The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, on Sunday said 15 countries within and outside Africa have booked places in this year’s Calabar Carnival.
Mr. Ayade also assured the world that the state was ready for the festival and would offer a rare hospitality to all who would attend the annual street party.
The governor, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES through his Special Adviser on Security, Jude Ndaji, noted that proactive measures had been taken to ensure a hitch-free celebration.
The Calabar Festival, said to be the biggest street party on the continent, kicked off on November 30 with carnival dry runs, decoration of streets and opening of the festival village.
The festival was created as part of the vision of making Cross River State, the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and tourists all over the world.
The carnival, which will last till December 31, has boosted the cultural rich of Nigeria, while entertaining millions from within and outside the country.
“The state is ready for the carnival. We have adopted different approaches to ensure this year’s celebration is better than all the other carnivals we hosted.
“At this time last year, we were not facing the kind of security challenges we are having today. And so, we have adopted security measures to deal with the situation and we are sure of a hitch-free celebration.
“As we speak, all the security agencies in the state are on high alert and all the arrangements for the carnival have been concluded.
“Usually, a few embassies in the past indicated interest in the programme but this time around, 15 countries are coming and we are ready to host them and other visitors to our state,” he said.
Currently, he said, a new band has been created with Mr. Ayade as the head, bringing the number of bands to six.
He noted that the new band was made up of celebrities, stars and professionals who would add a new touch to the carnival.