Tinapa, the Cattle Ranch, International Convention Center, Monorail, Airport Bypass and many more. These are all products of an economic development paradigm dominant among policy makers in Cross River State in the past 16 years.
The thinking is, these massive investments will create jobs, establish Calabar as tourism Capital of Nigeria, and improve the general well being of the people. Is there any possibility that this economic paradigm that believes, massive capital investment on projects that have succeeded in other climes, should automatically succeed in Cross River State.
Is it possible these assumptions are wrong? is it possible these economic assumptions are mere wishful thinking? Is it possible human capacity development and investing in the micro economy vis a vis project delivery and success may have been overlooked?
Is it possible that we may have overlooked the role and development of a societies productive forces in national development and how it relates to projects of this nature?
To what extent are our productive forces developed to take advantage of these capital projects or is our productive forces so underdeveloped for these projects to be meaningful to our people?
Are we biting more that we can chew or are we putting our money were our mouth is not? Is it possible that Ben Ayade may have bought into this economic thinking? Will Ayades economic framework further sink our state into debts, approximately over a Trillion Naira at the end of his tenure or his policies will get us debt free and back to economic growth?
Donalds Legacy was Tinapa, the Ranch and Carnival, Imokes legacy is the Convention Center, Airport Bypass, Monorail, Wilmer, Songaii and IMT Ugep. What legacy does Ayade have in mind? With this lingering debt, if Ayade would need to build his legacy, will it also be on capital projects plundering the state into more debts or will he decide to invest in the lives of the people directly through projects that will boost their human capacity and financial well being?
Cross River State, are we better off today than 16 years ago? what significant economic difference has these projects created in the lives of our people? Is it further possible that financing long term capital projects with short term loans may have been a grave economic mistake?
Is it possible that Bankruptcy or mortgaging our natural forest reserves may be the only bailable option and following this part may also be a bigger mistake? How different will Ayade be from his predecessors?
Will he have the political will and administrative capacity to tolerate opposition and listen to those who disagree with him or will he shout down on any dissenting opinion? Will he rule the people or will he provide leadership?
Virtually all capital projects in the state are not sustainable. Tinapa is dead and may never resurrect, if the federal government represented by AMCON project execution history is anything to go by.
So one wonders the usefulness of a monorail from a center with no activities and no vision to build upon. The ranch is dying daily for lack of activities and the cottages are slowly falling apart.
The Calabar Carnival is slowly loosing momentum, the Convention Center and Monorail if successful which I doubt, are too elitist for the average Cross River Indigene to understand or appreciate the relationship between these projects and his day to day life.
If Ayade must embark on any Capital project, extending the Monorail to Calabar city and to Calabar South maybe the only viable project that an additional loan maybe tolerated.
While the Convention Center maybe a laudable project, the energy and other utility consumption cost required to run the center, can it be generated independently from activities within the center or will it end up being subsidized from the states meager resources?
What amount of visitors and tourist activities do we expect to boost the convention center from a state with no passable federal roads and an International Airport that receive an average of two to three flights daily?
Is it possible we may have been operating on a faulty economic development paradigm?
Will Ben Ayade be his own man from day one or he will be an appendage of the establishment?
Being his own man will imply stepping on those toes that made him, being an appendage means it will be business as usual.
How did we get here and what are the best economic options to get out of this mess?
Princewill Odidi is a United States based Project Management Consultant.
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