By Jimoh Babatunde
The hitherto Cross River State Festival which is the most diverse leisure tourism entertainment programme in Africa has been renamed Calabar Festival and its logo unveiled in Calabar.
According to Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State during the official rebranding and unveiling of the logo of the Calabar Festival at Studio Tinapa by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, â€œin the course of its phenomenal growth and emergence as Nigeriaâ€™s strongest tourism bran
d, the festival has acquired a character and popularity that has made it necessary to give it a distinct identity.â€
Imoke, who acknowledged the presence of Mr. Donald Duke, the immediate past governor of the state and referred to him as â€œthe creator of the festivalâ€, noted that it features 32 days of exciting events, colourful activities and ever-increasing participation by a huge global population in December every year, adding that since its inception in the turn of the millennium, it has grown in leaps and bounds, content, scope and scale.
The governor disclosed that the expansion had informed the decision to rebrand the festival with a new title and a new logo which reflects the celebration of culture, music, dance and drama that characterize the festival, emphasizing that it has become imperative to present it as a product that resonates with the public in its social, economic, environmental and cultural significance, thus consolidating its essence.
He reasoned that the occasion was not just the unveiling of the new identity of the festival but also a reappraisal of the vast opportunities for institutional and corporate marketing and sponsorships, explaining that it was also a chance to explore the obvious mutual benefits and marketing potential which have remained untapped.
â€œTo this end, we have held a forum with prospective sponsors, where these opportunities have been clearly heightened â€œhe said, adding that as a result of the rebranding process and this consultative approach, the Calabar festival would be seen as a product that can be utilised for brand projection, ensure high visibility to an unlimited global audience and create real sponsorship value, whilst discharging a social responsibility by fosteringÂ robust economic activity for the people as the festival is the quintessential vehicle for driving mutually beneficial partnerships.
He hoped the rebranded Calabar Festival would continue to elicit strongest interest, support and commitment to using it as an effective tool for the growth of organizations.
Mr. Sanusi Lamibdo Sanusi, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, who performed the unveiling of the Calabar Festival Logo, expressed his happiness to be associated with the tourism programme of the State because as a Desk Officer with UBA, he approved the first loan for the building of tourism in the state while the second loan for the same purpose was also approved by him when he was the Desk Officer at First Bank.
Sanusi, who participated in the 2008 Festival, promised to participate in this yearâ€™s edition with his family because of his love for the state and its people as he described Calabar as one place to be in December.
Mrs. Sola David-Borha of IBTC, in a testimony of an existing sponsor, said they participated in last yearâ€™s City Walk on HIV/AIDS and was delighted to be associated and identified with the large crowd which turned out for the show,Â adding that the street lighting programme coupled with Christmas Tree, the National Flag,Â and the fireworks was colourful and exciting because it was a record-breaking event.
David-Borha remarked that Cross River is one of the most enlightened states in the federation that has raised the bar in tourism which her company is proud to identify with, suggesting that there should be a post-Carnival implementation programme for business and networking for all stakeholders to get greater value.
High points of the celebration included the singing of the state’s song and national anthem by the Hope Waddle Society of Music, musical performance by Nigeriaâ€™s Hip Hop artiste, Weird MC, live performance ofÂ the Festival Theme Song by Cross River All Stars made of Feladel, Blacky, Sammy Okposu, Sunny Neji and KC Presh, unveiling musical drama performance by Minds of Creation made up of members of the five bands and a brief on the logo by Emeka Okafor while Mr. Michael Williams, board member, Nothinghill Carnival, handled the call to sponsorship.
Dignitaries at the occasion included Mrs. Obioma Imoke wife of the State Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham Deputy Governor and wife Glory, Past and Serving members of National and State Assemblies, Local government Chairmen, Members of the State Executive Council, Service Chiefs, diplomatic Corps, Artiste, Corporate organizations Business men and traditional rulers.