I had the misfortune this morning of wading through a long epistle to the world by Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information on why the Udom Emmanuel administration has left the 4-star Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene to rot- three-and-a-half years after the current government in the state came into office. Though the hotel was built by the Godswill Akpabio administration, it belongs to Akwa Ibom government and people.
Charles Udoh, information and strategy commissioner, argued with aplomb and vibrated with the excitement of a researcher that has just found a cure for the sickle anaemia, that the reason for abandoning the hotel that was commissioned for use by the last government is that there was no franchise agreement with the owner of the Sheraton brand. No argument or decision can be more ludicrous. This is the lowest low for a most inept government ever. It’s time we had adults in the room!
Let the people stay with the argument, without conceding, that there was no agreement with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, owners of the Sheraton brand, before the hotel was commissioned, would that be a justifiable ground for abandoning the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene? Definitely no! A routine administrative matter involving a little paperwork and minor financial expense in payment for the use of the target brand name can never be acceptable reason for a government that came into office on the promise of continuity to abandon a multi-billion naira investment that was designed to further strengthen the economic fabric of the state.
See how unthinking this government is! Here is a platitude-mouthing government sounding big on obsession with the industrialization of the state, yet paradoxically turning its back on support infrastructure for an industrialised state. This is the most disarticulated, aimless, directionless pathway to development by a boardroom guru and a business school veteran of a governor.
A little background to the Four-Point by Sheraton Hotel which uninformed critics have purloined as investment that was not well thought out is key here. The hotel was designed as part of a cluster of infrastructure that was to be used to open up the state for investment and economic development. The design included the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Federal Road, which was intended to end at Agbor Hill, Aba in Abia State and the International Terminal Building of the State Airport, as well as its cargo hall and the MRO. The idea was that the constellation of these facilities would open up the state for international and big-ticket local businesses that would require the services of a top-flight hospitality industry.
Therefore, a government that came into office promising to continue and complete ongoing projects was expected to get on with the job and not fish for excuse to abandon its responsibility and walk away from its election promises. The Udom Emmanuel administration’s attitude to the hotel is simply typical and all too familiar.
It is the same attitude that the governor has sadly displayed with regard to other projects in the state, be it the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road; ongoing projects at the state airport, such as the international terminal building, the MRO, the taxiway and the failure to ensure that the cargo wing of the airport sees light of the day; the Tropicana Entertainment Centre and other projects. After all, previous governments in the state had met ongoing projects and completed them. The state airport that Udom Emmanuel is enjoying today is one of such projects.
Rather than bandying lame excuses about, Commissioner Udoh should simply accept what is obvious, namely, that Udom Emmanuel simply does not care and is not working in the true sense of it. Le Meridien Ibom Hotels and Resort, Uyo, which was built by former Governor Victor Attah, has gone into a disgusting state of disrepair. Is that because the hotel has a franchise agreement dispute or it was not completed? Ibom Hotel is in disrepair today because Udom Emmanuel doesn’t care.
What about the case with Akwa Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo? Why has Udom Emmanuel abandoned the hospital? The reason is simple: This deacon of Qua Iboe Church returned from Lagos to execute a most unpatriotic and criminal agenda of under-developing the state which other heroes of our past toiled day and night to build.
It is clear, given this laughable, hair-splitting argument over franchise agreement that Udom Emmanuel has run out of excuses for his historic failure. The point is that Governor Emmanuel has set a global record in lack of capacity to execute amid superabundance of resources. Rather than inflict further insults at Akwa Ibom people about his chronic governance failures, this man should tell us what he has done with more than N1 trillion of the state and local government allocations that have accrued to the state since he was rail-loaded into the Hilltop Mansion.
Has Udom forgotten that Akpabio completed some aspects of Le Meridien Hotel and Resorts built by Victor Attah? Why are Akwa Ibom people not asking him why he reduced the hotel from a five-star status to a local hotel? Was Aka Road not abandoned but Akpabio built it because the road leads to the home of his former boss- Attah? Was airport not abandoned but Akpabio built and completed it to preserve Akwa Ibom money and provide employment for our sons and daughters?
Let Udom Emmanuel not forget that he was the Secretary to the State of Government during Akpabio administration? During that administration Akpabio was a governor not the Chairman of Finance and General Purposes Committee (FGPC), the powerhouse that awards government contracts? If Akpabio put N25.4 billion in the hotel as alleged by the commissioner for information, is it now that Udom wakes to realise the contract sum of the project? Are Akwa Ibom people aware that Governor Udom is the chairman of FGPC since the inception of his administration three years and three months ago? Who will he account to at the end of his tenure?
Today, Udom feels he can play tribal card, whip spurious sentiments and play Biblical Pontus Pilate to win the next election? No amount of excuse-spouting press statements and adversarial publications can save his government from being routed and sent into a well-deserved place in Akwa Ibom Hall of Infamy.
Ekperikpe wrote from Uyo