By Jimoh babatunde with agency reports
The organisers of the annual Abuja Carnival are out again to galvanise the Nigerian public to support the festival as they said they are employing new strategies to make it all the more fun and exciting for tourists who have expressed skepticism.
This year’s event has been slated for Saturday, November 26 to Tuesday, November 29, 2011 and has been tagged Carnival Of Reconciliation.
According to the head of the committee and Artistic Director, Professor Ojo Bakare, this would serve as a platform to reconcile various interest groups that are consequential to the survival and sustainability of the project.
Bakare said the carnival is expected to play the role of a unifying agent, where every state and political interest group would dovetail into one, regardless of the fact that various political groups that emerged during the last general elections may have affected the unity and oneness of the country.
“The most visible is political reconciliation. As a national carnival, the organizers cannot afford to be involved in partisan politics or work according to the dictate of certain political ideologies. The Carnival would be used as a platform to reconcile divergent political opinions because we need peace and unity to move ahead as a nation.”
To ensure an outing devoid of negative criticisms, the committee stressed that it has spent time collating views from relevant stakeholders including the media, the general public, politicians, youths as well as experts in the field. “This time, we would try to package a carnival that every group would identify with.
“After six experimental editions, we will be hosting a contemporary Carnival that reflects what is obtainable in other parts of the world. This however does not imply that the artistic content would be devoid of cultural elements but according to him, about 70 per cent of the packaging would be contemporary while the remaining 30 per cent will project the cultural potentials of the people of Nigeria.”
The four-day festival will include durbar, boat regatta, command performance, opening and closing street carnival, cultural night, traditional cuisine/bush bar and masquerade fiesta. Others include Miss Abuja beauty pageant, Contemporary Music Fiesta, as well as Youth and Children’s programme.
Some stakeholders in the culture and tourism industry are already expressing reservation on the ability of the committee to deliver on the promise to organize a successful carnival based on the antecedent of those in the committee.
One of the participants from Benue state said lots of factors have been militating the successful hosting of the carnival because those who are involved in the organisation have not been honest with the country.
He said the Minster of Tourism, Edem Duke, being from Cross River state where the annual Calabar festival has been successful should ask questions from the Abuja Carnival committee on why they have not been able to translate the carnival into revenue earner since 2005.
He disclosed that things have been done the same way year in year out without success as most of the members of the committee are interested in what come to them at the end of the event and not the number of tourists they can generate.
“ There is a lady who has been in that committee from the onset to date and the various contracts and supplies are rotated among the members. The minister should ask who supplied the faulty sound system last yer.”
Chief Mike Amachree, a seasoned tourism practitioner, earlier in the year told journalists that any tourism event that does not generate money or revenue should be forgotten as tourism means money.
According to him, “For the last three editions of the Abuja Carnival, what you see are not foreign or domestic tourists, but organizers and those sponsored by the respective state governments to the events.”
Chief Amachree said if Nigerians can not pay to see the annual Abuja Carnival not to talk of foreigners, then it is not worth wasting government money on.”
He added then that organizing the carnival yearly without developing the various tourist attractions in the country as well as infrastructure is a waste of public fund.
He said infrastructure in the country is down and that most of the tourist attractions are begging for attention, yet, the government will continue to waste money on Abuja carnival that has failed to attract tourists.
Balarabe Joyce said the factors that militated against the 2010 Jubilee Carnival were poor awareness campaign and mobilization.