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A new Carnival Calabar Queen (CCQ) was crowned early on Sunday morning, courtesy of Oceanic Bank International Plc, which sponsored the pageant with a whopping N55 million as part of its overall sponsorship of this year’s Calabar Festival. The new royalty is Miss Alok Monoliths, personified by Miss Mayen Ekpo, a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), who emerged from a strong field of 29 contestants representing leading historical personalities, cultural monuments and tourist attractions of Cross River State. In recognition of the bank’s role, organizers of the pageant invited the Oceanic Bank’s executive director, Mr. Henry Ajagbawa, to assist the wife of the state governor, Mrs. Obioma Liyel Imoke, to crown the new queen and present the bank’s dummy cheques to the winner and her two runners-up. This is the third year running that Oceanic Bank has partnered with the government and people of Cross River State in sponsoring the Calabar Festival, a month-long programme of cultural activities that has made the state capital the leading tourist destination at this time of the year. Oceanic Bank had earlier last week similarly shown its strong support for the cultural event during the dry run of the Calabar Carnival coming up tomorrow by supplying the T-shirts and baseball caps worn by hundreds of participants, the only sponsor to do so, while adding a corporate dimension to the event. Some of the participants couldn’t help commending Oceanic Bank for its sponsorship of the Calabar Christmas Festival which the Bank has faithfully sponsored for the past three years. Bands, which paraded with matching contemporary Nigerian pop music through the streets of Calabar during the dry run, adorned in Oceanic Bank corporate attire, included Freedom Band, Bay Side, Passion 4, Seagull, Master Blaster, and Apache Aliens. These bands were complemented with those from the Cross River Fire Service, Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Prisons, the Nigerian Mobile Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, and the Calabar Urban Development Authority, among others. Traffic was held up for the duration of the rehearsal as the parade went through Marian Road, MCC Road and Murtala Muhammed Highway, among others, before ending up at the U.J. Esuene Stadium. The rehearsal attracted thousands of spectators who appreciated the various bands as they gave a hint of how they would perform when the carnival proper is held next week. The Oceanic Bank chief executive, Mr. John Aboh, had last month, personally presented the cheque for the sponsorship to Cross River governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, at the Governor’s Office, Calabar. Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Aboh stated that Oceanic Bank would continue to provide support to Cross River State to enable the state achieve its lofty goals for its people. Also speaking, Governor Imoke promised to strengthen the relationship between the state government and Oceanic Bank in order to derive maximum benefits from the quality services offered by the bank. The governor further praised the bank for being the highest single sponsor of the Calabar Festival last year. Following the sponsorship by Oceanic Bank, Governor Imoke kicked off this year’s Calabar Festival with a tree-lighting ceremony on November 30. Since then, various cultural activities have been held daily. The activities include musical and theatrical shows as well as presentations by the various local government areas in the state. The festival will be rounded up with an interdenominational thanksgiving service at the Cultural Centre, Calabar on January 1, 2010.
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