Lagos Rocks, As Gov. Ayade Unveils Calabar Carnival 2015
Staged at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, the unveiling ceremony, which was attended by distinguished guests from different parts of Africa, including top government officials from Cross Rivers and celebrities from the showbiz industry, was a tip of the iceberg to the many activities lined up for this year’s showpiece.
According to Ayade, who will be staging his first carnival as the Executive Governor of Cross River, the theme was carefully selected to reflect current global realities, with a view to drawing the attention of government and individuals to the need to take necessary action against climate change the negative impacts that it portends.
“As we celebrate this year’s event, we present a theme that represents the true challenge of the world today. We are internationalising the carnival and for the first time we are bringing in 16 countries that will be participating this year,” he said.
Apart from the regular bands (Bayside band, Masta Blasta Band, Freedom Band, Passion-4 Band and Seagull Band), this year’s street party will witness a new band of Beauty Queen led by the governor himself.
“This year, we will be introducing the Governor’s Band and these beauty queens will join me that day. Irrespective of their states of origin, they represent the beauty, elegance, style and class of the average Cross River youth. I will add value to their beauty and help them to realise their full potentials,” he assured.
While the Children Carnival has been repackaged as family funfair, Ayade informed this year would also witness the introduction of Bikers Day and Disco Fiesta as new offerings at the carnival, assuring of maximum security all through the celebration.
“The carnival can only get better with additional activities and restyling of the old ones. Our people are emotionally stable and content with what they have. However, full team of security will be mobilised to ensure we have a peaceful festival,” he said.
As a result of the volume of consumes being used for the cervical yearly, the Cross Rivers State government is planning to set up a garment factory in the state, which will create jobs for the youths, as well as reduce the amount of money being spent yearly on the importation of various costumes for the festival.
Addressing the gathering, leader of the Seagull Band Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa went down memory lane on the history of the carnival as conceived by Donald Duke, commending subsequent administrations for sustaining the project.
“Like any other concerned citizen of Cross River, I was initially worried about the disposition of the new government to the festival, but with his level of commitment to the project so far, Governor Ayade has allayed all fears,” she said.
Ita-Giwa, who is also the Chairman, Calabar Carnival Bands Association added that, “when Donald was leaving, we thought that would be the end of the Carnival. But when Imoke came in, he took the carnival a notch higher. With time, the carnival also became capital intensive, but despite the challenges, Imoke managed to keep it going. When Professor Ayade came, the same fear was entertained, but with what you are all witnessing this evening, it is obvious the Carnival can only get better.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Cross River State Carnival Commission Gab Onah is optimistic that this year’s carnival would attract more than 50,000 participants.
Though an unveiling ceremony, the event was spiced with musical performances by the likes of Waje, Patoranking and Iyanya, who was also unveiled as the Ambassador of Cross River. Notable among guest at the event are Olu Maintain, Mo Abudu of EbonyLife, Kcee, Chinedu Ikedieze, Blacky, Enyinna Nwigwe, Elvis Chuks, John Okafor (Mr. Ibu) and others. Also present were African delegates at the biggest travel exhibition in West Africa, Akwaaba African Travel Market, which opened the same day.
Created in 2004 by former Governor Donald Duke, the carnival is an annual month-long event that brings tourists from all over the world to Cross River State. This year, the carnival will hold at its new venue, Old Calabar Zoo Garden, which has been cleared ahead of the street party.