Tinapa: Sweet dream gone sour
The story of Tinapa, an ambitious tourism enterprise initiated by the former government of Donald Duke of Cross River State is the story of a sweet dream gone sour. The project which has gulped about N100 billion is in the throes of an N18 billion debt which has forced the incumbent governor of the state, Senator Liyel Imoke, to consider selling off the enterprise.
Aside the huge debt overhang, the project is said to have crippled the economy of the state with civil servants being owed salaries in some months. A source told Political Economist that Imoke had contemplated discontinuing with the project as it was eating deep into allocations from the federation account. “The Duke government must have overestimated the lucrativeness of the venture…At the moment, it is being run at a loss and the only option left is for the government to invite external investors through divestment of some of its interests”, the source said.
Thus worried by the huge debt strain on the economy of the state, Governor Liyel Imoke has begun the process of privatising the enterprise, popularly called Africa’s Premier Resort commissioned on April 2, 2007 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
To bring to reality the privatization process, Imoke has forwarded a Bill to the State House of Assembly seeking approval for the government to hand over its shares in Tinapa to the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) as a prelude to its final privatisation.
In a letter accompanying the Bill, Imoke said the purpose for which Tinapa was established has not been fully realised due to numerous challenges, despite series of efforts by the state government to make it succeed.
The letter stated that AMCON will inherit the N18 billion debt as well as other assets and liabilities of Tinapa.
The governor said AMCON is expected to inject N29 billion to revive business activities in Tinapa before inviting the private sector to takeover majority shares in the outfit.
House of Assembly Speaker, Larry Odeh, who read the letter on the floor of the House, said the step adopted by the governor is in the best interest of the state, as it would get the economy of the state on the right track.
The speaker said the lawmakers would give necessary attention to the Bill and ensure that their decision would be in the best interest of Tinapa and the state’s economy.