By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has said that the new additions to this year’s edition of the Carnival Calabar and Festivals are such that will leave tourists awed.
Mr. Ayade stated this, Tuesday while inspecting the route for the proposed ‘Formula K;’ a new addition to the festival calendar which will see motorists speed through marked streets in Calabar, the Cross River State capital in what the Governor described as the first formula one in Africa.
Accompanied by a German and Irish team that will participate in the race, Mr. Ayade said that: These team of young Germans you see here. They are adventurists, they love pleasure. Their own enjoyment is something that stands a risk of death. When you see the speed when formula K starts, your heart will be in your mouth.
“I have seen them perform in Germany and I said nooo you must come to Calabar and do this. This is the first formula one in Africa, and we have called it Formula K because it is not exactly formula one.
“But, what you are going to see will amaze you. And, I am also an expert and I don’t know whether I am going to survive it; but I am going to be there with my wife and we are going to do 200 kilometers per hour on this street. That is the speed that we are going to take.”
He joked that the speed had made the drivers sign their death warrants and said: “So all of them have signed their death warrants and I am sure including my Irish friend, he is also going to be riding in one of the cars.”
The Governor maintained that the event will be a big competition and pointed out that there were safety measures being put in place despite the competitive nature of the competition despite the fact, the Europeans did not care.
“The good news is that as an African, I don’t like to die. But you know they don’t care,” Ayade said, adding that: “This is going to be a very big competition and we have my own outriders who are also joining us.
“The whole world will be watching as we take off from Mary Slessor and hitting Effio-Ette up to MCC. Whoever arrives first, wins the award. It is going to be a very tough competition and the whole thing will be watched by the entire world. CNN is covering the Carnival for the first time this year. And so CNN is excited about watching this Formula K and we look forward to it.”
He continued: “Ordinarily where we have seen this practice, there is supposed to be rubber barriers on both sides but because we don’t have the luxury of time to provide that, we may also have to moderate our speed a little.
“But of course, it has a system for automatic stop. So in the event that somebody is going out of gear, it can quickly switch on the automatic stop. That is there, the helmet, the crash helmet, all the safety gadgets shall fully be kitted in readiness for the adventure and what is life without adventure? That is the beauty.”
This comes two years after the state failed to host the exotic car carnival which was billed for December 26, 2015 as one of the new additions and Mr. Ayade said that he keeps bringing in new events to make the festival more exciting.
“I am just going to pump your adrenaline more. Every year, the Carnival gets more exotic and more exciting, more calisthetic, more kinematic, more viscous, more kinetic, everything that you need to give you the new aroma of what Ayade represents; energy, intellect, capacity, humility and everything you need, we are going to have it in this year’s Carnival,” Ayade said and disclosed some of the interesting moments for the festival.
“The package itself is full of adventure this time. We have the Calas Vegas beach resort where we are going to have a beach party so we are going to go across the river; another enticing, risky and exciting challenge there for you.
“The Carnival this year is a new appetizer. It is like never before. It is a complete departure from what we have always had. This year is something else. This year is very special because this year, for them (German and Irish drivers) to come here to inspect the road, why are they here just to inspect the quality of the road, the thickness, the slope to ensure that it fits the international standard for formula one.
“And they are experts, that is why they are here. You can see that Cross River is really prepared and we are edging the Carnival and gradually, we will soon Africanize, Europeanize, Americanize and completely change the new blend of Carnival where it will be a mixture of Africa and American structure.
“So when you have the Calabar blend of Carnival, it will be a completely different Carnival from the Brazilian or the Rio Carnival. That is what you expect,” he said and commended them for being “ready to take risk to make sure that we entertain Africa.”
The leader of the German team, Josef Bohen who is an engineer at DNS technologies, a company which installed solar powered internet controlled street lights at the Rice city in April said Mr. Ayade had visited him in Germany and both went to a racing center where Michael Schumacher had raced and he immediately said it will be replicated in Calabar.
“The Governor saw this, he drives this, he loves this, very quickly with speed power and he said Carnival in Calabar is the biggest from Africa and he wants this event for Calabar. He said it and he (has) done it. Now we are here, we have six cars in Abuja, on the airport. The two types are here and we came to see racing area in Calabar for the carnival.
“Now we have tested it, it is very good like German style and we are glad to be here in Calabar,” Bohen said and commended the hospitality in the state as well as it’s temperate nature.
“Calabar (is) a nice city. I was sometimes in Rio in Brazil, the carnival, I think this is better because this time (in) Germany we have snow, we have also Carnival that is cold and we cannot laugh, but here, you can laugh; beautiful carol, beautiful action. All is clean, when I (go) home to Germany, I can say, Calabar is safe,” Bohen said dismissing insinuations that Africa is unsafe.
Also, Joachim Bloew who joined in the inspection said that: “We are here to bring German technology to Nigeria to Calabar, to Cross River State and we got for you, four stroke engines go-kart tuned up to 1,800 horsepower. You get about 140, 160 kilometers per hour. In this racing world, this is gonna be really mad. It is going to be really funny and there is no more word to say like fantastic.
“Our mission is his vision. We are looking out for friendship in Carnival and fun,” he said and added that the length of the road is okay.