Before now, a simple online search for the Carnival Calabar Festival will pop up the beautiful array of colors and beaded waists of maidens adorning the regaled and lightened streets of the ancient city of Calabar. But since the past 48 hours, all that has changed. A search for the same festival anywhere now returns the gory images and videos of the tragedy that took several lives and left scores injured at the Calabar Bikers Carnival.
But what made it even more intriguing was watching our governor, Senator Ben Ayade, on the Holiday Channel on DSTV, telling Hit FM’s Uke Ugah-Duke, in an interview that he has improved on and revolutionized the carnival template that he met on the ground since inception and improved on the kinetics. Whatever that means, is really not clear to me.
The truth of the matter is that the Festival as a tourism flagship product and a burgeoning brand has suffered the most disreputation under the dispensation of Governor Ayade. Apart from the loss of almost all the revenue the festival was earning due to poor planning and insecurity in the State Capital, the festival has generally lost its appeal and global rating it hitherto commanded. The removal of the children’s carnival and several other components of the festival and replacing them with Bikers and Exotic Cars Carnival and Miss Africa beauty pageantry and the likes did not add any tangible value to the street party and has only taken more money from the coffers of the State.
Conversely, the Bikers Carnival, a new addition by Governor Ayade, has become the albatross of the festival. Not because it is a bad idea, but because of poor or lack of planning. Everything is done ad hoc. Whether they agree or not, the cause of the many deaths at the bikers’ carnival was a function of poor planning and negligence. While many are blaming security agents for compromising during the carnival, a security source reminded me this morning that:
“While we try to apportion blame to security personnel, we should as a matter of fact understand that Police and other security personnel are not employees of the State government. Secondly, understanding their schedules will give us an insight that the carnival activity is a State government function and as such an ad hoc duty to security personnel(s) posted and working in this State.
“I sincerely sympathize with the families of the victims whose only crime was to seek fun from an event that lacked “Proper Planning”
“Ordinarily and over the years, meetings are held in respect of the international carnival for a duration of about four(4) months, in these meetings, security outfits are asked and expected to draw an operational plan, search and identify gray and flash points, set up operational plans to neutralize and avert all forms of threats capable of disrupting the events as well as the protection of the State citizens and visitors, share schedules that “must” compliment each others’ roles, brief and debrief the Chief Executive Officer of the State as well as the event organizers.
“In the carnival events I know, security operatives are dispatched as early as 6 am. Their presence at that early hour helps in both traffic and crowd control. The consistent traffic hurdles are enough to disorganize everyone’s plan of movement within the affected areas.
“SoAe security men are seen in Calabar carnival outfits, which clearly shows that the events have started. Access tags are distributed and sold a week to the events as well as security scrutinization of our visitors.
“All of this planning needs funding and logistics. As a matter of fact, each security outfit makes deployment including their medical experts and their vehicles, and where it is estimated that the event will host more crowd, security operatives are deployed from other nearby States to complement the host State security operatives, knowing too well that regardless of the events, other critical government infrastructures, lives and property must be on thorough checks and protection.
“All of the above mentioned wasn’t put in place, which is a direct function of the State government. Indeed, the poor turnout of the event aside, the sad incident was a result of “poor planning.”
This is just for the security component of the carnival. There are several other aspects that even suffered worse planning and neglect. So you can imagine how I felt when I watched the Governor telling Uke Ugah-Duke how he had improved on the standard and template of the carnival he met on the ground. The only thing that crept into my mind was the memory of what our Health Science teacher told us about a mental health condition called Histrionic Personality Disorder, HPD.
The word “histrionic” means “dramatic or theatrical.” Impliedly, therefore, Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), is a mental health condition marked by intense theatrical and dramatic emotions and a distorted self-image that fuels a constant desire to continue to praise oneself.
Then I concluded after ruminating on the matter that the remaining 151 days in office for Governor Ayade may indeed be the most hectic and herculean. But they are also the most critical for him. Those close to him must manage him as closely as they can and guide him properly into a retirement that will still allow him to have a good rest and see a medical professional that will help return him to reality. Leading him unto another chaotic illusion is clearly a procession to Golgotha.