Okezie Ikpeazu’s Willingness and ACCIMA’s Weakness to Develop Enyimba Hotels – By Jude Ndukwe
There is no hiding the fact that since assumption of office, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, executive governor of Abia State, has demonstrated unwavering commitment to partnering with good spirited investors to attract investment into the state and move it to the path of growth and development.
Such commitment can be seen in him as he talks about the Abia brand via the “Proudly Made in Aba” campaign everywhere he goes. He is so passionate about anything that would attract both local and foreign investors to the state, knowing full well that such investments would have multiplier effects on the state and its people.
It is such commitment that saw the governor flag off the reconstruction of The Enyimba Hotels, Aba, with so much enthusiasm, pomp and circumstance with the hope that the hotel would serve the need of providing first class accommodation and leisure to the cream of both local and foreign investors being recently attracted to Aba in droves as a result of the governors drive to internationalize “Proudly Made in Aba” products.
However, nearly two years after the hype that heralded the flag off of the reconstruction of the hotel last year, work is yet to commence at the hotel which occupies a prime location by the Aba river, Ogbor Hill, in Aba. This development has continued to leave many including the governor of Abia State sad and frustrated as investors brought in by the Aba Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ACCIMA), the body that bought over the hotel from Abia State government several years ago, are yet to mobilize to site despite its promise to complete the hotel 18 months after the flag off of reconstruction took place in August 2016.
Consequently, the enabling environment which the governor created for the smooth take off of work there has been left to come to nothing. Having expended state resources to evict miscreants, criminals and illegal occupants in the now decrepit hotel building that has been standing uncompleted there for 38 years now, those urchins have since relocated there and continued their unholy businesses, all because those brought by ACCIMA as investors have not shown any iota of commitment to the project since they signed the agreement to reconstruct the hotel.
This is really a sad development because Ikpeazu had thought that the hotel would bridge a gaping gap between investors thronging Aba for business and their accommodation and leisure needs.
At the flag off ceremony for its reconstruction, the governor had said “What is happening today is dream come true because Aba is known for many important and strategic things in trade and commerce, especially in small and medium enterprises.
“What we lack is a befitting five star hotel within the environment and landscape of Aba. This huge gap has militated against development and the presence of high profile investors in this land because we understand that no billionaire would like to invest in a place where he cannot pass the night”. That, sadly, is true!
In order to meet these needs as enumerated by the governor, the hotel is expected to be remodeled to have its rooms increased from its 105 standard rooms to 141 rooms with 4 presidential suites, banquet Hall of 1000 capacity, including swimming pool, hospitality School, staff quarters, club house and dredging of the Aba river and creation of an artificial sand beach.
The plan to dredge the Aba river around which the hotel is located is to give businessmen and tourists the opportunity to enjoy boat ride from the location of the hotel, down to Azumini Blue River. Over two decades after taking delivery of the hotel, the Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, is yet to add even a grain of sand to the hotel reconstruction drive leaving it to lay waste and frustrate the initial dream government had when the imposing edifice was handed over to them.
Rather, ACCIMA has by its neglect, refusal and or failure to reconstruct the hotel provided a safe haven for criminals and kidnappers who have since turned the place to their base where they keep kidnap victims and from where they negotiate for ransom.
This unfortunate turn of events should no longer be allowed to continue as government expenditure on security is avoidably further stretched by the nefarious activities festering there. This is in addition to the fact that the reconstruction exercise alone was expected to attract a whopping N6bn direct investment to Abia State while the hotel on completion would provide 250 direct and about 2,000 indirect jobs to the state thereby reducing the unemployment burden of Abia.
Since ACCIMA has proved for close to 30 years now that it lacks the basic capacity and even the required willingness to revive the moribund facility, common sense dictates that it should withdraw and surrender its ownership to an Abia State whose current governor has demonstrated more than enough commitment to see through the revival of the hotel because it would really not only boost the image of the state by placing her on the map of one of the states in the world with upscale hotels but also a destination attraction for tourists from all corners of the universe, thereby bringing scarce foreign exchange into the state and boosting its economy in the process in no small way.
This has become necessary so that the jobs that are badly needed by our people would be provided and criminal activities in the state would largely reduce as those using the place for their crimes under the guise and subtle tag of illegal squatters would be forced to relocate even outside the state.
The time to do this is now! All well meaning Abians must rise to the occasion and call on ACCIMA to cede ownership back to government under agreed terms as it goes without saying that holding on to the ownership of a property they lack the will and ability to develop for about thirty years when the State has a governor ready, willing and able to do it, is not only selfish but also does not make any economic sense.
ACCIMA should save Enyimba Hotels from total ruins and do the right thing now!