My Free Advice For The Cross River State Government BY PAMELA BRAIDE

In Akwa-Cross Entertainment, Business & Economy, Columnists, Opinion
Pamela Braide (Photo: Facebook/Pamela Braide)

I am paid well to strategize but here is my free contribution on the directionless hubris highlighted by an ill thought out re-branding exercise to mark Cross River at 50.

So, how would one celebrate Cross River at 50 if the State is really actually 50? Put the current brand, Destination Cross River cap back on and realize that first the place must look and feel like a DESTINATION to show off.

Secondly understand that this can be FUNDED BY SPONSORS.

Thirdly it is not a one day or one week red flag hoisting (the new branding is red) logo launching money wasting event. Changing our State colors from blue to red and our slogan from the all encompassing Destination Cross River the people’s paradise to (the) weak “Spirit of Enterprise” is the least of our problems as the push back from citizens has shown.

Fourthly such a milestone involves everyone in every Local Government, every sector and strata of society. It will boost the local economy for a whole YEAR AND BEYOND!

  1. Make next year’s Christmas Festival a Cross River at 50 theme and leverage on the time people come home and SPONSORSHIP.
  2. During the Festival make sure its star event, the Carnival has the “at 50” theme.
  3. Make all Festival events honor the same theme. Bring back the boat regatta… Engage school kids, artisans, everyone
  4. Spend ONE YEAR planning and getting SPONSORS for 2018. We already have linkage with sponsors because many aspects of our Christmas Festival have had or have corporate sponsors.

It is easier to push this in Cross River than any other state except maybe Lagos. Cross River State Government, get your act together, coordinate all your clashing SA’s and SSA’s, and WORK.

Why does a tourist destination aim to spend money on an anniversary it can make money from? The Destination Cross River brand is beyond a logo. See how trying to kill it by replacing it with your new red bull logo killed creative thinking?

  1. THEME EVERYTHING NEXT YEAR. Children’s day on 27 May etc. New Yam festivals? THEME THEM!
  2. Do ONLINE Cross River State at 50 activity, simple competitions, online exhibitions, use online groups. Engage people. No be to shout digital Governor while being ANALOGUE.
  3. Stop harassing the National Museum and do what Cross River State Government normally does. COLLABORATE to create a yearlong open exhibition on Cross River State at 50. The same Old Residency Museum being harassed, helped Cross River State set up its slave museum.

Today, the State has decided they are a security risk and arrested visitors in March. Work with all our tour circuit, Hope Waddell included. Can you imagine having old boys from a 127 year old school come to Cross River State for a special day? The rooms, transport, food, souvenirs sold? But instead the Governor is locked in battle building a private structure on their land without consent.

  1. Clean Cross River State. Make it safe, pay staff salaries and entitlements, pay Local Government workers, and motivate people to work.
  2. Abolish all the new taxes destroying the very businesses that make up the Cross River State economy. If there is no money to fund the states inexplicable 13 NEW ministries created in 2015 or pay nearly 3000 political appointees then please do not kill LOCAL businesses with all sorts of new taxes to source funds.
  3. Everything is interconnected. We cannot celebrate anything as a crime ridden, dirty location without water where businesses are stifled by one new official tax a day and workers are owed and not given even the most basic of running costs to work.
  4. Boost our eco-tourism assets! Instead of chopping down forests bring in visitors: National Geographic, Discovery Channel. CERCOPANis shutting down and in this hostile environment the Drill Ranch Pandrillusmight soon go after 30 plus years! Fix our canopy walkway which was the longest in Africa.
  5. FIX/UPGRADE EXISTING ACCESS ROADS instead of mowing down everything to build one super road that won’t interconnect our communities or major roads. Build rural roads! Bombard communities with renewable energy hubs! These can be achieved in mere months rather than a 10 year super highway dream (with zero funders) churning 3 rejected EIAs of such embarrassing quality even a year one student would be ashamed.

FINALLY, Cross River State actually has a Tourism Bureau, it has institutionalized its tourism operations including a Carnival Commission. Everything including HIV/AIDS prevention has all tourism players mainstreamed in operations. But they have been effectively crippled with appointments of all manner of duplicate SA’s and SSA’s running at cross purposes without being able to create ONE yearly tourism calendar after 2 years.

We have altered and even dropped past events. Lost sponsors, lost direction. Our tourism assets and officials are unable to maintain the most BASIC presence on social media.

As the naira weakened and local tourism is exploding other states have followed our early light that we have abandoned. Ogun has a drumming festival, Lagos has another Jazz one that headlined Donald Duke, Yankari Game reserve and the Bauchi Governor promote online nonstop. There is a new race in Delta and the Lagos marathon. Our Obudu international mountain race covered by SuperSport with corporate sponsors that ran for 10 years died in 2015. Its old facebook page Obudu Ranch International Mountain Race is still up as a testimony. We were ahead of our time but have regressed to a stone age.

Boat regatta, gone. Children’s Carnival, gone. Coordinated plans for showcasing pop culture, craftsmanship, cuisine… gone…

If we have a bone of seriousness people who invested their life savings in Destination Cross River by way of hospitality, logistics, service and other businesses should have been part of a stakeholder plan or calendar in the first one year of this administration.

At this point it is too late. All they can demand for is a sane operating environment while they make what they can out of this. As it stands tour operators that sell tours to the Obudu Ranch have had to make refunds and apologize for substandard experience. Hoteliers spend so much on extra security. I will leave out the horror stories. It is that bad.

Even our diaspora have a role to play. SO MUCH TO DO. Is this really rocket science? Seriously? I made it clear to a Cross River Government Event Aide I was a guest with at radio show in Calabar last year that they needed to #WAKEUP! Cross Riverians are shutting down and leaving the place in DROVES.

MY FREE ADVICE. Dear SA’s and SSA’s and SSSA’s and DG’s feel free to copy and paste. I won’t charge you a kobo. I love my state too much and I am so heartbroken!

Pamela Braide is a Communications and strategy consultant, curator of fine goods, writer and musician

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