Tinapa, Customs and the Federal Government

2 Comments » July 1st, 2008 posted by // Categories: General Articles

Brothers and Sisters:

We keep talking about the Niger Delta issue. We talk about actions to show the people that we care. However is an example of where the people have proactively helped themselves and the nation (by diversifying their economic base) and yet they are being held at ransom by the center.  Giving Tinapa the same status as Dubai and Hong Kong is one of those actions we want to see take place. Yes the summit will help but actions will are need now to help. This is a “low hang fruit” give it to the people.

God Bless Nigeria!!!


“Tinapa, Customs and the Federal Government

SINCE attaining nationhood four decades ago, Nigerians have dreamt of the day when their country would join the league of industrialised economies in the world. At various times their governments at all levels have upheld this dream and have launched numerous development programmes and projects which have, sadly, faltered on the altar of planlessness and corruption, and a patent lack of commitment or political will. In consequence, the nation’s landscape is littered with numerous abandoned projects; eternal beacons to the failure of our collective aspirations. One such project, which we hope and pray will not join this list of shame, is the multi-billion naira Tinapa Tourism and Business Resort in Calabar, Cross River State.

Tinapa was conceived by the forward-thinking and the visionary former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, as the first integrated business and leisure centre in Nigeria. The project exploits Calabar’s strategic location as the link city between the West and Central African sub-regions, to give investors the opportunity to exploit the huge market potential of the two sub-regions. Modelled after similar resorts in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Bombay, among others, Tinapa is expected to become an investors’ haven that also provides opportunities for visitors from within and outside the country to combine commercial activities with leisure in a well-integrated and attractive environment. The goal is to make Calabar the ultimate hub of wholesale and retail commercial activity within ECOWAS.

In line with this objective, Tinapa is expected to provide international standard wholesale emporiums, integrated shopping complexes and product distribution outlets, along with business tourism and entertainment facilities. The project also incorporates a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for investment opportunities, which grants it a Free Trade Zone Status. This implies that investors in Tinapa would be granted some exemptions from taxes and customs duties, along with other benefits that are often associated with Free Trade Zones.

The fact that the Calabar Free Trade Zone is just next door to Tinapa points to a lack of co-ordination among the various federal and state government agencies in charge of the two projects. The lack of co-ordination and forward planning has been the bane of most projects in Nigeria and it is therefore not surprising that Tinapa appears to have become another victim of this typically Nigerian malaise.

No one appears to have given much thought to this potential problem when actual construction of the state-of-the-art-facilities covering over 80,000m2 of space began in January 2005. After an expenditure of over N45 billion, the first phase of the project was commissioned with fanfare in April 2007 by then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Unfortunately, not much has happened since then, except the millions that the sponsors continue to expend on advertisements in the international media to create global awareness for the project.

Essentially, the project has been caught in a bureaucratic web of intrigue and, some will argue, sabotage, with the unfortunate possibility that the investment might go down the drain, along with the dream of its sponsors. The problem appears to be between the Minister of Finance and the Comptroller General of Customs, which is rather strange considering the fact that the Ministry of Finance supervises the Nigerian Customs Service. In any case, it appears that the Minister and the Comptroller have disagreed over the issue of exclusive operational guidelines for Tinapa. The Minister presented the new guidelines to the Federal Executive Council for approval, only for the Comptroller to counter that if approved, the guidelines would run contrary to existing import policy that prohibits retail sales at the resort centre. The President is reported to have ordered the Minister and the Comptroller to harmonise their positions.

Meanwhile Nigeria continues to lose an estimated N219 billion to Dubai due to the federal government’s inability to resolve the bureaucratic wrangling over procedures for Tinapa. Reports have also appeared in the media of a conspiracy by certain business and geopolitical interests in the country to kill the project. Investors invest their resources to make profit and are easily discouraged if their investments idle away while bureaucrats fight tuff battles over procedures. This situation should not be allowed to continue.

