After almost six hours of the contingents waiting at Area 1, Garki, for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, the High Chief Edem Duke to lead the procession, Abuja Carnival 2012 finally kicked off at about 2pm yesterday.
About twenty three states including FCT, Niger, Anambra, Oyo, Cross River, Ekiti, Gombe, zamfara, Benue, Kogi and Bayelsa amongst others participated at the opening ceremony. International contingents include Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, South Korea, Egypt and Namibia.
Of these only nineteen states marched to the less than quarter filled Eagle Square performing with their floats which tried to interpret the theme, 'Peace and Harmony' mostly by the use of birds.
In her speech, Dame Patience Jonathan urged women and youths to embrace peace and harmony.
In his remark, Duke said culture has always had its place in the socio-cultural landscape of Nigeria. "The diversity and sheer creativity of Nigerians can't be found in other African countries." He urged all to do exploits in Abuja so that the world will see why it is the fastest growing city in Africa and that the youths' energy should actualize the development agenda.
Although the Minister said the event shows "we are blessed with culture," many wondered why the costumes were more foreign than Nigerian.
"Publicity was zero" said Mr. Ade Oni who stumbled on the event on his way to the Millennium Park. "I'd given up that it wasn't happening this year and was pleasantly surprised when I saw them," he said.
His pleasures he said have been short-lived as costumes of participants, "make the carnival look more like they belong to South American troupes than Nigerian ones."
Mariam Abu and her husband, Ishiaku, said, "This year, Abuja Carnival is a shame and the worst I've attended since 2005. The arena is so empty and the participants are the ones filling the place because they go to seat after they parade."
Ivy Gabriel was more optimistic. "It usually starts slow but I'm sure the days following will be better and more appealing.
The event ends next Tuesday with a ceremony where winning states will be awarded trophies.