Obono-Obla and Ifere Paul part ways! See reasons

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Ifere Paul (l), Donald Duke (m), Okoi Obono-Obla (r) 
Efio-Ita Nyok|10 January 2017
With regards to the debate that’s ongoing among Cross Riverians incited by a set of recently made statements credited to Mr Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River State, leading social commentators/ activists in the state especially Chief Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla and Ifere Paul have pitched tents at different intellectual angles NegroidHaven can say emphatically.
On Sunday 8th January a leading online news website in Cross River State published a story with the title My Successor Didn’t Want Tinapa And Obudu Cattle Ranch To Work – Donald Duke in which Cross River former governor, Mr Duke, alleged that his successor lacked the political will to make Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort as well as Obudu Ranch work.
Obla who is incidentally the SA to the President on Prosecution and his media aide, Paul have taken different intellectual paths on the debate bordering on the Tinapa/Ranch brouhaha. For Chief Obla, Tinapa was a white elephant project basically meant to be showy and exhibitionist. However, for his political prodigy and aide Tinapa was otherwise. In fact, for Ifere Paul Tinapa was according to its design meant to be a viable business and leisure resort but failed because of the lack of continuity in successive governments.
In the words of Chief Obla yesterday while responding to a thread by Mr Princewill Odidi he said that ‘I dismissed Tinapa as far as 2001 as a white elephant project, showy, exhibitionist calculated to hype Donald Duke as Nigeria version of Yew Kuan Lee! I submitted that the project was elitist and ill+conceived but I was dismissed as arm chair critic! I even went to Court to challenge the law enacted by the State House of Assembly empowering Duke to borrow from the capital market to finance Tinapa even though Donald claim it was a private investment driven. But Cross Riverians were dazzled by Duke charm and ramattazz! I am glad that I have been vindicated. Imoke to me is blameless even though I had expected him to oppose the project since he was close to Duke. But he decided to play the ostrich for political gains.’
Albeit, for Paul, ‘Tinapa was built for tourism, leisure and pleasure. I don’t think it would have been appropriate for a federal government to get involved in state tourism drive. World over, states drives their tourism initiatives. In Ghana, regional administrative unit drives their tourism blueprints.
‘What Donald is saying here is that there was no contuinity in the idea for the creation of the projects…Tinapa and Ranch. Rather than building ICC which is a graduated Tinapa, why didn’t Liyel look for the flexible things that should have made Tinapa work. Was he pretentiously asking for help with Tinapa while planning ICC?’, Paul continued.
‘For me, Liyel betrayed the trust of Cross Riverians, because rather than continue the Tinapa legacy, he wanted to construct a signature project Where he could also borrow and siphone funds.’, he concluded.
Development Economist Princewill Odidi 
Even when Cross River-born, Atlanta-based development economist contended thus, ‘Ifere Paul take a look at Tinapa master plan, I have a copy which I can share with you. Tourism was secondary, Tinapa was actually built as a Market place to facilitate secondary import merchandise and trade. The primary purpose was not tourism. It was when trade failed, that was when they started toying with the idea of converting it to a type of Disney world which again was unrealizable considering its outskirts location and insufficient purchasing capacity in calabar without logistics to attract external patronage.’ 
Ifere Paul was consistent in his defense of former governor Donald Duke. Paul proceeded to submit in reply to Odidi thus, ‘Yes. Those are the flexible things I’m talking about. More than Disney, we could have built 5 star chain stores. Remember I told you I brought companies to vie for positions in Tinapa. Think about the HP Call Center for example that I brought. Think about HP South Africa, it could have been HP Calabar if Liyel had on his thinking hat. And there was KFC, Mcdonald’s, UniQlo, and many others. Shopping is a leisure activity. Remember too that we were supposed to have the cable car round Calabar. Think how our economy would have blown beyond words by now. Thinking outside the box doesn’t really mean there is a box. It is something Liyel wasn’t doing.
‘Have you heard about Downtown Dubai? Downtown Beijing? Downtown Ho Chi Mihn? Downtown Rio? Downtown LA?  Downtown Adelaide? Downtown Cairo? Victoria Island? Banana Island? etc As a town planner, I disagree that location of leisure spots must be in the burgeoning and noisy, and sometimes dirty looking buildings with choked up streets. Tinapa was meant to  expand the City of Calabar. With the fast train, we were supposed to move smartly and cheaply from both ends….the metropolis Calabar and the Suburb(downtown) Calabar. Cities and businesses of leisure strives better in cozy sorroundings and wider parking spaces. An example is the Ibom business resort.’, he further noted.
This evolving Tinapa/Ranch white elephant saga has polarised eggheads in Cross River State. The debate between Chief Obla and aide, Paul is just a case in point. I admire their intellectual freedom.
But come to think of it, is the N60 billion Tinapa just phasing into permanent oblivion with irreversible collateral damage on Cross River economy!? Is there truly no hope for Tinapa?
Efio-Ita Nyok
Is a Blogger, the Editor & Publisher of NegroidHaven.org