By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has resigned from his position as the Commissioner for tourism in the state.
Ayade stated this moments ago when he played host to a delegation from Mafikeng, north west province of South Africa who are in the state for a 3-Day working visit as both governments finalize plans for the twin cities partnership between Mafikeng and Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
He lamented that he has been focused on industrialization that he lost focus on some quick win ideas like the setting up of a floating restaurant at the Marina Resort.
Reacting to a suggestion by Advocate Neo Sephoti, the head of the tourism department in the North West Province of South Africa that the Marina Resort and School of Nursing be converted to an International hotel school with hostels while a floating restaurant will boost patronage due to the attractive nature of water, Ayade said that; “I am so blown away and taken aback by what the team from South Africa can unfold in just about two days.”
“I feel thoroughly ashamed as commissioner for tourism… I do recognize that at this point my Special Adviser on Tourism must be driven back into the front burner and possibly I have to disengage from that office as commissioner for tourism. I need to give it to somebody to give it the push, to give it the energy that is required,” Ayade said.
He later added; “Very soon the state will have the announcement of a new commissioner for tourism correspondingly, that gives us an opportunity to appoint a commissioner for infrastructure that has been outstanding.”
Ayade who said he has “thoroughly” learnt from Sephoti said; “I felt ashamed also as commissioner for tourism that I have so much wealth and I got so much engaged with industrialization that I didn’t realize that there are these quick cheap wins that I could take advantage of.
“Just imagine if we had started off the multi sanctuary, just imagine if we had actually turned Marina Resort, just imagine if we have actually had this floating restaurant, just imagine if we had triggered an opening in the twin island and Calas Vegas and have all of these happening already. Just imagine if we had cave restaurants like the rainforest restaurants that I see in Florida, I see in Orlando.
“Just imagine you take a boat across the twin island and you get yourself down somewhere into a cave fully air conditioned with huge African cuisine. There is so much that we could have done and we have just being busy chasing the bigger picture.”
Ayade who said his visit to South Africa had presented a challenge of siting the International hotel school said Marina resort was the right location as the current lease contract has elapsed. He promised the state will acquire a floating restaurant in three months.
“Cross River State, we have no hesitation whatsoever to partner with Mafikeng, indeed we have already signed a twin sister agreement between Calabar and Mafikeng. Cross River State is going to set up a state owned institution, a state owned company that is going to partner with you,” he said.