Akwa Ibom Multibillion Naira Projects Rot Away

Ibom Hotel at Tropicana Entertainment Centre straightnews
Ibom Hotel at Tropicana Entertainment Centre

Projects worth multi-billions of Naira in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria’s 21st state are rotting away, Straightnews has discovered.

The projects are Ibom Hotel and International Convention Centre at Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Udo Udoma Avenue in Uyo, the state capital, are rather providing emergency habitats for rodents and reptiles.

Handled by Chaccour Construction, the 14-floor storey building, adjudged the tallest in the state then, is a 258-room five-star hotel spreads across more than two hectares.

The 5,000-seat convention centre has spacious parking lots for 700 cars in addition to having eight meeting rooms with full facilities.

Both abandoned projects glaringly wear ramshackle structures competing stiffly with growing weeds in their premises and rooms.

Straightnews team visited the project sites on Friday, June 4 and discovered that the environment is bushy while the poorly tarred road leading to the projects is filled with large pools of water.

Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre awarded in 2008 to Silverbird at the cost of N33 billion was alleged to have been reviewed to N120 billion in 2018.

Incidentally, the two ailing projects are tied to the apron string of the Tropicana project.

“My vision is to produce a small Dubai within the Niger Delta (region of Nigeria),” the then state governor, Godswill Akpabio, who initiated the project, said in early 2012.

Except for the private sector participation in turning the centre to shopping post which was inaugurated in December 2020, the Tropicana arena would have been forlorn.

But in a recent chat with the Conference of Online Publishers, Akwa Ibom State (COOPA), Chief of Staff to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Ephraim Inyangeyen, stated that the state government was cementing deals with a private investor to take over, complete and manage the hotel.

“Look at the Tropicana, a lot of money was sunk in. If it were a different government, perhaps today, it would have been abandoned. The mall is working today.

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“Today, I have the authority of the Governor to discuss with investors to take over the hotel part of the Tropicana. I am giving you information that is not at your disposal. I am chairing a committee engaging a private investor who has the resources to take on the hotel and complete it,” he said.

However,  Mr. Okpolupm Etteh, the Commissioner for Special Duties, had in an interactive session with correspondents in Uyo recently, said that the state government was shopping for investors for the project, adding that, about four investors indicated interest in the hotel, even as the state is considering due diligence to engage one.

Etteh, who denied allegations that the project was stopped because it had a structural defect, assured that in the next two or three months, an investor would be considered to take over the completion of the project.

Etteh said: “A suitable investor will be chosen after due diligence is completed. The state government is shopping for an investor that would be able to sustain the hotel once it kicks off.

“You have to be sure where you invest your money. Currently, we have three to four investors that are interested in that hotel. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCEC), is one of them.

“You know the Nigerian climate, it is not easy for someone to bring his money and come and invest in a particular project. The person will also do due diligence to find out, is the state government owing a contractor, is the business viable?

“A lot of investors have been coming but the onus is on the government to choose the one who would be able to invest and sustain that particular business.

“In the next two or three months, we have an investor to the hotel. We are doing due diligence to choose an investor that we know will handle the project.

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“The due diligence of that building was done by a reputable company in Nigeria called ETR and Partners Consulting Engineers, there is no defect in that building.”