Dr Gabe Onah, Chairman, Carnival Calabar Commission on Saturday said over 40,000 direct employment had been generated since the inception of the carnival in 2004.

Onah, who disclosed this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar, said the employment was a significant contributions to the creative industry.

He said the commission inherited 5,000 direct employment within the creative industry space, but could now boast of over 40,000 through the carnival.

According to him, these employment opportunities encompass various roles within the carnival, such as make-up artists, artisans, and others involved in organising and running the event.

He also said that the growth in employment also had a positive impact on the hospitality industry in Calabar.

“We have been keen on big data since 2007, we inherited 2,300 bedrooms across Calabar but today, we have over 35,000.

“We inherited 5,000 direct employment and today, we have over 40,000 direct employment because the hotels are growing and the youth are meaningfully engaged.

“But we are conscious of the fact that government does not have to be in this business. And so, we are gradually pulling out.

“That is why we said by 2025, the sector will fund itself,” he said.

The chairman, who spoke on the uniqueness of the carnival, said, “What stands us out is our competitive genre, our carnival is interpreted using elements of theatre from plot, costumes, music, dance to run.

“But we do not pride ourselves that we made it, God gave it to us.”

Speaking on the reason the international carnival was not held, Onah said the commission was discouraged due to the unstable status of the dollar.

“You can see that the dollar has become football, you cannot plan with an unpredictable dollar and we decided to introduce the structure of co-sponsorship,” he said

Onah expressed his appreciation for Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River, recognising his strong commitment to improving lives and empowering young people.

He said that the governor’s support and involvement played a significant role in the success of the carnival, making it a memorable event with a large turnout.

“We are lucky to have a governor that believes in the people. He has shown strong affiliation to change lives and to engage the young people.

“And this brings us to the reason for this carnival, the role of carnival calabar and its opportunities in the creative economy.

“How can this change the lives of our boys and girls? This brought us to the question that, are we going to continue in arts for arts sake?, which is leisure or arts as a commodity and this is what we are bringing to the table.

“That is why we introduced training; to train our young ones on the opportunities in the sector, the dos and don’ts on the carnival route, product knowledge, customer care and customer service.

“And we have been blessed, having been trained at world carnivals like that of Trinidad and Tobago as well as Rio de Janeiro, that are culturally inclined and mechanical,” he said.

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