Andy Esiet, Calabar
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River state yesterday flagged off the first dry run for the 2022 Carnival Calabar, marking the return of the Carnival since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.
Flagging off the event with the theme: “Agro-Industrialization”, Ayade said that the theme of the carnival was carefully chosen with a view to sending a message to the global community that Africans can depend on themselves for food.
He decried the high dependence for food by African countries on western nations in-spite of the vast arable land God has blessed the continent with, saying “Agro-Industrialization was indeed the way to go.
“Today, we have great reasons to celebrate because Cross River is gathered yet again, to invent the charm that characterizes creativity” , he said adding, “the theme for this year is agro-industrilization and indeed, agro-industrialization is the way to go. For any nation that is committed and serious, that is the way to go. The greatest insecurity is hunger. There is no insecurity more threatening to man than the insecurity of hunger.
“The war between Ukraine and Russia led to scarcity of grains, this means that by the unset of 2023, the nation will be in big trouble. Therefore, I see a harbinger of scarcity, hunger and pain, grinding people to their zenith in terms of criminality and animalism”.
The governor used to occasion to reiterate his support and commitment towards the return of power to the southern senatorial district of the state in 2023.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of Calabar Carnival Commission, Mr Austin Cobham, described the dry run as the mother of all dry runs due the additional bands in the carnival.
Cobham who congratulated Gov. Ayade for expanding the carnival bands from five to seven, which he said was creating avenue for more participation, disclosed that the presence of the service commanders in the state indicated that Cross River was ready to host the world.
He further commended the governor for the theme, saying that it could not have come at any other time than now that the world was going through a period of war and growing insecurities after being ravaged by COVID-19, noting the “the only way that the world would survive has actually proven to be agro-indistrialization,”.
There were more than 4,000 revelers on the 12 kilometre routes, which attracted hundreds of spectators and the seven competing bands are; Seagull, Passion 4, Masta Blasta, Bayside, Freedom, Diamond, and Calas Vegas.
In attendance at the flag off were lawmakers from the Cross River House of Assembly, a former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke, Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa amongst others.