It is no longer news that 2019 Carnival was the worst in terms of planning, organization and logistics. For a brand that started in 2004, one would expect massive improvement and increased brand visibility to boost both local and International patronage.
According to Wikipedia, “Calabar Carnival festival in Nigeria, also tagged ” Africa’s Biggest Street Party”, was created as part of the vision of making the Cross River State, Nigeria, the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and tourists all over the world. The carnival which begins every 1 December and lasts until 31 December has boosted the cultural mosaic of Nigeria people while entertaining millions of spectators within and outside the State, and boosting industry for all stakeholders”.
Unfortunately, last year’s carnival themed ‘Humanity’ took a downward turn in all ramifications. As I write this piece, it is sad to note that almost everybody that offered one Service or the other is still being owed by the State Government.
The unpaid ad hoc staff include,
Widows/single mothers and women who borrowed monies to cook for cultural parade groups, carnival Revelers, ushers, Marshals, non competing bands and hotels that hosted the international carnival Revelers from different countries. In addition, Honorarium to Ushers, Marshals, Protocols, Tour guides, Mass band, Carnival staff, Security, Adjudicators etc is yet to be paid.
Yesterday, I called the Chairman, Mr. Gabe Onah and the Executive Secretary, Mr Austin Cobham to find out what the problem was and Mr Austin simply replied my text with the following usual and well rehearsed rhetorics “The approval process is ongoing pls. We have assured all vendors and service providers that these indebtedness will be sorted very soon..”
While I can imagine the frustration of the Carnival Board Members, I find it very disturbing to note that the Governor, His Excellency Sir Benedict Ayade is comfortable with this show of inhumanity. The question I asked the ES was whether the vendors and service providers were going to be paid interest, especially for those who borrowed money to meet up this very pressing demand. It is terrible to imagine the impact of this COVID 19 era on their families and businesses. The theme was Humanity but this is inhumanity to the very people who sacrificed to execute the carnival.
I therefore call on the Governor to immediately release money to pay everybody that rendered services in the last Carnival as the worker deserves their wages.
@ Com Anthony Bissong Attah
Concerned Cross Riverian