A former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, says the country’s low infrastructure development should be blamed on lack of continuity in governance.
Duke stated that over the years, each government in power had failed to build on what was started by their predecessors but would rather begin new projects.
“Each government wants to have its own project. This remains the bane of infrastructure development in Nigeria. No government is interested in continuing from where the other left off. That happened to Tinapa,” he said.
Duke, who was represented by Mr. Omoruyi Edoigiawerie, as one of the speakers at the recently held Greenspring Group’s Made in Nigeria Conference in Lagos, said the vision behind Tinapa was to make Cross River State self-sufficient.
He stated, “Upon assumption of office in 1999, Cross River was adjudged one of the poorest states of the country. The agenda was to attract traffic through tourism. But we will continue to be apostles of infrastructure development as against personal and individual aggrandisement. We want structures to be in place that will outlive individual tenures.
“A couple of efforts is being made by the present administration to keep the place going but there’s so much we can do. It is currently working at a far lesser capacity than its original capacity. It was supposed to be everything anyone can want in terms of business, leisure, entertainment and tourism. It was built to be a reference point in the entire South-South.”
He added, “Cross River is a state that has a potential of welcoming people and Tinapa was designed to become the arm of that tourism effort. We have nine flights coming into Calabar every day; the target was for three million people to come in every year with its multiplier effect. That was what was envisaged.
“While we had a million people come in December for carnival, Tinapa was supposed to increase that number all year round. If these three million people spend an average of a N100,000, we will be looking at N300bn and with the multiplier effect it could be almost a N1tn. That was the vision.”
Duke said for the country to improve on infrastructural development, efforts should be geared towards promoting continuity in government.
The Chief Executive Officer, Interior Woodwork Limited, Mr. Odunayo Emasealu, said the government and people must pay more attention to local production to grow the country’s economy.
“It is important for us to be entrepreneurs at this time. Once we are not producing, then we are not developing as a country,” he stated.
Emasealu said if the country must industrialise, there must be continuity in government, while the citizens must be ready to pay the price for development.
“The time has come for Nigeria to be made but we must accept some level of quality until the process evolves. The country is gradually moving towards where it should be and Nigerians should move towards this direction too,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer, Greenspring Group, organisers of the programme, Mr. Peter Nwaochei, noted that the Federal Government’s Executive Order on local content development had given boost to both manufacturers and indigenous firms to reposition the Nigerian economy.