Amidst concerns on the abandonment of the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Complex, the Akwa Ibom state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has promised to bring back the project from the brinks. The governor enumerated the plans he has for the completion of the project, while interacting with worshippers during one of the monthly prayer sessions held at the government house, Uyo recently.
The governor decried the criticism that the project has generated against his government and attributed that to general misunderstanding of the circumstances of the state of the project, vis a Vis the state of the country’s economy. He stated that the state of the economy has ensured that the project cannot be completed by government on its own.
The governor indicated his plan to lease out the project to prospective investors on a lease-and-buyback basis.
“They also talk about the Tropicana. There is recession! We can’t manage Tropicana. I am going to do that place now on a lease and buy back basis.
“I think we have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding. What do we need? We need facilities in the state. So I am going to lease out that place. We lease out the place and they will complete it and the place will be running”, the governor said.
Governor Emmanuel added that “People will (build) and run that place, but they will give me money now. I will use that money to do something else. Whenever they run it and take their money, we take back our asset in the future.”
He stated his reason for considering the lease option; “I will do it on a lease and buy back basis because if I tell you how much I still need to complete that place… it is not what to talk about under this recession. And I cannot afford it.”
The governor described his recourse to the lease as one coming out of a well thought out business acumen. He said, “So your business ideas, your business ethics must come to play. And that is what I know how to do best, and I have to do it.
“I am going to lease that place and we will start with the hotel. Once we sign, they will give us money and we will use that money to develop more assets.”
In September 2008, the contract agreement for the then N33billion complex was signed between the Akwa Ibom state government, represented by the governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio and the Silverbird Showtime Ltd, represented by its Managing Director, Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce. The complex has a land area of 128. 227 Square meters. It was originally designed to comprise of a 10, 000-sitter Dome, a 250-room Hotel, a cineplex, a mall, a theme park, an array of utility buildings, a multi-story car park and external work station.
Akpabio had then said that the project would ginger the economy of the state and provide jobs for 5,000 Akwa Ibom people. Murray-Bruce had on his own promised that a completed Galleria would be delivered with cinema in 12 months, while the hotel, the Dome and other facilities would be ready for commissioning in two years.
While late in coming, the cinema has since commenced operation, with Silverbird in charge. At the twilight of his departure, Akpabio commissioned the Shopping Mall on May 22, 2015. Till date the mall has not been put to any use.
Rather, Gov. Udom in a bid to put the place into use, performed the ground breaking for the “Uyo Shoprite” on the premises of the complex, on August 21,2015. At the ceremony, the Managing Director of Resilient Africa, owners of the 69-year-old retail chain, Mr. Holden Marshal promised to deliver on the project within 18 months, assuring that no fewer than 600 jobs would be created. Two years later, nothing has been heard of the project.
Even though facilities have been installed and commissioned in the theme park, complete with water and dry park facilities, the place is still in total waste.