Just barely one week after President Muhammadu Buhari called off a much-hyped visit to Lagos State, he equally dashed the hopes of Cross Riverians as he shunned the commissioning of the much-publicized Monorail and Garment factory projects in the state.
And as in the Lagos instance, no reasons were given for suspending the president’s visit to commission the two legacy projects alongside his wife, thereby causing some embarrassment to the government and people of the state.
Had the number one citizen honoured the invitation, it would have been his second visit since he came into office, because on October 10, 2015 the president honoured Governor Ben Ayade’s request on him to visit and perform the ground breaking and flagging-off of construction of the controversial Calabar super highway project.
Preparations were in top gear to ensure a successful commissioning as work on the projects continued round the clock in the past few weeks till yesterday, when it became obvious that the event would no longer hold.
Last Thursday, the State Commissioner of Information, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, while presenting a paper titled, “The Future of Tourism in Africa: A Case Study of Cross River State”, at the just concluded conference of Africa Public Relations Association (APRA) at the Calabar International Centre (CICC), announced that the president and his wife were no longer coming to commission the projects.
APRA members had earlier frowned at the poor facilities at Lakeside hotel, Tinapa, and the wrong use of the picture of former governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, in a brief documentary branding the state’s tourism potentials at the conference, instead of that of the incumbent, Senator Ayade.
They also queried why participants were not allowed to use the monorail, which was touted as one of the tourism brands that influenced most participants to lodge at the Lakeside hotel, Tinapa.
While apologising for all lapses noticed, the commissioner noted that “Cross River State gets very little in terms of allocation, whereas, other states have over N9b or more”, saying that that affects a lot of things that ought to have been done.
On the Monorail, Mrs. Archibong explained that it was not yet open to the public, adding that only a test run was carried out in preparation for commissioning last Friday, by the president, who she said sent a message that he was no longer coming due to some unforeseen circumstances.
The monorail project was conceived by the previous administration of former Governor Donald Duke to run from the Margaret Ekpo International Airport to Tinapa and the rails were procured, but the Senator Liyel Imoke regime changed the plan given the huge financial outlay, thus rerouting it to run from the CICC to Tinapa.
Imoke had commenced the actual construction of the 1.5km rail and procured the trains, but Ayade came in and completed it, while the Cross River Garment Factory reputed to be the biggest single floor garment factory in the world with a floor size of 5,000sqm has employed 3000 Cross Riverians, mostly women to start work in three shifts.