It was thrills and frills as the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, led 250 power bikers, including former governor Donald Duke in an acrobatic display of state of the art exotic power bikes.
The bikers’ segment of the Calabar Carnival, which took place on Wednesday afternoon, witnessed throngs of spectators who laid siege on the 12-kilometre carnival route to watch acrobatic displays.
Leading the charge which took off to an ecstatic start, the revellers screamed and cheered as Governor Ayade, who was carrying his wife, Mrs Linda Ben-Ayade, and his band of riders took to the road from the Millennium Park.
“The bikers’ parade intention is to connect with young people,” the governor said. “If you look at the audience in the carnival, it has undergone dramatic change in the last 10 years – from the elderly to the middle age, now to the young people and if you don’t change the content of the carnival to reflect the enthusiasm and the adrenaline pumping nature of the young people, you will be boring to them.
“So we need to create an atmosphere that shows that the governor has the wisdom of a sixty-year-old and the enthusiasm of a child – an old head on a young shoulder; I can afford to act like I am young, a youth and at the same time be a governor”.
The Bikers’ Carnival which before today went through a series of rigorous dry runs, lived up to its billing as they pulled tons of stunts in front of the ever cheering crowd.
Governor Ayade, who noted that the carnival only feature procession and dance on the streets before now, said he was trying to carry the youths along in the affairs of the state.
Joking about his outfits, he said: ”When you see a governor on a bandana, with my bling bling just looking like one of them, I’m telling you that look, this man was a doctor at 23, professor at 32 and governor at a very… and is performing; so I can be like you!
“Just look at the crowd, this is record breaking. I have broken my own record. Last year, it was a huge success but today, I am afraid if the carnival tomorrow will be able to carry this bikers’ parade that we did today.”
On the choice of red as the colour and what led to the shape of his bike, he said he was trying to show the “red smart energy” in him and the ability to blend in to any situation.
“Red scorpion but if you look at the head, it is a crocodile; if you look at the fins it tells you that look – I am an Octopus. You can’t really tell my story, I have the capacity to change at all times. If I want to be a young person, I will; as a professor, I will; as a senator, I will; if I want to behave like a lawyer, I will; but more importantly, that I don’t forget my history.
“So, my bike tells the story of the blend in one person, and that is the story that you see in that. It is custom made, designed by myself and produced only to me in the entire world,” the governor said.