Last week, I was in Calabar for a client’s assignment following which I decided to visit Tinapa Business Resort. On the way to the resort, the driver told me and my partner that the Tinapa dream is as good as dead. He couldn’t be further from the truth.
We walked through the stores, stalls, malls and halls – all were empty except for few that still have stuffs in stock to sell. The water fountains were turned off and security officers didn’t bother to check the booth of our cars since there is nothing to steal in the city. Without doubt, the Tinapa Business Resort is dead.
On my flight back to Lagos before finally heading to Ibadan, I began to ask myself what went wrong with Tinapa and what Ibadan could learn to ensure that the spate of economic development is sustained.
I found out the major reason the project failed was because it was ideated, planned, championed and completed by the government – a politically elected one for that matter. According to economists, the government has limited roles to play in the economy – at best, it should only create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and not get involved in building major structures like Tinapa.
“When you are not Dubai,” I told myself while considering the fact that the government of UAE is the one championing most of the major projects in the country which led me to thae second reason – lack of continuity.
This is a major reason why there are so many abandoned projects across Nigeria, Oyo state and Ibadan. A government may come in and be interested in developing healthcare, the next may be passionate about the economy. When this happens, the former’s projects if uncompleted are abandoned and if completed, they may not be well funded.
So, the best thing that could happen for economic/business projects such as Tinapa is to leave it to the business community since they are more stable and directly involved. The best the government could do is to give them the policy support they need and other kinds of non-engaging support that would not be a form of commitment for subsequent governments.
In Ibadan, the Trans Amusement Park is a perfect example of such. What is the business of the government in running an amusement park? A private enterprise ought to run that. Akala did the right thing but the incumbent decided to cancel the deal… Story for another day.
To a large extent I think the Oyo state government understands this and is limiting its involvement. None of the malls in the state is owned by the state government which is a good thing which means they will still be here long after the governor, and their performance will not be judged by the attitude or interests of the person living in Agodi Government House.