For the first time since 2004, Africa’s biggest street party, the Calabar Carnival, will not take place this December, www.calitown.com can authoritatively reveal.
Eric Anderson, Cross River State Commissioner for Tourism and Culture who made this disclosure as “The Public View” guest on HIT 95.9 FM, Calabar, said that because of the large crowd of people normally drawn to the event and the fact too that the state government cannot, with this crowd, enforce strict COVID – 19 protocols, it had become necessary to suspend the event this year.
While this disclosure appears to surprise many, last month’s adopted resolution of the CRS House of Assembly calling on the state government to suspend the event until damaged critical infrastructure from the #EndSars protest is restored, was a kite flown early. Peter Odey, Leader of the House who brought forth the motion, told www.calitown.com when contacted that even the Rio Carnival in Brazil and the Notting Hill Carnival in the UK, critical as they are, were cancelled this year because of COVID-19 pandemic. He wondered why anybody will insist that the Calabar Carnival should go ahead with no let off in COVID – 19 infections globally.
Odey was however faulted when he insisted that money meant for the 2020 carnival should be used in replacing or repairing infrastructure destroyed during the #EndSars protest. One school of thought believes that while the Ayade administration has consistently recorded low marks in financial transparency, it cannot be trusted with the repair of this infrastructure. “You people want Ayade and his people to use money budgeted for the 2020 carnival for whatever repairs, have you asked them to pay vendors owed different sums of money from the 2019 carnival? Let that payment be done before any other thing please.”
The vendors and several carnival support persons we gather, are owed a backlog of payments for services rendered. While these category of persons have made appeals and even peacefully demonstrated on this issue, government has not responded and the wait, on their part, is still in the air or may have gone up in smoke.
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