By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
In a scene reminiscent of Motor Grand Prix (GP), the city of Calabar, Cross River State, Sunday played host to over a thousand extreme motor bikers drawn from Nigeria, China, Canada, Australia Germany, the US, Philippines, Togo, Ghana and Benin Republic, in the maiden edition of Calabar Bikers’ Parade.
Led by the state governor, Senator Ben Ayade, in a 12 kilometer ride, the bikers performed different types of stunts to the admiration of an ecstatic crowd that lined up along the carnival route to catch a glimpse of the extreme riders.
Offering insight into the new addition to the already well packed carnival content, Governor Ayade said the concept was aimed at introducing a business angle to the annual fiesta which currently enjoys huge domestic participation.
According to him, “We need to encourage tourists that have the capacity to spend. So the bikers’ parade creates a platform for those who have the wealth to buy expensive classic bikes like the ones on parade today.”
The governor explained that the initiative was also to create a delicate and complex balance between the enthusiasm of youth and the wisdom of a 60 year old.
He rode on a red colored Trike named Taurus built by Swiss company Grueter and Gut Technik which is shortened for GG.
The trike is said to be the Ferrari of motorcycles at the moment with white gloves and red carpet delivery made for each purchase in early 2015. Each is said to cost at least USD90,000. This means at least USD180,000 was splashed on both bikes.
On the choice of his trikes, the red and the blue, Ayade said: “They were specifically chosen to reflect the glamor, elegance, royalty, while green was chosen to reflect the theme of the festival which is Climate Change.”
The festival which was flagged off by Ayade at the Millennium Park, also witnessed both male and female stunt performers with the deputy governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, John Gaul Lebo, former governor of the state, Mr. Donald Duke, among others in attendance.
The immediate past Commissioner for Information, Chief Akin Ricketts, a biker himself, described the new offering as the brainchild of Ayade geared towards creating value for the festival.
Ricketts said,” This is a new offering that has put a verve on Calabar Festival. Bikers are drawn from all over the world.” He said it would have a long lasting impression on the people.
One of Nigeria’s ace movie actors and a biker, Mr. Sam Dede, described the event as a convergence of happy people in unity and that in future it will be more popular than Carnival Calabar.
An Abuja-based biker, Gentle Giant, who said he has been preparing for the event since January, noted: “This is a new development which people have been longing for. It happens in Miami in USA,” adding that being in Calabar was a dream come true.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of souvenir to Ayade by Tinapa Bikers.
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