“TINAPA.” “Obudu Cattle Ranch.” “Calabar Carnival.” “Cable Car.” These all point to a period in time when Cross River State gained a unique name for itself as the ultimate tourist attraction in Nigeria. From the lush greenery of the Obudu cattle ranch with its world-class amenities, to the sheer grandiosity of the sprawling Tinapa Resort Complex.
But there is a cancer that plagues not just the administration of Cross River state but reaches across every aspect of Nigerian existence. That cancer is Negligence.
Nigerian society has grown famous for its glaring contempt for basic maintenance culture. Every aspect of Nigerian culture is notorious for laissez-faire attitude
In horror we have watched the number of visitors dwindle amidst security concerns and deteriorating quality of service. Misappropriation and repurposing of finances has strangled critical sectors of the tourism industry, leaving a top tourist destination with an abysmal outlook.
Documents obtained by critic, Ifere Paul show that funds amounting to over N164 million generated by the Obudu Cattle Ranch from 2015 to 2018 have bypassed the government coffers and found their way into private pockets. Calitown.com also reports that numerous assets of the exotic resort such as buses, trucks, generating sets, appliances, office equipment and electronics have been re-appropriated, reassigned or repossessed outright under mysterious circumstances.
In another striking unilateral move, Governor Ben Ayade chose to rename the Bebi airstrip after former governor Donald Duke. The Bebi Airstrip currently complements the Obudu Cattle Ranch complex. At a gala night to mark the 50th anniversary of Cross River State, a hearty governor prattled: “by the power conferred on me as governor of Cross River State, from today, government of Cross River State will christen the Bebi Airstrip as Donald Duke Airstrip. You cannot complete the history of Africa, Nigeria without mentioning Cross River State because of the carnival which is introduced by Mr. Duke.”
What remains to be seen is how renaming an airstrip will turn around its mismanagement woes.
As the erosion of malfeasance gnaws away at the legacies of his predecessors, it seems Governor Ayade is content with folding his hands and engorging himself on the cheers of his minions while the estate burns to the ground.
Commenting on the unfortunate turn of events, a PDP chieftain and former attorney general of the state, Eyo Ekpo said: “Tourism is dead in Cross River. This is not the time for us to continue to pretend about these things. The Ranch, the Bebi Airstrip, Alok monoliths, Drill Ranch, Marina Resort and Mary Slessor Tomb are all dead. The business visitors are all gone.”
“Today, a few travelers come and do business only with the state governor. What we have today is a situation where every opportunity for private enterprise has been driven away.”
“The state is no longer a place where you can say you are safe. Kidnappings have become a booming trade, cult wars are all over our streets and people are being killed. People go to social outings and as it gets dark, they dash home. It is so ridiculous to hear that every day, people are making up their minds that this is not where they want to raise their children”.
Fellow Cross Riverians, we have to ask ourselves if this is the state we want. We have to ask ourselves if we will allow our paradise to be lost for ever. We can still come together and write the wrongs of the past, but we must elect better leaders in 2019.