Governor Ayade’s bike riders stormed Calabar Carnival
Over 500 power-bike riders, led by Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and one of his predecessors, Donald Duke, stormed Calabar, the state capital during the just concluded one month annual festival, popularly known as Calabar Carnival. Duke initiated the carnival over 12 years ago. The action of the bikers had sent fear and excitement into the hearts of visitors, onlookers, holidaymakers and residents.
Early last year, the governor had announced that he would introduce innovations to the carnival, often dubbed the biggest street party in West Africa. Such innovations include the introduction of actual partying and dancing to the rhythm of the latest music blaring from powerful loudspeakers (the state government imported hundreds of them and mounted them at all the major roads where the carnival train usually passes), as well as power-bike display, with the theme, Climate Change, deliberately coined to illustrate the importance the state government attaches to it.
The chairman of the State Carnival Commission, Gab Onah, confirmed that the 500 bike riders were invited from different associations to display and entertain spectators during the event.
It was observed that former Governor Duke graced the carnival on his power-bike, said to have been specifically made for him in a foreign firm. Seen from a distance, the black machine looked like a large animal, and its sound was that of thunder. Duke, who is known to have a high sense of fashion, was dressed in customised bikers’ uniform. With her special appearance, his wife, Onari, who sat behind her husband, also drew a lot of attention from carnival enthusiasts.
Alongside Governor Ayade and his wife, Linda, the former governor, who is famously called Don by residents, rode round the major roads in style on their unique power-bikes, drawing much attention and applause as they demonstrated.
Stylish and very dangerous acrobatic display by the bikers forced spectators to scamper for safety. However, one of the bikers was not lucky as he missed his step while trying to pull a stunt on motion. The machine dragged him round until help came his way. He, however, sustained injuries and was taken away from the venue of the event.
Our correspondent gathered that most of the bikes were not supplied by the state government. Some of them were hired by the riders while few others brought theirs. Also, many of the riders came outside the state. It was not certain if they fueled their machines; however, upon clearance, they were assured of government support. Other participating groups, bands and individuals were also assured of support.
Governor Ayade said the power-bike riders were not only invited to add colour and value to the carnival, as well as further arouse the interest of fun seekers and tourists, their presence was also expected to boost the economy of the state. According to him, the presence of bikers’ associations in and outside the country, and several foreign cultural troops from Korea, Russia, China, Korea, Croatia, Turkey, Brazil, etc at the 12th edition of the carnival, illustrated the acceptance, popularity and willingness by partners to invest in the state.
Speaking at the popular Millennium Park, near the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar, Ayade said the carnival had attracted endorsement from investors such as the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Dangote Group, Lafarge Africa, etc, which are capable of turning around the economic fortune of the state. He promised that his administration would continue to introduce new ideas to make the annual event more attractive. The governor further said the carnival had also provided useful income for residents, including traders, hoteliers, transporters, printers.
The commissioner for information, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, disclosed that the carnival attracted good revenue to the state. She said that as a result of the carnival, the number of hotel rooms in Calabar increased from 2600 to 8000 within five years.
“The state makes much money during the carnival. Our internally generated revenue increases in triple fold. Also, families, taxi drivers, hoteliers and residents make fortunes as the Carnival Village booms on a daily basis. Many families use the profits they made during the carnival to send their children back to school in January,” Mrs. Archibong said.