Cross Riverians Celebrate A Bleak Christmas in 2014

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posted by Nyok Efio Ita

Christmas is a period in Christendom when the birth of Jesus
Christ is commemorated. 25 December is the day the Church hierarchy has
earmarked for the event. Though theologically speaking the actual day of the
birth of the most important figure in the Christian Faith is intellectually
uncertain, this day has come to stay.
The celebration of Christmas does not go without pump and
pageantry as Church services are held, choir renditions, cooking and eating of
exquisite cuisines and holidays are hallmarks of this period. Besides, though a
regious ceremony, politicians are now seen to identify with their constituents
by way of delivering Christmas broadcasts and declaring public holidays during
this period. For instance, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, the executive governor
of Akwa Ibom state is understood to have delivered a Christmas Message to the
citizens of Akwa Ibom State early this morning where among other things, he recounted
the achievements of the administration especially the world class stadium just
recently completed and launched.
Cross River State seem to be unrivalled in her commemoration
of the birth of Jesus. Apart from boasting the most peaceful and cleanest state
capital in Nigeria, its genius in playing host to every Nigerian, African and
humans globally is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria. To crown it all was
the introduction of the biggest street party in Africa, namely the Carnival
Calabar. This milestone in the state is reputed to have fans world over such
that it has a Commission to manage it -Cross River Carnival Commission.
Before the 2014 edition, especially during the
administration of Mr. Donald Duke(1999 – 2007) the ‘party’, played host to the
entire country, continent and the world at large. However, one distinctive
feature about the party is that Cross Riverians including Civil Servants
partook actively in the event as the government came up with a policy of 30
days holiday beginning from the first day of December and the upfront payment
of salaries of civil servant in November that allowed for their being
financially bouyant to celebrate the festive period. But alas, the reverse is
now the case.
At first, in the first tenure of the Liyel Imoke
administration(2007-2011) there was an attempt to scrap the Calabar Carnival, a
trend which met with stiff opposition and thus died a natural death. Albeit,
the 30 days holiday for civil servants and the upfront salary was scrapped by
the state government. It has continued unabated since then until now.
Nevertheless, in 2014 both the Christmas celebration for Christian faithfuls in
the state and the carnival is characterised by a gloomy atmosphere as civil
servants have not been paid their salaries, that is the November salary, let
alone the upfront December salaries. Considering the fact that CRS is a civil
service state which imply that the state is not industrialised it stand to
reason then that this year’s festive period will be underpinned by this
financial reality.
To worsen the already heated polity is the near-truth status
of the proposition that during the just concluded PDP primaries in  the state, the sum of N900 million is said to
have exhanged hands between hierarchies in the state government and the party
hierarchy at the national level to determine unwholesomely the trend of the
primaries’ result to the favour of the governor allegedly.

This is the situation of things today in CRS.