The 2021 Carnival Calabar has been suspended following the outbreak of the high-risk COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Carnival Calabar popularly known as Africa’s Biggest Street Party is a global event, which brings together millions of fun-loving people from all over the world to converge on Calabar for several days in the month of December annually.
This makes it the second time in a row that Governor Benedict Ayade would be suspending Carnival Calabar due to the high-risk COVID-19.
After hours of intense and engaging deliberations with tourism stakeholders, legislators, council chairmen and members of the state executive council at the Governor’s Office Calabar, Professor Ayade made a final pronunciation to suspend carnival.
“Let me, therefore, officially announce that the Carnival Calabar for 2021 is suspended on condition that if we have reasons to believe to the contrary that this particular variant is mild, not deadly, we would go ahead with the carnival,” he announced.
According to him, he would not as a governor and leader compromise the lives and safety of the citizens for the fleeting excitement of the carnival.
“If everything goes right, we all get applause. But, is anything goes bad, Governor Ayade would receive the blame because I would be expected to know as a professor (of science), as a governor,” he stated.
The governor urged stakeholders to go ahead with preparations for other mini cultural events, which would be held at different locations across Calabar metropolis to provide tourists, visitors and fun-seekers with colourful displays this December.
“So, it is suspended. Suspended is different from postponed. Since it is suspended, we can hold the carnival at any time. So, please renovate your hotels, bars and other centres. I must tell you that this December Calabar would be full anyway. I have seen the bookings in the airlines, no airline has space to Calabar.
“There would be enough crowds, but we do not want Calabar to be dull. To achieve this I still think that the Carnival Commission and the band leaders should have another meeting to create fun events that would entertain the people,” he charged.
In a recent interview granted to the News Agency of Nigeria, the Cross River Commissioner for Tourism and Culture, Eric Anderson said that 2021 edition would be restricted to the U. J. Esuene stadium due to COVID.
Anderson had also stated that carnival revellers would not parade the 12-kilometre route as was held in previous years, hinting “The governor will unveil the theme on Monday, November 29.”
Carnival Calabar started in 2004 under the administration of Governor Donald Duke and was expanded in 2007 by his successor, Senator Liyel Imoke to include Children’s Carnival, Bikers’ parade, Miss Carnival and Cultural parade.
By 2015 when Governor Ayade assumed office, he made additions to the carnival such as Exotic cars parade, Miss Africa and the Carnival Calabar International Festival, which attracts the participation of more than 30 countries from across Africa, Asia, South America, the Caribbean and Europe.
The last carnival was held in 2019, while that of 2020 was set aside due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and this year, the recent occurrence of a new variant of the virus, which has just been declared ‘High Risk’ by the World Health Organisation, W.H.O. was the main reason for suspending the 2021 Carnival Calabar.