The country has wasted huge resources in the form of abandoned projects that litter the nation’s landscape. Tinapa must not be added to this list. Although Tinapa is sponsored by the state government and private interests, it should be seen as part of the federal government’s plan to transform the country into one of the 20 leading economies by 2020. Within that spirit, the bureaucratic in-fighting that has spelt the doom of similar laudable projects in the past should not be allowed to stifle the dream of Tinapa. Tinapa must be allowed to work.”

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2 Responses to “Tinapa, Customs and the Federal Government”

  1. john Okafor says:

    Ogbulafor Weeps for Tinapa
    From Ernest Chinwo in Calabar, 07.05.2008

    The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor has said that it is unfortunate that federal bureaucracy may ensure the Tinapa Business Resort goes to waste despite the billions invested in the project.
    Ogbulafor, at a state dinner hosted by the Cross River State Government for members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) during a two-day retreat in Calabar, said he wept after a tour of the resort.
    He said the PDP is prepared to negotiate with the appropriate authorities to ensure that operational guidelines and protocol are released for Tinapa Business Resort to commence operations.
    He said the party will make spirited efforts to ensure that Tinapa can generate revenue for the state and Nigeria because of its economic potentials.
    He added that his economic adviser would be directed immediately to see how the project could be enhanced to achieve its vision and expressed hope that in the next few years, another such landmark project would emerge.
    He congratulated the state government for conceptualising the project which he noted has the capability to impact on Nigeria and the West African sub-region.

    Ogbulafor expressed his delight at the beauty and serenity of Calabar and commended Governor Liyel Imoke as well as Cross Riverians for making the State the cleanest in the country, adding that every member of the party should be committed to ensure that PDP reigns in Cross River for 60 years since the party has recorded immense success. He explained that the Seven Point Agenda of the party is very endeared to all Nigerians as it will expose and expand knowledge to all for the party to grow and that with its retreat, the national officers are armed and refreshed with vigor to render more service to Nigerians. Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State in his remark, said the party, which was greeted with skepticism in 1998 has aggressively grown to capture all electoral posts in the State except two councillorship seats in the last elections. Imoke added that the State Government enjoys the support of the people because of the tremendous cooperation which it receives from the national headquarters of the party. Imoke pointed out that the programmes of the State Government are reflective of the party’s ideals and manifesto, and is determined to deliver its mandate as a Government which does not believe in lip service, but action that will affect the people positively in many ways. He said the State intends to grow and improve on its economy to become a destination in Nigeria, Africa, and has the determination to make the PDP proud of Cross River

  2. nf5kmw1 says:

    PDP Moves to Save Tinapa -Thisday

    National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, and members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) yesterday drilled Minister of Finance, Dr Samsudeen Usman and his Ministry of Justice counterpart, Chief Michael Aaonndokaa, over Cross River State Tourist Centre, (TINAPA).
    Also yesterday, Ogbulafor refused to grant the request of Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel, over the sack of one of the kinsmen of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Tunde Osholake, as Ogun Central Senatorial District Chairman.
    THISDAY gathered that Ogbulafor and members of the NWC were not happy at the delay in execution of the TINAPA Tourist Project.
    According to the source, the party was not happy that after huge investments, the federal executive bill was yet to be forwarded to the National Assembly, to enable the Project become functional.
    Sources said Ogbulafor charged the ministers to ensure how the TINAPA Project would be functional as soon as possible, as it is one of the veritable sources of foreign investment into the country.
    Responding, the ministers told Ogbulafor that they would table the party’s request before the Federal Executive Council.
    On Osholake, Daniel said following the impeachment of Honourable Titi Oseni, as Speaker of the state House of Assembly, who is from Odeda Local Government Council, the people agitated for balancing, as they had no other representative in government, and party office.
    It was for this reason that the party in the state recommended that Osholake be relieved of his post and given to Odeda.
    He also warned that unless the new zonal re-arrangement is approved, PDP in the state may collapse by 2011.
    But Osholake’s supporters said they are not afriad of his being removed, but since he was elected through the congress, he should be removed through the same congress.
    In his response, Ogbulafor commended Daniel’s initiatives in the state, adding that the party cannot act on his request until it hears from National Vice Chairman for the South-west, Alhaji Oladipo Tajudeen, who he immediately summoned to brief the NWC on the crisis.

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