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Cross River blames lockdown as vendors, airlines groan over Calabar Carnival debts


The Calabar Carnival Commission has attributed the delay in the payment of vendors that participated in the 2019 Calabar Carnival seven months after hosting the event on COVID-19 lockdowns.

Some vendors had raised concern over the insensitivity of the Cross River State Government to their plights despite several appeals to Governor Ben Ayade to pay the debt.

According to them, the Commission had forwarded the audited copy of the bills owed to the vendors to the governor since January but unfortunately 7 months after hosting of another carnival the money is yet to be paid.

Also, the travel agent that handled the airfare tickets of diplomats that participated at the carnival, Akor Otobo lamented the delay in payment saying the loan he obtained from a commercial bank to pay for flight tickets has been accruing interest with no assurances on when the money would be paid.


He said the Calabar Carnival Commission pleaded with them on trust to write Turkish, Egypt and Emirates Airlines for the tickets for foreign participants that attended the carnival in December 2019 to the tune of N8.540million.

Akor said, “To avoid punitive measures by the International Air Transport Association they had to borrow money from commercial bank to pay the airlines, and unfortunately with delay in payment the interest is going up and the banks are daily threatening him to pay up or risk collateral damage.”

The Travel agency in an appeal letter to the Governor, the Deputy Governor and the Speaker of the Cross River state house of Assembly had urged the governor to approve the payment of the debt owed to them or else they may be pushed to seek legal action.

Another vendor, Diana Mary, who was the master of ceremony in several posts on her social media page, appealed for prompt payment of the debt owed her and other vendors that participated at the festival.

She wrote, “My dearest gov Ayade, I wish we could do breakfast one of these days.I just want to discuss Carnival 2019 payment with you.


“Appointees on SM, help me tell our gov that he should be humane and pay for carnival 2019. If others enjoy being unpaid, I don’t.” H. E Sir Benedict Ayade, Please pay Diana Mary Nsan her wages of #CalabarCarnival2019
Thank you.”

But the chairman of the Calabar Carnival Commission Onah Gabriel told The Guardian that they are undergoing internal procedures of outstanding bills which is consistent with post-event submission before the COVID-19 lockdown happened.

He said the Due Process Office have just finished their reviews and have made recommendations to the governor and is awaiting his approval.

“I had assured Mr Otobo very recently and other such vendors and ad-hoc staff to give us some time to sort out our internal processes as the Governor who is a lover of quality service delivery and humanity in service, has been quite engaged with other state matters. I want to believe that, these will all come to pass and soon,” Gabriel said.

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