OBANLIKU NEW TOURISM RESORT: A GOVERNOR’S UTOPIA, A PEOPLE’S WASTE

BY Agba Jalingo

Recently, the Cross River state Commissioner for Lands, John Inyang, delivered N45million to two communities, Amunga and Busafong in Obanliku LGA, northern Cross River in exchange for their lands.

The N45million was paid as compensation for the land the Ayade government has acquired to build what the governor calls a ” World Class Resort And Tourism Consort” in Obanlikwu LGA. Busafong Community forfeited 44,000 hectares of land for N20million while Amunga forfeited 77,000 hectares of their land for N25million.

But what is curious to yours sincerely here, is the well known fact that the same Obanliku LGA is home to the famous Obudu International Ranch Resort, located only a few kilometers away from the 121,000 hectares of land now acquired for the construction of another resort by governor Ayade, when the existing resort which this same governor emasculated can be resuscitated and brought back to its peak patronage.

For the records, the Obudu Ranch Resort is spread over an area of over 40 square miles (100 km2) and rises to about 5,200 ft (1,584 metres) above sea level and its peak reaches a height of about 1,716 metres (5,630 ft) above sea level.

According to research work, ” _Patronage of Ecotourism Potentials as a Strategy for Sustainable Tourism Development in Cross River State”, (Aniah Ejah and Otu 2009), in 2001 after former governor Donald Duke refurbished and rebranded the resort, it received 1,231 local visitors and 253 international visitors. That figure grew steadily to 3,074 local visitors and 536 international visitors in 2003 when Duke ended his first term. Year 2007 when Duke’s reign ended the ranch hosted 14,467 local visitors and 4,922 international visitors.

In 2008, when former governor Imoke was in his first year, the ranch received 16,843 local visitors and 6,727 foreign visitors. Between 2001 and 2008, the ranch got a cumulative total of 65,341 local visitors and 18,161 international visitors and was host to the Obudu International Mountain Race, which was already on the calendar of the International Mountain Race Federation and was contributing substantially to the state GDP.

By 2012, according to another research work, “An Assessment of the Employment Structure in the Tourism Industry of Obudu Mountain Resort” (No. 1 Vol 9, 2012), which gave a breakdown of the occupational distribution in the ranch, there were 52 staff in the food and beverage department, 10 receptionists, 102 security personnel, 4 tour guards, 20 managers, 10 laborers, 8 waiters, 2 chefs, 12 laundry staff, 28 house keepers, 8 gardeners, and 12 accountants, totalling 268 staff.

The research work also found out that conditions that attracted visitors to the ranch include climate/weather, scenery, availability of facilities and popularity of resort. That was when the ranch resort was still managed by trusted global brands that could draw patronage both locally and from across international borders.

This resort has now been relegated to a government reserved guest house meant for state government officials to retire to anytime they want to relax. They gather themselves and their friends, families and acquaintances and go to the ranch to sleep and enjoy without paying and return to Calabar when they like. Facilities and hospitality at the ranch are at all time low and government intervention and take over of the ranch from private managers has nearly killed the resort.

And those who killed that beautiful, natural spot are now talking about acquiring land to build another resort just a few kilometers away from the existing one. Just like governor Ayade is hallucinating about another airport in Obudu when he has failed to make the air strip on the ranch in the same Obanliku LGA functional, he is now deceiving the Obanliku people again and by extension, Cross Riverians that he wants to build a resort.

What is wrong with continuity in this government? Does governor Ayade thinks he is a monarch who will spend all his life on the throne or what exactly is he feeling like with all these endless projects he keeps promising everyday he steps out or can he stop going out once and for all if he can’t stop promising?

These issues continue to come in torrents and the government seem totally confused.

Yours sincerely,
Citizen Agba Jalingo.

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