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Akwa Ibom government cancels 2020 carols festival, blames ‘logistical challenges’

Akwa Ibom government has announced the cancellation of this year’s Christmas Carols festival which was seen as a major tourism event during the festivities.

Since it began many years ago, it is the first time, the Carols festival has been canceled as it often attracts top gospel artists and musicians around the world while also drawing world-renowned preachers and evangelists.

Previously, it had been reported to be supported by private companies including banks and financial institutions as well as mobile phone operators though the state government has never disclosed the financial contributions from the private sector to the event.

It is also not known how much was generated as revenue from the event in terms of hotel bookings and other services.

In giving reasons for the cancellation, the state government said it took the decision due to logistical challenges.

The state government has come under severe criticisms over alleged extra-budgetary expenditure as contained in the auditor-general report of 2019. It has however denied the allegation attributing it to errors in the coding protocol due to the use of the new accounting system.

Orman Esin, commissioner for culture and tourism in a statement said the state government canceled the Carols festival due to the international restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This development is hinged on the logistics challenge posed by the global lockdown and international travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the bourgeoning threat of a second wave of the virus.”

“As expected of world-class events of that magnitude, its preparation starts at least six months before the date. The global travel restrictions and closure of factories earlier in the year made it impossible to commence the planning of this annual soul lifting spiritual event this year.

“The government deeply regrets this development and urges citizens to take personal responsibility, in addition to government restrictions, to prevent the transmission of the dreaded virus.”

Analysts have also attributed the cancellation of the Carols to the criticism which had trailed the event in the past which was seen by many as a drainpipe and adding no economic value to the state

Others also have accused the state government of getting too involved in religious affairs as seen its decision to build a worship centre which has already gulped billions of naira.

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