From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River has suspended the 2021 Calabar Carnival due to the outbreak of COVID-19 variant.
This is the second time the annual street party has been suspended.
Introduced by former governor, Donald Duke, to boost tourism potential of the state, it was first suspended in 2020 following the outbreak of the pandemic and this year again due to another new variant form of the pandemic.
Announcing the suspension at the state executive council chamber in Calabar, yesterday, Ayade cited the health concerns arising from the outbreak of COVID-19 variant, Omicron, as well as prevailing security situation as reasons for the suspension.
He said he would not, as a governor and leader, compromise the lives and safety of the citizens for the fleeting excitement of the carnival.
Before announcing the suspension, Ayade had subjected the decision to popular votes, following which majority of the stakeholders voted for its suspension.
However, investigations by Daily Sun revealed the government seemed not prepared for the festival as there were no usual pre-activities such as unveiling of the theme, marketing it to the outside world through media campaigns, organising of dry runs that runs through to December and rehearsals by revellers of different bands and other minor programmes signalling readiness for the event.
Sources close to government house disclosed the poor financial standing of the state may have been one of the reasons stakeholders agreed to suspend the party.