Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has described the annual Calabar carnival as the melting pot of Africa’s hospitality.
Ayade said this on Wednesday in Calabar while opening the grand finale of the 2016 Calabar carnival.
He said that the carnival, which had gained international recognition over the years had continue to grow bigger, better and bolder.
According to him, the carnival represents the true vitality, unity and harmony that signify the growth of Africa.
“The flag off of the grand finale of the 2016 Calabar carnival represents the true beginning of African enjoyment.
“As we have started today, this is the beginning of a new dawn in Africa. Calabar carnival remains the largest street party in Africa.
“As a government, we will continue to promote and sustain the hospitality and tourism that the state is known for,’’ he said.
The theme for the 2016 Calabar carnival is `Climate Change’.
The five carnival bands – Seagull, Master Blasta, Passion 4, Freedom and Bayside were colourfully dressed in different costumes to reflect the colour of their bands.
Mr Gab Onah, the Chairman of Calabar Carnival Commission, said that 13 countries were in attendance for the street party.
According to Onah, some of the countries included Brazil, Croatia, Turkey, UK, Spain, Kenya, Ghana and others.
He said that the carnival, the 12th edition in a row had united the state and Nigeria in general.
“We have in Cross River today 13 countries worldwide. The attention of the world is in Cross River today.
“We are going to hit the street today with different dance steps and different displays.
“Today is the grand finale of the 2016 Calabar carnival, the largest street party ever; the greatest show in Africa,’’ he said.
Neurite Mendes, Miss Africa, who was in attendance, said that the carnival had gone beyond borders due to its sustained organisation by the state government.
“It is an honour to come from my country Angola to represent the African beauty in the carnival.
“The theme of the carnival is climate change. We need to let the world know that together we can combat the effect of climate change.
“This carnival is definitely bigger and better; I am happy to be in attendance at the grand finale of the 2016 Calabar carnival,’’ she said.
Dignitaries at the event include, Mr Donald Duke, former Cross River governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom, Nollywood actors and actresses, captain of industries, among others.
There was heavy presence of security personnel including the Police, Army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Immigration and others.