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Why Cross River’s $600M Tinapa Resort became Moribund —Donald Duke

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*Says Nigerian governance a money making venture, lacks continuity

Godsgift Onyedinefu

A former Governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke, says the Tinapa Resort investment, concieved under his adminstration could not be realized, mainly because it was abandoned by successive governments who lacked the political will to continue the project estimated to generate N300 billion annually.

The Tinapa Free Trade Zone and Resort (TFTZ&R), Calabar, was designed to boost business and tourism in the state. It was expected to receive 3 million visitors annually at inception with each visitor spending about N100,000 on business activities.

The former governor, speaking at a virtual ‘Development Discourse with Patrick Okigbo III’ facilitated by Nextier with the theme: ‘Getting Big Things Done in Government’ , decried the lack of continuity in governance process left Tinapa, that held many promises for the state and the southern region moribund for many years, despite the billions of naira that went into it.

He debunked claims that the project failed because the state lost its oil well to Akwaibom, describing it as an absolute hogwash, Duke said Tinapa was already fully built and ready to take it’s anchor tenant, Walmart before he left office, dding that the oil wells were lost three years later and therefore has nothing to do with Tinapa becoming moribund.

Duke said successive government probably fell victim of political jobbers. Who convinced him that the credits of Tinapa when completed will be awarded to him, and adviced him to initiate his own projects instead.

The former governor decried the failure of government to appreciate each others administrations, and rather try to look smarter than their predecessor. He informed that a successive governor wrote to AMCON to say they are no longer interested in Tinapa.

“Each adminstration should be seen as a shift from the next. There is failure of continuity of process. KPMG, world bank endorsed Tinapa, several banks bought shares. But, governance in Nigeria is like a relay, we drop the battle”, he said.

Duke further said that even successive governors in the South-south region weren’t as passionate. He disclosed that the governments of the region often only inetgrate, becuse they are seen as the minority ethnic group in the country and fear of being dominated by the major ethnic groups.

The former governor further decried that politicians vying for elective offices in Nigeria, often have absolutely nothing to offer and have turn governance into a money making venture. He added that even youths vying for political offices often have the passion, but lack the experience.

Duke posits that an aspiring political leader must have experience, vision, know they us expected of him and be ready to deliver.

He highlighted some of his achievements as governor too include; introduction of tourism, sanitisation of Cross Rivers which got support of various development partners, sack of over 4,000 ghost workers and other changes in primary health care and education sector.

He said the success was achieved because the people owned it. According to him, a vision remains a hollow if the governed don’t embrace it.

“Once society takes ownership, they out pressure on government to deliver. Once you get people to buy into it, governance becomes a piece of cake”, he said.

To this end, he adviced that policies should not be developed as national policy, but people policy.

The former governor further adviced that any government that is likely to come int power in 2023, should focus on restructuring, judicial reform, and tax base.

“Restructuring is important, we need a system that allows us to develop at our own pace.

“Our judicial system is killing us, justice takes years. Suoreme court is overburdened, it’s a flood system”, he said.

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