By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
Cross River governor, Benedict Ayade, has unveiled the 2016 Carnival Calabar theme with the view to ensure adequate preparations just as he revealed plans to host what he called the maiden African love festival.
Ayade retained “Climate Change” as the theme which makes it the first time in the event’s 11 years history that a theme is retained and revealed almost a year to the Carnival.
In a dinner organized in honor of sponsors of the 2015 edition, Ayade stated that there was need to lay emphasis on the issues of climate change even as he hoped next year’s edition will see a proper interpretation of the theme since there was little time to do so this year.
Arguing that “the carnival presents our people the opportunity to be happy even in the challenges of the year”, he said the carnival has gone global with millions watching it live via over 30 channels across the world and stressed the need why the business connection to the carnival must not be ignored to ensure the state benefits.
“As you know it is not a Calabar carnival, it is not a Nigerian carnival, it is indeed not an African carnival, it is a world carnival. Let us focus on this to ensure that we broaden the horizon of opportunities that will come and Cross River State will be better off for it.
“As a businessman, my own idea of play is that there is a business connection to it, so for me the carnival must also bring business. The World Bank has set aside 16 billion dollars to support climate change, the United Nations is setting aside 100 billion dollars annually to support climate change and therefore I think the right thing for us to do is to sustain that mantra and so the 2016 theme is climate change.” He said.
He lauded Cross Riverians for ensuring the perception about their gentle and hospitable nature was kept intact amidst security concerns across the country and some technical hitches which would have invited mayhem in other places.
On the new festival, Ayade averred that “the first African love festival will be taking place on the 14th of February and it shall indeed be declared a public holiday. It will be the first time that we will go into the Guinness book of records for hosting and providing dining and support services in an open stadium where over three thousand couples will be sitting and dining at the same time.
“It is definitely a project that every investor will want to sponsor; it is a project that is bringing a class of people who have deep pockets, who have the capacity to spend. Cross River State must be reconstructed within the ambits of development and focus on changing the kinetics and the functions of the black man.”
In a philosophical manner, he disagreed on the position of some critique about the African continent, opining that despite the damning perceptions of old and forecasts “Africa has a hope, and that hope and aspiration comes from Nigeria, and Cross River State must be the epicenter of that hope with the most civilized people.”
Former Culture and Tourism minister, High Chief Edem Duke on his part, averred that Cross River having been identified as one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world must guard such an asset jealously, as its sustenance would boost the economy even as he hoped that with the support of the various stakeholders, the 2016 Carnival Calabar would be the only carnival in the world that would be promoted on the platform of environmental preservation.
“The carnival is an economy, it has its value chain, the environment and climate is the jewel in that crown, therefore we must join hands with various stakeholders and the world to continuously articulate the benefits and values of addressing the critical attention that the world needs to pay to climate change.” He said.
Other stakeholders who spoke including Princess Florence Ita-Giwa, reaffirmed their support and determination to making the subsequent carnival bigger and better.
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