Gov. Otu declares 19th AKWAABA expo open, unveils 2023 Carnival Calabar theme

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By Taiye Olayemi

Gov. Bassey Otu of Cross River on Sunday declared the 19th AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market open in Lagos.

Otu commended the organiser of the travel market, Ikechi Uko, for his consistency over the years as he spoke on the need for such programmes.

“It gives me pleasure to be part of the unbroken staging and exhibition of the 19th AFRICA Travel Market event tagged AKWWABA.

“I also understand that for the second year, the medical tourism platform is being activated with a strong partnership with the Turkish group.

“This is particularly elating because for every good reason, the world needs to come together now more than ever.

“So, the 19th AKWAABA travel and tourism market is open as we all explore its benefits,” he said.

Otu hinted that the 2023 Carnival Calabar scheduled for December would have its theme as “The Season of Sweetness”.

He said the state was ready to host revellers across the globe, as a formidable team of dancers and entertainers have  been been put in place to excite visitors.

According to him, the carnival will exhibit rare colours, costumes, floats, pyrotechnics, magic, acrobatics and more through the 12 kilometre carnival route.

He said these were by no means overt expressions of the state and people’s heritage of hospitality and Africa’s warmest welcome.

“I am very pleased that we are here again to share that moment of joy that Calabar, Cross River State, offers the world as Africa’s warmest welcome.

“Carnival Calabar represents the most tangible tourism product in the calendar of events of Cross River state and in Nigeria in general.

“It was and still is a strategic plan for the actualisation of the vision of transforming Cross River State socio-economically through the instrumentality of the performing arts.

“Today, we are here to witness another theme unveiling, which stands our carnival out as an intellectual platform to entertain, educate, and inform our publics and audiences,” he said

The governor said moving forward, his administration would work on rejiging the carnival as efforts would be made on sustainability and inclusion to achieve set goals, exploring a robust public private partnership framework.

“This is to achieve mutually beneficial relations in naming rights, endorsements, sponsorships, merchandising and activations.

“It is in the realisation of these waiting opportunities that I have directed that the children’s carnival, aqua show and the exciting and colourful night of Kings and Queens to return to the carnival calendar.

“This is to create more opportunities for sponsors’ visibility.

“May I also thank the band leaders for their creativity to breathe life into the carnival themes in the past and for a job well done.

“We thank the sponsors, especially our broadcast partner, MULTICHOICE- DSTV, for a wonderful relationship through the past years,” he said.

Earlier, Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa, Leader of the Seagull Band, said the past editions of the carnival had explored topical themes like Africanism, climate change, industrialisation and more.

Ita-Giwa said individuals should desist from perceiving the carnival as mere dancing activities as it entailed telling beautiful stories that educate through dance and costumes.

She said in the processes of organising the carnival, people’s level of creativity is improved, most especially when crafted images had to be made to relay the stories.

“I am happy that we have a governor that is ready to uphold the carnival.

“Carnival Calabar has come to stay, it is not just about dancing but it is all about telling stories through our custumes and dances,” she said.

Earlier,  Uko said that no fewer than 2,500 delegates were attending the three-day AKWAABA Expo. (NAN) (

Salisu Sani-Idris

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