By Joe Iniodu

……………….As part of activities to mark the Christmas Celebration, the Akwa Ibom State Government would on December 22, 2017 at Uyo Township Stadium at 6pm set the State aglow with the biggest annual event in this part of the globe; the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival.

Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival which started in 2008 is on its 10th edition this 2017. For the State Government, the planners and the event itself, it has been a long journey with historic curves on the spectrum. In the course of the journey, the event has peaked from scale to scale making a chance for this 10th edition to enjoy greater improvement.

Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival started with 9,300 choristers drawn from the State. In 2009, the number was scaled up to 9,999 which unofficially became the brand name for the event. But the event began to lose its essence as the brand name subsumed the Christmas Carols which it is. As a way of restoring the event in value and essence as well as make it compatible with the mood and zeitgeist of the moment, the event had to be rechristened as Akwa Ibom Christians Carols Festival in 2015 with the advent of the Udom administration.

It is pertinent to note that through the encouragement of this event, the Protocol directorate in 2014 began in January to plan for a more humongous mass choir. By December 13, it had assembled the largest mass choir of 25,272 called the Godswill Akpabio Unity Choir. That endeavour broke the glass ceiling as the State ascended the global orbit to make the Guinness Book of World Records for assembling the largest mass choir on planet earth

But away from the above extraneous are the many valuable nuances that the event births which ordinarily may appear imperceptible. First, the annual event signposts the State Government’s relationship with God and its fundamental act of evangelism which the scripture exhorts us to do as Christians. The State Government in obedience to the scripture conducts a corporate evangelism of grandiose scale with a reach that is estimated in excess of over 100 million.

There is also the unity value inherent in the event as people from all the 31 local government areas are selected and made to sing together in praise to the Almighty God in a manner that would knit them together in love. The Christian religion upholds love for one another as a cardinal pillar of its faith. An event like the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival would certainly advance this cause by extirpating the seeming areas of our discord.

There is no misgiving in the fact that Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival has become the biggest annual event in the State. It has consequently become a huge tourism item. Every end of the year, people from all over the world look forward to being part of the big evangelism venture. They make Uyo in Akwa Ibom State a destination which give rise to increased activities in the State. At the time of filing this report, all airlines flying into the State have increased their slots to two to enable them cope with the deluge of passengers that are coming into the State for the event on December 22.

Of course, with the increased activities, there are also increased economic opportunities. The hospitality industry is already booming on account of the Carols. The transportation sector is not left out as visitors need to move around. Restaurants and food vendors would witness booms alongside other forms of services. And so the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festivals apart from the spiritual rejuvenation also stimulates the local economy.

The 2017 Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival being the 10th edition has reflected in scale that it has come a long way. The artistes have been carefully selected to give the event the razzmatazz deserving of a tenth edition. But most importantly is the reach through satellite television network. Previously it used to be DSTV only delivering the event to its 48 million viewers. But in this edition, Welsh Television Network has joined to beam the event live to its 93 million viewers. The network covers USA, Canada and part of the Caribbean and has 27 television stations. The event also has over 3.6 million online interactions.

The Akwa Ibom Christians Carols Festival has come to further define the State and serve as its signature. It is an event we must continue to embrace and support not only for our individual spiritual upliftment but for the outpouring of blessings which we are witnessing in the land of Akwa Ibom. As we file out to savour the bliss, joy and blessings the event brings, I say congratulations and compliments of the season.
Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst.

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