that we asked out of the seat. We were embarrassed’, Ekpenyong disclosed through his Facebook timeline.

On his part, Anderson corroborated Ekpenyong’s account while adding that the ugly development ‘was a bit of a dent on Pastor’s (Lawrence Lukpata the Senior Pastor of Grace Consulate) event and the church… But, I mean, it is just political. I work with Ayade and we all have one or two things doing. If you are not part of the system again, can you just keep walking off? Each time you come back, you keep dissing my boss, and we keep keeping quiet? Enough of it. If you diss my principal, I will diss in return. After all, you were part of the system. If you’ve never been part of the system, it’s ok, whatever you want to say, it is okay. But, you were part of the same system you are saying is bad. How come this one year when we are no more together, it is now terrible?’

In response, John Etim Bassey, who said he was not at the scene of the event, denied that the vacation of the duo of Ekpenyong and Anderson was politically inspired. According to Bassey who disclosed to be the head of logistics, nobody would have ushered them to the seat in the first place, if they were asked to sit there by an usher, then it was a mistake. He disclosed that it was the head of protocol who approached them politely to explain that where they were sitting was reserved for the main guest artistes namely, Johnny Drille, GUC, Esther Orji and Dr KJ.

He explained that, ‘They are both government officials. They are in a better place to understand what protocol is. You cannot have a set of seats reserved for the main artistes for an event, with strict instructions for the usher and protocol standing in the front. Nobody would usher them to those seats because we created those seats. Because they had filled up every other seats.

‘All the front seats were filled up in that place. The seats that were originally filled up for guests were all occupied. Without wanting to be disrespectful, I went somewhere else in front of the aisle and created four seats for Esther Orji, Johhny Drille, GUC and Dr KJ. And gave strict instructions to those protocols standing in front that nobody should sit on those seats because it is for the main artistes because there’s no other seats anywhere for them. Nobody could have ushered them to that seats without the protocol standing in front’.

Bassey further explained that when the lead pastor of the church, Pst. Lawrence Lukpata, requested the audience of Ekpenyong, he declined outrightly.

In an SMS exchange between NEGROIDHAVEN and Pst. Idem Ita who is one of the leaders of Grace Consulate, he explained that, ‘Double E and Eric came to Youth Swagger, took seats that were already designated to the guest artiste without guide, they were advised to take another seat which was ushered to them but they took offense and decided to leave… That’s what transpired my brother… nothing more. The rest is political beef.’

Recall that the 2023 edition of Na’ar Youth Swagger held on Saturday 7th April at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar.



This story amongst others are reviewed on Sparkling 92.3FM and FAD 93.1FM. Again, opinions expressed on NegroidHaven are exclusively the author’s not NH’s.