By Emeka Anokwuru
The Ososo Carnival in Akoko-Edo, Edo State, which has become one of the most anticipated events that people in Ososo and neighbouring communities as well as those in the Diaspora look forward to annually, is expected to attract over 300,000 participants this year. Mr. Moses Ajayi, president, Ososo Carnival Initiative, who gave the figure while speaking at a press meeting in Lagos recently, stated that the new management team would do everything to meet and surpass that target when the carnival holds in December.
“This year’s edition is the seventh in the series. It is, however, going to stand out from the previous editions for a number of reasons. The entire concept of the carnival has been reviewed and redefined. The new vision is to rejuvenate and elevate Ososo Carnival to a world-class event,” he said.
He disclosed that the business and economic angles were now being explored and harnessed for the benefit of the community and Edo State at large, adding “our mission is to drive domestic tourism, grow the local economy and generate significant revenue for Edo State”.
He also noted that as part of the preparations, the management of the carnival has a new technical partner, Neo Media and Marketing Limited, with the responsibility of sourcing for funds, promoting, marketing and providing event management services for a period of five years. The high point of the press briefing was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two parties to deepen that relationship. The Ososo Carnival Initiative has also entered a networking relationship with the Cross River State Carnival Commission to learn from the experience of the frontline carnival and the capacity to elevate Ososo Carnival to a world-class event. Mr. Austin Cobham, executive secretary, Cross River State Carnival Commission, speaking at the event, stressed that collaboration between the two carnival commissions would be sustained, adding that Nigeria had the capacity, with over 150 million people to supply reasonable traffic to as many carnivals as possible. He explained that the two carnivals offer different products, one takes place in the hilly terrain of Ososo, the other in the green Calabar environment, noting that what most tourists focus on was the street party, neglecting the other components, such as awards ceremony, musical jamboree, beauty pageant, bonfire, which are part of the whole.
In his contribution, Osemwegie-Ero, Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, pledged government’s continuous support to position the carnival as a must-attend event in the region. He described Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State as a man who has identified tourism as a veritable tool to reflate the economy. He promised to put measures in place at the ministry level to sustain the partnership.
In all, seven bands have been created for this edition of the carnival, which would hold from December 23 to 30, 2017, five competitive and two non-competitive, including the Governor’s Band and Akoko Edo Band.
The Ososo Carnival is a cultural event held annually to showcase the cultural heritage, tradition and tourism potential of Ososo in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State. The carnival is a package of leisure events, including street dance, parade of costumes, arena-based performances, beauty pageant, musical funfairs, bonfire,cultural display, art and fashion exhibitions, visual creativity and sporting activities.