The Comptroller in charge of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states Command of the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS), Mr. Yekini Atoyebi, said he was dazed and wept on the first day he visited the Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort complex in Calabar.
He said he wept because of the waste and desolate state of facilities at the Tinapa, which ought to have been a huge business hub in Africa.
Atoyebi spoke at the Government House in Calabar when paid his maiden courtesy visit on the State Security Adviser, Mr. Rekpene Bassey.
He said he could not imagine how such gigantic infrastructure could be lying desolate in the country.
“When I went there some people in my entourage said I was crying louder than the bereaved, but to me, I could not imagine how such a gigantic infrastructure would be lying desolate when in some places such infrastructure could be bringing in revenue that can keep a state running for months,” he said.
The Comptroller urged the state government to do everything within its reach to ensure the resort functions.
Atoyebi stated that the Customs had to intervene when operators of the resort started subjecting the policies and privileges operational in the place to manipulation and reckless abuse.
“There is need for a stakeholders meeting among all the parties in Tinapa including the manufacturers, the business operators, management and Customs so that each will clearly understand its rights and privileges for a successful operation of the place,” he said.
In his response, the State Security Adviser implored Atoyebi to ensure that officers and men of the command were vigilant by ensuring that the Nigerian Inland Water Ways Jetty was not importing items used in the production of explosive devices by terrorists.
The jetty berths vessels from neighbouring countries like Cameroon Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Bassey also appealed to the Federal Government to give customs the needed equipment and incentives to do their work effectively.
“I understand that the Customs generate income next to oil for this country and in my view it is necessary for the geese that lays the golden egg to be fed with golden feeds so the Federal Government should provide you with the necessary equipment and take good care of your welfare too,” he said.
Tinapa was initiated by former Cross River State Governor Donald Duke as a way to boost business and tourism in the state. Over $350 million (about N58 billion) was spent on initial development of the project.
The first phase of Tinapa Business Resort & Free Zone, Calabar, was commissioned on the 2nd April 2007.
Tinapa is a 10 kilometres drive from Calabar by a roundabout route, but the Federal government is building a more direct 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) access road to link it with the city.