By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent Follow @NaijaJonathan
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has said that the state intends to make its flagship tourism event, Carnival Calabar the best in the world.
Mr. Ayade who said his administration has taken the Carnival Calabar from 15th to the second position in the world disclosing on Monday while addressing journalists shortly after his arrival from Abuja where he explained the reason why he stayed back in the country and sent a team to the 2018 edition of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
“I am sure from the preliminary reports that we have got, the 2018 carnival will also be a celebration of our 2019 success in advance in our elections because indeed we are going to put in our very very very best to ensure that we come the first position.
“So we moved from fifteen position to second position. Now, we are eking towards being the number one position event in the entire world, that is our target for 2018,” Ayade said.
The governor said there was need to ensure a broader understanding of how carnivals are organized and with the Brazilian carnival rated number one, it was necessary to understand and understudy it.
Mr. Ayade was expected to lead the delegation to Rio but stayed back. And, explaining this, he averred that: “I stepped back because I needed to send a team that will not work on the basis of governors presence and all the reports that have come in so far; preliminary reports; the proper reports will be presented to me on Thursday; it will form the basis for how the 2018 carnival will look like.”
He expressed optimism that the lessons learnt will make the 2018 edition of the Carnival Calabar better as according to him: “We have the capacity to even exceed the expectations of the world.”
The 2017 edition of the carnival witnessed a record breaking turnout of both revellers and fun seekers with CrossRiverWatch reporting that the organization was poor.
But, Mr. Ayade said that the state will use the crowd to its advantage as there was a fundamental issue with the perception of those watching the event which will be addressed.
“We also realize that we have a very natural and organic crowd which comes naturally. But essentially speaking, the tradition in Brazil from the preliminary reports I have got is that the rich people that come out to entertain the poor so to say.
“In Cross River State and indeed Nigeria, the converse is the case in the sense that; here, it is still an air of carnival is for the youths witty people coming to play while the rich sit back at the governors booth and the rest to watch.
“That trend has to change, the storyline has to change.
“Another essential point that has to change; people can’t travel from other points of the country, from other parts of Africa to come and sit down for eight hours; people come with the intention of to participate in the carnival so we must change the rhythm, the excitement, the content, the character and all the entire characteristics to ensure that every visitor that comes into Calabar for the carnival must be participating in one band or one activity or the other.
“The whole idea is to come and take place, participate and have pleasure, to enjoy and not to sit in a bench for eight hours.
“So I am now reconfiguring, reconstructing and changing the narrative to present a theme that will allow everybody to be part of the carnival.
“So, when you say it is the biggest street party it will indeed be the biggest street party because whether you are from Casablanca or you are from Congo, once you are in Calabar for the carnival, there is a provision for you to be in the carnival party; to be able to dance, to join one of the bands and participate with it; that is the intention and that is part of what we have picked from the Brazil visit,” Ayade said.
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