opinionBy Mustapha Suleiman
The Abuja National Carnival started in 2005 as an annual event aimed at showcasing the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Nigeria, and for promoting the country as a safe, warm and hospitable tourism destination.
The annual carnival, coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation was again hosted by Abuja from November 24 to 27, 2012.
Aside from the different state contingents, there were participants from other countries that graced the event.
There was a lot of trading activities at the various carnival routes. At Jabi Lake, where the boat regatta was held, many FCT residents made brisk businesses selling food, beverages, clothing items amongst several others to residents and people from all walks of life who trooped to the venue to watch the regatta.
One of them, Salisu Musa, told this reporter that he paid a token sum of N1,000 to get an open space at Jabi Lake and made a lot of sales from his suya business.
Also, Madam Jane, a food seller at the event venue said that she made substantial money from her food selling business at the venue.
Due to the surrounding bushes and the selling of alcohol, spirits, cigarettes and gambling, many criminal elements were able to find their way in, rubbishing the tight security arrangement put in place .
A middle aged man was caught trying to pick the pockets of unsuspecting victims, he was mobbed by the crowd before being handed over to the police.
At the Eagle Square, overzealous security agencies harassed journalists who thronged the venue to capture the event.
A photographer who said he is attached to the media office of a minister was thoroughly assaulted by members of the civil defence corps for taking pictures in an area they disallowed.
But it wasn't all gloomy as clowns in funny costumes were also on ground entertaining spectators; many laughed at their jokes and theatrics and even took pictures with them. Music blared from speakers mounted on vehicles from various state contingents, adding flavour to the rich cultural displays and dances at the Square, which was also a haven for traders at the opening and closing of the carnival.
Behind the smiles of state contingents were complaints about the poor, accommodation, feeding and remunerations.
One of the participants, Ramat from Gombe State contingent complained that they were put up in a primary school which is more or less like a camp, instead of a befitting hotel. This, according to her, made them uncomfortable and weary for the event.
This year's edition which was tagged "Carnival of Peace and Harmony", according to the organizer, was geared towards mobilizing Nigerians for peaceful coexistence and harmonious relationship.
The organisers say the carnival is a brand that binds Nigerians and promotes beauty and strength in diversity. It is a unique brand that involves the 36 States plus the Federal Capital Territory and countries from all over the world. Coordinating Minister of the carnival and Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Chief Edem Duke said that this year's carnival involved women and youth organizations, school children, non- governmental and specialized organization, the military/ paramilitary and several culture/ tourism stakeholders.
"Also, the unique aspect of Abuja National Carnival is the fact that the activities are highly competitive, which has given Nigerians the platform to develop and showcase their creative ingenuity as a tool for the nation's development and economic transformation," he said.
Events competed for in this year's carnival were boat regatta, masquerade, durbar, street carnival, cultural night/ traditional cuisine and bush bar, command performance, contemporary music fiesta and Children fiesta,
Others were best carnival king, best carnival queen, best carnival performance, best carnival children participation and best carnival float.
Announcing the results of the 2012 edition, Artistic Director of Abuja Carnival, Prof. Bakare Ojo Rasaki declared Rivers State as the overall best participants.
He gave the breakdown of the results of events competed for by participating states in all the categories as follows:
Most Spectacular Masquerade:
1st - Bayelsa, 2nd Oyo, 3rd Rivers and 4th Niger.
Best Masquerade Costume
1st -Rivers, 2nd Akwa Ibom, 3RD Anambra and 4th Oyo.
Best Masqurade Performance
1st Oyo, 2nd Akwa Ibom, 3rd Anambra and 4th Rivers.
1st Akwa Ibom, 2nd Bayelsa, 3rd Benue/ Ekiti and 4th Niger.
Cultural Night Performance
1st Lagos, 2nd FCT, 3RD Imo and 4th Rivers.
1st Rivers, 2nd Bayelsa , 3rd Akwa Ibom and 4th Niger.
Best Regatta Costumes
1st Rivers, 2nd Bayelsa, 3rd Akwa Ibom and 4th Niger.
Best Decorated Boat
1st Bayelsa, 2nd Rivers, 3rd Akwa Ibom and 4th Niger state.
1st Rivers, 2nd Katsina, 3rd Kogi and 4th Benue.
Best Carnival Performance
1st Akwa Ibom, 2nd Rivers, 3rd Kogi, 4th Benue and FCT.
Best Carnival Float
1st Oyo , 2nd Kogi, 3rd Bayelsa and 4th Ekiti.
Best Carnival Costume
1ST Rivers, 2nd Akwa Ibom, 3rd FCT, 4TH Bayelsa and Kogi .
Best Carnival Queen
1st Kogi, 2nd Bayelsa, 3rd Akwa Ibom and 4th Benue .
Best Carnival King
1st Rivers, 2nd Kogi, 3rd Benue and 4th Bayelsa.
Best Decorated Durbar
1st Niger, 2nd Kano, 3rd yobe, 4th Ogun.
Best Durbar Performance
1st Yobe, 2nd Niger, 3rd Kano and 4th Ogun.
1st Kano, 2nd Yobe, 3rd Niger and 4th Ogun.
Overall Best States
3rd Akwa Ibom
4th Oyo, Benue and Kogi (jointly)