By Benjamin Njoku
If you are a beauty queen, and you have the energy to rock on the streets, then you need not worry any more as Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has offered to put smiles in your face this season.
The governor, at a glamorous unveiling of the 2015 edition of Carnival Calabar theme tagged ‘Climate Change’, which took place last Sunday, at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, surprisingly announced enlisting beauty queens as members of a new band called the Governor’s Band. “Irrespective of their states of origin, they represent the beauty, elegance, style and class of the average Cross River youth,” said the governor.
According to Ayade, the beauty queens also represent the signature band, they have been looking forward to seeing since the inception of the carnival. While inviting all the beauty queens on stage, the governor declared, “ I will add value to their beauty and help them to realize their full potentials,” He revealed plans to commission the first of its kind runway in Nigeria.
The event had dignitaries from the Corporate Nigeria, the United States Embassy in Nigeria, actors, actresses and music stars in attendance.
Marketing what has come to be known as the tourism destination in Nigeria, Ayade revealed that Carnival bands from 14 countries will be performing this year, while the notable children Carnival has also been repackaged to take the form of family funfair.
Speaking further, Ayade said,the carnival can only get better with additional activities and restyling of the old ones, revealing that Bikers Day and Disco fiesta are part of the new offerings this year. He also announced plans to set up ‘the biggest garment factory’ in Nigeria on December 15, adding that the establishment of the factory would reduce the money being spent by the state government to import various costumes for the festival and also, create employment opportunities for many citizens.
The governor assured of security, praising the State as having the lowest crime rate in Nigeria. “Our people are emotional stable and content with what they have. However, s full team of security will be mobilized for the festival,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa, Chairman, Calabar Carnival Bands Association and leader of the Seagull Band, commended the efforts of the past governors of the state for sustaining the carnival.
She said, like other concerned citizens, she was initially worried about the disposition of the new government in the State to the festival, but that the governor has allayed all fears. The Calabar Carnival started from the era of former Gov. Donald Duke.
When Donald was leaving, we thought that would be the end of the Carnival,” she said, adding “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 witnesses to this evening, it is obvious the Carnival can only get better.”
Mr Gab Onah, the Chairman of the Cross River State Carnival Commission revealed that this year’s carnival would attract more than 50,000 participants.
Guests at the unveiling include comic actor John Okafor, aka Mr. Ibu, sonorous singer, Waje, CEO of EbonyLife TV, Mo Abudu, Dance Hall singer, Patoranking, reggae artiste Blackie, Olu Maintain, Kcee and actors Enyinna Nwigwe and Elvis Chuks. The theme of the 2015 Calabar Carnival was unveiled opening day of the biggest travel exhibition in West Africa, Akwaaba African Travel Market.