The Cross River State Government recently advertised five State-owned properties in National Dailies for concessions. The five include:
- Cross River Bagging Factory, Calabar.
- Groundnut Oil Mills, Bekwarra.
- Maize Flour Factory, Obanliku.
- Fresh Fruits Factory, Obanliku.
- Transcorp Hotel, Calabar.
Now let me explain something to you. Pay very keen attention, please.
First and foremost, Governor Ayade’s only target on that list is number five, TRANSCORP HOTEL. All the other four are phoney names and a smokescreen to give flesh to the newspaper adverts and make it look like they followed the procurement process as required by law.
There is no industry in Obanliku. The Bekwarra oil mills are not functioning. The so-called bagging factory isn’t working. The only thing that has life on that list is Transcorp and let me explain to you how Ayade wants to take it over.
- Three months ago, Governor Ayade got his exco to approve the buying of Transcorp hotel by the State Government for N2.7 billion. Cross River State sold Metropolitan Hotel, now known as Transcorp Hotel, in 2005 to the Kingsville group for N200m. Since then, the hotel has been running at a loss by the successive owners till date and that was what Governor Ayade paid N2.7 billion State Government money for, just three months ago. Did our State need a hotel?
- That deal was cut during the intense cash crunch period. The N2.7 billion was paid CASH! In case you didn’t read that, I say the money was paid in cash. Guess what that means by yourself. It’s the cash that was stashed somewhere that was used to pay.
iii. The governance of the newly purchased hotel has not even been handed over to the State government. Till now, the State hasn’t been told the content of what we bought for N2.7 billion. And the governor is already listing it as one of the properties to be concessioned. The seller is the buyer. Spare me!
- Remember the governor’s last attempt at concessioning his industries, he listed more than 18 of them. That attempt failed and the Governor openly wrote a press release saying Cross Riverians had rejected the idea in a referendum. At what point did he choose to return to the idea? At what point did the industries reduce to five? Why didn’t he conduct a referendum this time?
- Whether you believe me or not doesn’t matter. But I repeat again that Governor Ayade only wants to take over the Transcorp Hotel. He needed to use government money and acquire it and take it over in the name of concession. The other four names on the list do not exist. They are a decoy.
That is the disaster we have had as a governor. A primitive acquisitionist whose taste for grabbing is unassailable. His 2,922 days in office suddenly became 52 days to go, and the clean-up appears to be total. Like a child that he is, he wants to fill his chest with as many candies as will last him in retirement.
Citizen Agba Jalingo is the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, a Cross Riverian, and writes from Lagos.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.