Since its maiden edition in 2012, the Eggon carnival has become one event that all Eggon sons and daughters – especially the youths – and their neighbours from other ethnic groups look forward to.
In fact, it would seem the Christmas and New Year festivities in Nasarawa State are not complete without the Eggon carnival. And save for one year, the Eggon carnival organized by Ame Wo Ba Eggon has provided the needed entertainment and cultural re-awakening craved for by the teeming populace.
The year 2020 was set to be no different as plans were already on top gear to host the year’s carnival tagged “Carnival of Possibilities”.
This was until day before yesterday (Friday December 25, 2020) – just two days to the D-day – when expectations were dashed; the organizers announced that the Eggon carnival for this year has been cancelled.
In an announcement signed by Barr. Alaku Dennis, the Chairman of the Media and Publicity Sub-Committee and circulated on social media, the organizers said following new guidelines released by the Nasarawa State taskforce on COVID19, it became pertinent for them to review the plans for this year’s carnival.
It stated that “the event at Eggon Community Secondary School and procession from Aren Eggon’s palace to Eggon Community is hereby cancelled” and that only the gala night event at Lafia City Hall, Shendam Road Lafia was going to hold. Even that will be done in strict compliance with protocols given by the government to curb the spread of the virus according to the statement.
This, of course, drew many reactions from across board. People who were looking forward to the carnival, were disappointed. And while some understood the reasons the organizers gave, some others were less understanding.
In our quest to shed more light on the happenings, Eggonnews approached and had a chat with Comrade Haruna Achuku Isaac, and Barr Ayiwulu Baba Ayiwulu, the President of Ame Wo Ba Eggon and the Chairman of the Central Working Committee planning the 2020 Eggon Carnival of Possibilities respectively.
Giving explanation on how the organizers came about the decision to cancel the carnival, Barr Ayiwulu Baba Ayiwulu said it was based solely on the directives that came from the State Government making it impossible to host such an event without being in violation of said directives.
He said: “While planning for the events was on top gear, we realized the need to call off the carnival aspect of this year’s programme following Federal and State directives on the protocols (for preventing the spread of COVID-19) especially as the second wave is hitting and hitting hard.
“On discussion with some of the key players and those who are actually in the team, the State taskforce on COVID-19, we realised that we are law-abiding citizens, the Eggon nation consists of law-abiding citizens – and more so that the directive is that you don’t gather unnecessarily more than the expected number. And then even if you are gathering with the minimal number, you should observe some protocols like the social distance, wearing of facemasks, the use of sanitizer and running water. We know too well that the carnival is an open-space event with people coming from far and wide.
“Considering the expected turnout, we will not be able to manage the crowd. Of course, you know everywhere in Eggon Community (Secondary School) is an access road. How do we mount persons that will be taking a test on the temperature? How do we regulate the washing of hands? How do we regulate the wearing of facemasks and others? We felt we cannot because it is a gathering of thousands. So, it will be safer for us to respect the constituted authorities.”
Barr Ayiwulu said that although organizers of other carnivals have gone ahead to stage theirs, Ame Wo Ba Eggon could not afford to do so.
In his words: “Like I said, ours is a very popular one and given the number of the expected crowd.
“And if other persons are holding their carnival, they are doing that in defiance. Except if they assure the observation of the protocols. We wouldn’t tell whether they are observing it or not. But for us, we felt it will be very hard for us to comply strictly.
“We don’t want to rate ours based on their own. We don’t know which special immunity they have. We don’t know how prepared they are. But for us, we are only prepared as… we don’t want to risk any violation. We are law-abiding citizens.”
The Central Working Committee chairman also gave assurances that but for the directives by the State Government, his committee was well prepared to host this year’s carnival.
“We were so prepared. We have people who had actually showed commitment to assist. We have our ground already cleared. If you go to Eggon Community (Secondary School) you will discover that we have cleared all the bushes there. We have the stage, we have the canopies, the artistes and other performers. We already got in touch with other cultural troupes from outside Eggon ethnic groups like the Koro (Migili), the Agatu, the Alago, the Mada who were coming to perform.
“We are fully prepared. It is just that on the strength of the advice of the health committee, and on the strength of the State directive on COVID-19, and also considering that our members are coming from far and wide, we decided not to expose ourselves to risk and let us not also violate a standing order. We cannot manage the crowd.”
On his part, the President of Ame Wo Ba Eggon, Comrade Haruna Achuku Isaac appealed to all who are disappointed by the decision to understand with the organizers.
He said: “As the President of Ame Wo Ba Eggon, we actually know that a lot of people were having this expectation. Considering that the carnival, as far as I am concerned, right from inception, there has never been any carnival in Nasarawa State that attracts a lot of people like the Eggon carnival.
“And with the expectations our people are having in mind for them to again realise that the carnival has been cancelled, we actually want to apologise for all this.
“It is not that we deliberately did that. We know that we are the centre of attraction in the State. In fact, if not Nigeria, in the State we are number one. With that, we wouldn’t want a situation whereby the government of the day will think that we are disobeying them.
“A lot of people must have been disappointed. I have gotten so many calls. They were disappointed that we cancelled this carnival considering that others went on with theirs. Actually, we cannot do the same with others because they are different from us.
“We have to let our people know that our health matters. Our health has to come first before any other thing. If one of us comes down with COVID-19, I think it will pain us. How do we know that if we hold the carnival that our people will be free from the virus considering there are people coming from various places across the country and even beyond? People shouldn’t be disappointed. They should first of all think of their lives, their health. We have to take precautions.
“So, we are apologising to the Eggon nation, apologising to our neighbours that were prepared to come and celebrate with us. It is not our making.”
Although the carnival events will not hold, the gala night will still hold with all its activities especially the pageantry for Adzuayi and Azba Moa Eggon.
All who intend to attend the gala night which will hold on Sunday December 27, 2020 at the Lafia City Hall, Shendam Road Lafia from 6pm are strongly advised by the organizers to be prepared to comply with all protocols given by the government and health officials to prevent the spread of COVID19. These include the compulsory wearing of facemask, social distancing and washing of hands with soap and running water. All who are sick are also advised to stay at home.