By Emma Una & Ike Uchechukwu
GOVERNOR Ben Ayade of Cross River State has suspended the 2021 Calabar Carnival following emergence of a new variant of COVID-19, Omricon, in some countries of the world.
The governor said he took the decision after a prolonged debate among his aides, including commissioners, special advisers special assistants, speaker of the House of Assembly and council chairmen during an enlarged executive council meeting.
Announcing the suspension, Ayade cited the health concerns arising from the outbreak of COVID-19 variant, Omicron, as well as prevailing security situation in the country as reasons for the suspension.
He said he would not as a governor and leader compromise the lives and safety of the citizens of the state for the fleeting excitement of the carnival.
Ayade said: “We voted more than three times to arrive at no carnival this year in the best interest of Cross Riverians. I’m sad of course as I wanted the carnival for 2021 but the majority carried the day. Dear Cross Riverians, we need to be alive first to enjoy Christmas and carnival. The new COVID-19 variant is dangerous.”
One of the speakers and former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke, noted that it would be a mockery for a state, which Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, is the Chair of Nigerian Commissioners of Health Forum to hold carnival amidst the dangers of the new COVID-19 wave.