• Friday, March 01, 2024
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First Bank supports cultural renaissance to drive tourism potential


First Bank Limited, Nigeria’s customer centric bank, says its keen support for cultural renaissance is the rationale behind massive investments been ploughed into deepening the country’s growing tourism sector.

According to the bank, it has partnered with the Cross Rivers State government in the implementation of the Calabar Carnival, Africa’s largest street party, from inception to date. This partnership, according to the bank, has provided a veritable platform to bring happiness and excitement to Nigerians.

For quite some time, stakeholders have emphasised the need for further private sector participation in the development of a vibrant and competitive tourism sector. This is in view of the sector’s revenue generation potentials. Speaking at this year’s edition of the annual festival held in Calabar, with the theme: “Ain’t No stopping us”, U.K Eke, Executive Director, Public Sector Group at First Bank, noted that the bank remains a vibrant promoter of culture and heritage, having come through a rich heritage of almost 120 years.

“The Calabar Carnival is a platform for showcasing our rich Nigerian heritage and we are proud of our longstanding association with the annual festivities,” he said. He applauded the commitments of the Cross Rivers State government, under the astute leadership of Liyel Imoke, in sustaining the carnival initiative over the past few years. Eke pointed out that the bank has consistently supported the carnival as part of its drive and resolve to align with initiatives aimed at diversifying the nation’s revenue base through tourism.

“Cross River State is, creditably, a desirable destination for tourists, businessmen and investors”, he added. Effiwatt said the Calabar Carnival has yielded immense “returns in tourism, foreign investment, and economic development to the people of the state in particular and the Nigerian economy in general”.

Efiok Cobham, deputy governor of Cross River State, pointed out that the impact of the carnival initiative on the state was tremendous. “From the economic perspective, the carnival is a revenue driver. From the tourist’s perspective, CRS has witnessed a large turnout of people in and outside the country participating in the carnival.

The carnival attracts over 100,000 costumes, revelers, and a million local and global spectators”, he said. Speaking at the Grand Finale of the Carnival Calabar 2013, he described the carnival as a unique visual display of innovation and creativity, featuring cultural influences and traditions from the past and present in costumes, drama, dance and music.

The carnival was attended by top Nigerian musicians, Nollywood actors/actresses, politicians and global artistes. Officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps provided security coverage for participants in the 13-kilometre walk around major streets in Calabar.

The Carnival Calabar 2013 had five official competing bands with each having its own peculiar trait, uniqueness, strength and supporters. They include: Bayside Band, Freedom Band, Seagull Band, Masta Blasta, and Passion 4 Band.