History was made on Monday 23rd November, 2015 when the new helmsman in cross river state flew into Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital to hold a brain storming and vision sharing session with 52 leaders of some of Nigeria’s leading organizations as well as multinationals on the need for them to engage with Cross river and partner with the government in taking optimal advantages of the opportunities his government is beginning to create in the state. He also admonished the CEO’s to invest in and become part of the Carnival Calabar coming up in a few weeks. This was the first time such an engagement session would be holding since the carnival began eleven years ago. The meeting took place at George hotel, Ikoyi.
Professor Ben Ayade held the audience captive for one and half hour as he spoke off- the -cuff, eloquently and passionately of his vision for the industrialization of cross river state and how the on-going 260 kilometer super high way and deep sea port would activate not only the economy of the state but the whole south-south zone of Nigeria.
Upon ending his speech, one after the other the CEO’s arose to pledge support for his government and also their interest in being part of the Carnival Calabar 2015.
Said Mr. Sunil Sawhney, CEO of 7Up bottling company after listening to the governor, “ Your excellency, I have never heard a Nigerian governor speak so eloquently and passionately. In fact, as you were speaking, I had to hold myself back as all I wanted to say was…come on, lets head for Calabar right now.” According to Mr. Cosmas Maduka, MD of Coscharis motors, “I believe a new dawn has come for Cross River state. And I am assuring you that you will feel our presence with full force.” Also responding to the governors clarion call was Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, he said, “We are Airtel are ready to make Calabar the hub of our activities in the south- south. We already have some investments in your state and would be looking to boost it even further. I am most delighted as you sounded like a business man more than a politician.”
Other organizations that attended the breakfast meeting include – Access Bank, Dana Motors, Skye Bank, Nigerian Breweries, Heritage bank, Zenith Bank, Coca-Cola, Lafarge, Scoa motors, Flour mills Nigeria, H. Safiedine Transport, Chellarams, Tata Africa, UBA, Wakanow amongst others
The CEO’s session, which was put together by Mary Ephraim, the managing director of Okhma global, the marketing consulting company engaged by the Cross river State government to lead the marketing drive for the carnival 2015.
During the meeting, the dashing beau made who has spent the last ten years as a thorough bred in the marketing communications industry gave a presentation stating the business case on why corporate should invest in the carnival and their return on investment. Mr. Gabe Onah, the Chairman of Cross river state carnival commission also spoke on the history of the carnival and how it has developed over the years to become Africa’s prime tourism brand.
Calabar Carnival festival in Nigeria, also tagged ” Africa’s Biggest Street Party”, was created as part of the vision of making Cross River State in Nigeria, the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and tourist all over the world. The carnival, which begins on every 1 December and last till 31 December, has boosted the cultural mosaic of Nigeria people while entertaining the millions of spectators within and outside the State, and boosting industry for all stakeholders. The 2015 edition will feature sixteen countries.
This year marks the eleventh edition of the multi event carnival that has garnered the reputation and multiple awards of Nigeria’s biggest and best-organized tourism event. The 2015 coincide with the commencement of the new administration of Governor Ben Ayade, who said, “The Carnival is a big brand not only in Nigeria. My biggest wish now is to make it even much bigger. I would like to see the Calabar carnival evoke same depth and passion as the Rio carnival in the international tourism market. We promised our people of our state economic transformation. It will gladden our hearts to have tourists visit our state and witness the good things happening here while they also take time to bask in the abundance of our offerings at the carnival. And that we will surely do.”
Ayade was accompanied to the meeting by Senators Florence Ita-Giwa and Gershom Bassey as well as Mr. Chris Agara who donated the sum of fifty million to the carnival commission as contributions towards the hosting of the carnival accompanied Governor Ben Ayade to the meeting.