Saturday, November 18, 2017

Who is to be blamed for the abandoned status of Four Point by Sheraton hotel at Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State


Update on the status of Four Point by Sheraton at Ikot Ekpene

ICMS, Inc Commentary
by Tom Okure, Ph.D
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Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom state is facing an economic development dilemma. He needs to establish his own foot print and legacy in the state by initiating and building significant development projects like roads and bridges, magnificent buildings, factories etc., while at the same time completing many famous and uncompleted projects that he inherited from his predecessor former governor Godswill Akpabio. Accusations have been mounting for some time now that Udom is deliberately abandoning many planned projects that the administration of Akpabio undertook like the Tropicana Plaza in Uyo, the dualiization of Uyo/Ikot-Ekpene Federal road, the multi-million dollar Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo etc.
In responds to the mounting accusations from critics of his development approach, governor Udom has begun a campaign to set the record straight. Recently, governor Udom during a recent briefing of attendees at the monthly state house prayer session emphasized to his audience that, what the former governor commissioned as a completed Four Point Sheraton was just the building, which does not amount to a hotel. But is this really the case? Many in attendance during the spectacular ceremony of the commissioning say they beg to differ with the governors assertion and statement to the extent that they witnessed what appeared to be a fully functioning hotel or were we deceived?  
Four Point by Sheraton hotel Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State
In his defense regarding the controversy and status of the hotel, governor Udom blamed those who are accusing him of abandoning projects started by Akpabio of not understanding the differences between a building and a hotel. He indicated that his administration needs an additional $7.2 dollars or about N2, 577, 600, 000 Naira at the current exchange rate, to transform the commissioned the Four Point by Sheraton building at Ikot Ekpene into a hotel.
For background, the Four Point by Sheraton building is located at the old site of the former federal prison, Ikot Ekpene which was situated in the heart of the city. The federal prison was demolished and relocated out of town to make room for the Four Point hotel which the city planners believe was essential to accord the ancient town of Ikot Ekpene a befitting image, facelift and boost it as a tourist destination enhancement within Nigeria deserving of its status as the first experimental local government area created by the British colonial government in Nigeria and West Africa.



On Tuesday May 26, 2015, the 4 Points by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene, was commissioned by the outgoing governor Godswill Akpabio. During the commissioning event, Akpabio showed off the spectacular building and its amenities to the invited guests which included the current Governor Emmanuel Udom who at the time was the governor elect and was awaiting to be sworn in as Akwa Ibom State governor. In his usual boastful way and while showing off existing facilities around the hotel, former governor Akpabio, who is now Akwa Ibom State senator had praised the contractors for delivering the project on time. 

Swimming pool area at Four Point by Sheraton at Ikot Ekpene,
The hotel is a 14-Story Oval shaped building, consisting of 146 rooms, 14 suites, a 600-seater banquet hall, six meeting rooms, swimming pool, terrace, fountain, a presidential wing, etc.
One may recall that in 2016, the Akwa Ibom State government had indicated that it had designated Starwood Hotels as the manager to be of this hotel. Government statements also indicated that the hotel would be fully open and operational by April of 2017. Starwood Hotels, we were told was the manager designate because of its experience managing hotels in Akwa Ibom State as exemplified by  the well renowned Le Méridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort in Uyo.

Former governor Akpabio (left) and current governor Udom (right) relaxing during
the commissioning of the hotel in Ikot Ekpene on Tuesday May 26, 2015. 
While responding to his critics who have accused him of abandoning the Four Point by Sheraton building in Ikot Ekpene, governor Udom said that he needs “7.2 million US dollars to turn that building into a hotel. And as at today, I have deposited the sum of 4 million US dollars, leaving a balance of 3.2 million US dollars and I am still looking for the 3.2 million dollars to pay so I can turn that building you see into a hotel. It is not yet a hotel."

Recommendation and Concluding Remarks

Part of the problem of abandonment and incompletion of projects in the state and many parts of the country stems from the existing approach used to fund large capital projects. The state government lacks proper long term capital planning foresight which should be incorporated into the capital budget of the state government.  The state government fails to build into the government capital budget for projects a contingency budget to accommodate unforeseen circumstances (like the fall in oil revenues) as has been experienced throughout the country. In industrial countries in Europe and the United States infrastructure projects are funded from dedicated funding revenue streams (mainly through the issue of dedicated bonds issued for a specific project). In New York State budgeting many specific programs and projects are funded through what is referred to as Special Revenue Funds (SRF). Initial funding for specific infrastructural projects can begin by issuing specific capital bonds guaranteed by the Federal government as a debt to the state. When the specific bond funded project is completed, it could be utilized to generate specific revenues to repay the long term bonds associated with the project.  
Read more about Four Point by Sheraton at Ikot Ekpene:

4 Points Sheraton Ikot Ekpene: Akpabio- Commissioned Building Not Hotel
Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State Nigeria

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