Posted by From JOE EFFIONG, Uyo on
When Obong Chris Ekpenyong was impeached and later resigned as the deputy governor of Akwa Ibom state in 2005, many who knew him said it was just a matter of time before he would bounce back.
When Obong Chris Ekpenyong was impeached and later resigned as the deputy governor of Akwa Ibom state in 2005, many who knew him said it was just a matter of time before he would bounce back. Though he tried unsuccessfully to bounce back unto the gubernatorial seat of the state first on the platform of his original party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and later defected to the PPA in 2006, it seems he still has an ace off his socio-economic and even political sleeve.
That is beginning to unfold with the unveiling and inauguration of his hotel; the 2nd biggest hotel in Akwa Ibom state. It is called EEMJM Hotel and Suites. The name is somewhat complex is but the complex is simply amazing and has already brought relief to the state government which had hitherto relied solely on the state-funded Le Merridien Hotel in the outskirts of Uyo.
Governor Godswill Akpabio who performed the inauguration ceremony recently, spoke extensively on the need of the private sector participation in the development of the hospitality and tourism sectors of the economy.
Akpabio lauded Ekpenyong for the hotel which he described as a well thought-out innovation and pledged his support to assist the 3-star outfit to achieve its mission which is in line with government’s aspiration. He said the state was preparing to host an international beautify pageant in two year’s time as such the state was taking inventory of all the hotel facilities in the state to ascertain its preparedness to host the world event.
The governor was optimistic that with the zeal displayed by private entrepreneurs as shown by Ekpenyong, his administration would turn the state round in all aspects of its economy within the shortest possible time.
Ekpenyong popularly called Ukarakpa (anaconda) by his political associates, said on the occasion that the hotel was conceived out of his desire to fill the hospitality gap created by the fast growing economy of the state mostly in the areas of culture, tourism and hospitality. "Akwa Ibom is a state with latent tourism potentials which when it wakes up, would send jitters down the spines of other tourism-minded states in the country."
He said the Mary Slessor Tomb at Itu Local Government Area, the castle at Ikot Abasi, the blue and white river at Ukanfun among others were some of the many undeveloped tourism sites littering the state which also has the biggest shorelines and the longest stretch of coastline development.
"In putting together this hotel and suites, our intension was to help transform the hospitality sub-sector of the economy with primary motivation of providing hospitality resources of international standard for tourists, international business entrepreneurs and investors and also create a strategic partnership with the government and our collaborators for along term benefit,’ he explained.
The former deputy governor said what also encouraged him to go into the hospitality industry was the enabling environment which the state government had created for the private sector businesses to thrive in the state, mostly in the areas of good roads, water, power supply, provision of telecommunication and facilities for manpower training. The hotel is said to have so far created employment opportunities for Akwa Ibom youths in all facets of its operation as well as plans to develop another 200 rooms to boost his aspiration.
He promised to engrave the good corporate image of the governor and that of union Bank Plc, for their support toward the completion and commissioning of the facility, hoping that other commercial banks operating in the state will support the private sector operators to realise their dreams.
"We’ve climbed every mountain of despair, forded every stream of depression and followed every rainbow of hope, today; we stand tall like the seamen to herald the dim outlines of land in the horizon, to trumpet the dawning of a new day"
Delivering his fact sheets on the hotel, the principal consultant and general manager, Mr. Kayode Ikuomola classified the 70-room facility into one presidential suite, four diplomatique, one executive, eight business, and 34 deluxe and 20 classic rooms adding that all the rooms were elegantly furnished.