BACKLASH: There’s no way Tinapa would’ve succeeded as a state gov’t project – ‘Imoke’

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Efio-Ita Nyok|9 January 2017 In a swift reaction to the position of a former governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, who recently held that his successor lacked the political will to make Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort and Obudu Cattle Ranch, being Duke's brainchildren, work Mr Liyel Imoke the successor to Duke has aired his reservations against that statement. Former governor Imoke has rather revealed that Obudu Ranch has failed to evolve into a viable tourism and hospitality centre owing to the poor facilities at the Bebi airfield. Imoke particularly noted that, 'When the small plane carrying the military officers on their way to the Ranch for a meeting crashed near Benue State, that was the turning point that killed the Ranch as a resort center.' Concerning the moribund nature of Tinapa, Imoke said that the business and leisure resort was doomed to fail as most of its indices were contained in the exclusive list of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as against the concurrent list: 'On Tinapa, my first meeting with Donald in Washington DC around 2006/2007 when some South Africans presented the Tinapa concept then, we recommended that it should be a National government driven initiative and not a State government project. I hope Donald had listened then'. Imoke's retort was made known via Cross River-born, Atlanta-based development economist, Mr Princewill Odidi who reacted to the 8th January publication by CrossRiverwatch which aired the Duke's opinion. Odidi who disagreed with Duke's submissions also noted that, 'Virtually every body Imoke met during his tenure, that was his first request. 'My first meeting with Imoke, that was his first request. How can you help us with Tinapa and the Ranch he often queried? 'The Ranch would have picked up as a major Tourism and hospitality center if not for the poor equipment at Babi airfield. When the small plane carrying the military officers on their way to the Ranch for a meeting crashed near Benue State, that was the turning point that killed the Ranch as a resort center.' The international development consultant then proceeded to profer solutions to the billed-to-fail tourism initiatives of former Gov. Duke. In his words, 'To resuscitate the Ranch, we need a functional dependable airport not an air strip around Ogoja Obudu axis that can serve Ikom Urban, Edor Military base, Southern Cameroon and Markudi that does not have an airport with connecting roads to create easy access. I know the State government cannot afford it now, but that's the solution to the Ranch. 'Economic development in Cross River state has to move away from Calabar creating new markets in the North Central axis. A good functional airport can make that happen. If I were to suggest to Ayade government that is where the states economic focus should be. 'On Tinapa, my first meeting with Donald in Washington DC around 2006/2007 when some South Africans presented the Tinapa concept then, we recommended that it should be a National government driven initiative and not a State government project. I hope Donald had listened then. 'Most of the indices that would have made Tinapa to work fall under the national exclusive list. If Tinapa where nationally driven, the national economic plan would have captured its development indicators and the drive for its success would have been captured in other subsidizing platforms on national economic growth. 'There is no way Tinapa would have succeeded as a state government project because we lacked both technical, legislative, trade, commerce and maritime capacity to run such a project successfully. This was exactly what I told Imoke when he sought my advice in 2010. 'If the federal government is not ready to pick up the initiative and run with it as it is done in Brazil and Venezuela then they should forget it, Tinapa can never work, not in our lifetime. 'It is therefore uncharitable to blame Imoke for the dysfunction of Tinapa, there's nothing anyone would have done differently. 'There's no point blaming anyone now, but to be frank, Donald's rush to complete Tinapa infrastructure and commission the market place without functional market logistics, trade and enabling operational legislation to ensure its workability is largely responsible for our high debt profile today. 'Donald should be apologizing to Cross Riverians  for toying with our sensibilities and for putting us in this financial mess rather than blaming Imoke. I stand to be corrected.', Odidi concluded. For Duke, 'Tinapa is embarrassingly simple to get working. First of all, it was well built and it’s still standing, it just needs small renovation here and there, getting the chiller system working, paint the place. 'There’s a management group that has been begging Cross River State since the past ten years to take over the place and manage it, all you need to do is give it to them and they will arrange the working capital, it’s a political will, it has nothing to do with the facility is the will to make it work, the last administration didn’t have the will, they just didn’t want it to work, they didn’t want Obudu to work. I hope this administration will be different. 'This State, the strength of this State as I’ve always thought it was is on agriculture and tourism and you could see that came in during the December period. And you know one of the painful thing is not having Tinapa to work, because if we get Tinapa working the traffic you see in December will be year long. This will be the most sort destination in the whole West Africa, not just Nigeria. Now you try and envisage the traffic that came in December is year long, the amount of resources brought into our State. 'Now the demand, banks will be throwing money at you to build such facility because they know there’s a market for it. The farmer will make more money because he will grow more food, the hotelier, transporter will make a lot of money, you open a restaurant you will make money, that’s what it’s all about. The economy will function. Then if we are able to reactivate the Obudu cattle ranch, the traffic that goes up and down, you know the traffic from north and south, people flying all across the State, all that will help, tourism is so natural to us, it’s not something we must work hard to achieve, it’s like a second nature'. Efio-Ita Nyok
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