The annual Calabar Carnival on which the Cross River State Government may spend over N3 billion is threatened as workers plan to resume an indefinite strike today over non-payment of gratuities, and welfare packages.
Workers in the state are wondering why the state government cannot implement the MOU it signed with labour months ago, yet it is embarking on a wasteful and lavish carnival and beauty contest spree.
It alleged that tourism sites like Obudu Cattle Ranch, Marina Resort, Agbokim Water Falls, Kwa Falls, the mountain race that was to boost tourism and stimulate local economy and sports have been abandoned and even money owed last winners (international and local athletes) in 2014 mountain race have not been paid yet there is enough to waste on beauty contest and other frivolities.
Commenting yesterday on the huge budget for the carnival and other things, the Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Clarkson Otu said, “the government is being wasteful proposing to spend over N3 billion on carnival and beauty contest and if it is true that they have budgeted such amount for carnival, it is right to say they are wasteful. What are we really celebrating when there is so much poverty? You cannot pay people’s gratuity, yet you are spending so much money for carnival, fanfare, it does not make sense.”
On how much the state was budgeting for this year’s carnival, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Eric Anderson declined to give figures but said, that they were not talking about money but the large number of African countries that are coming and they will spend much in the state which cannot be quantified but added that the state spent about N1.2 billion last year and for this year, he cannot quantify for now because more people are coming in and the carnival is bigger.
Anderson said, “this year’s carnival is going to take a new shape and we are working hard to ensure that there are new initiatives by the various bands. This is why the governor has graciously approved N100 million from the previous N50 million for the use of each band because they are going to be involved in, not just the carnival, but other activities like the street party and the rest.”
The state government has been running a radio announcement calling for a meeting with the organized labour to look into their demands and probably avert the proposed strike.