Cross River Government has invited all the presidential candidates of the political parties for the 2019 general elections to take a week-long vacation from campaigns and participate in the 2018 Calabar Carnival.
Cross River Governor, Ben Ayade, extended the invitation to the presidential candidates on Sunday, while flagging off the third and last dry-run of the carnival with the titled: “Africanism’’.
Ayade, represented by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, noted that the event scheduled for December 28, had no political or religious undertone.
He said: “This is the final dry-run and the event is looking as if today is the grand finale. This shows that our first and second dry run was successful.
“I want to use this opportunity, on behalf of the state governor, to invite all the presidential candidates of various political parties to come for this year’s carnival.
“We want them to take off one week rest from their campaigns and come to enjoy themselves. Carnival Calabar does not know any political party or religion.
“When you come to Calabar for the carnival, you are as free as air.
“I will like to invite them to come here and relax and as the people see them, maybe those who are able to dance better may attract more votes.
“So, we want to see the candidates who can come here and rock it better in such a way that some people may be encouraged to vote for them.’’
Earlier, the Chairman of the Calabar Carnival Commission, Gabe Onah, said that the event had become the melting pot of Africa’s hospitality.
Onah said that the `wonders on wheels’ had earlier had their dry-run where over 200 bikers participated.
He said that the state had sustained the hosting of the largest street party in Africa for a record of 14 years.
The chairman said the event had promoted the talents of budding artistes and had equally united the people of Cross River and Nigeria at large.
He said that the five competing carnival bands and others were designed to tell the African story from the African perspective.
He commended DSTV and MTN Nigeria for their partnership with and support for the carnival over the years.
The President of Federation of Tourism Association, Alhaji Sabo Saleh, said that the association was in the state to understudy the event with a view to finding areas of partnership and support.
Saleh said that tourism played an important role in the economy of any nation or state.
According to him, the association under his leadership will continue to support Calabar carnival because Cross River had placed Nigeria’s tourism on the world map.
He said: “This is one of the biggest events that are coming out of Africa and it is sponsored by the Cross River Government.
“They are doing this to support the local people because tourism is multi-faceted and this helps the local economy to grow.’’