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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Thursday, April 05, 2007

At the commissioning Of TINAPA

Pix: Kaine Bode George, Adebayo Jones, Florence Ita-Giwa, Remi Osolanke (Remi Lagos) and myself
l really should write a Bridget Jones like diary, l returned two days
ago from the long awaited opening of the much-publicized TINAPA
business and leisure resort in Calabar, deaf in one ear and coughing
my guts out. A case of wrong diagnosis or fake drugs or both.
I should not have gone as l had caught a bad flu on the eve of my
departure but l bought into the hype and felt that I’ll be missing
something if l did not go. Plus l wanted to meet my friend Pamela's
mum Professor Eka Braide the Vice Chancellor at the university. The
professor, bless her did not disappoint, a woman the way they don't
make them anymore, intellectual, dignified without vexatious piety,
resourceful, nurturing and hospitable. None of which can be said about
the arrangements for either the so-called Calabar Fashion Week, the
Nigerian Movie Awards and to some extent the commissioning of Tinapa

The fashion week was a really a tacky exhibition in a porky little
room and a shadowy fashion show in a passageway at an unimaginative
boat club set in the most gorgeous body of water. Even the attempt to
take us to TINAPA by boat from the club with full military and police
protection and hardware took 70 minutes for a 20 minute ride, the boat
broke down twice, had to be changed, then broke down again. The
business resort opening began with the rude accreditation and card
verification process at entry and the disruption of the order of the
events such that we were kept waiting in the admittedly huge, well
organized and cool hall for almost five hours before the president's
arrival. By the last speech, l led the mutiny at one of the food
serving points as my blood sugar plummeted to zero.

The TINAPA project is no doubt audacious and visionary and Donald Duke
must be commended for even attempting it against all odds especially
given the lack of performance of other governors in the region with a much fatter resource bank. However, l am concerned as to how functional
it will be in its locale. Aside TINAPA itself the traditionally clean
and hospitable Calabar lacks the number and quality of hotel rooms to
be attractive. The idea of a localized tourist haven within a country
without a defined tourism agenda or policy, very poor infrastructure
and formidable security challenges seem unsustainable to me. It might
be doable if the visioner is there to steer the course in the first
few crucial years but Donald Duke would cease to be governor of Cross
River state in the next few weeks. The successor in the wings l am
told is his ally and shares his vision enough to actualize the dream
but if that happens it will be going against the grain of all l know
about Nigeria and politics. Is Liyel Imoke not the man who as minister
of power declared that even with billions of dollars in lifeline
Nigeria will not have constant and stable power for another 50 years,
hardly visionary nor revolutionary thought there. Besides l am yet to
see the Nigerian politician who is non egotistical enough to happily
actualize another politicians' vision.

TINAPA is maybe about 70% completed, the 300 bed hotel is still being
built, the mono rail is not yet built, the port on course and the
Nollywood complex is nearing completion but this to be used by who?
The idea of TINAPA is based on its being a free trade zone, a duty and
tax free haven where international goods can be bought cheaply in a
touristy haven with entertainment and culture on offer. However, both
the president and the minister of commerce did state clearly that they
expect that most of the goods traded will in no time be locally
manufactured. A joke really considering how the continual decline in
infrastructure, power and assess to non-incestuous capital has
strangulated manufacturing and enterprise in the past few years.

As a free trade zone with functional facilities and easy mass
transportation, TINAPA can work; l would love for it to work and
perhaps the private sector participants will ensure this. Even with
only internal tourism, the number of Nigerians who will be persuaded
to buy international good and products cheaply for resale or
consumption is considerable and there is a large enough expatriate
community and middle class adventurers who might be attracted to a
secure, fun, entertainment and shopping destination within Nigeria.
Any attempt to alter that will kill the TINAPA dream. As per the
Nollywood studio (is the gorilla stature at the entrance a reference
to the Neanderthal state of our movie industry?) it will no doubt make
a cheap production venue for foreign movie and TV producers. As per
Nollywood practitioners, unless the use of the studios is free l don't
see how they can use the facilities effectively without a committed
engagement from the financial sector. Even if they get the money to
use such facilities, pay huge artists and professional fees, buy
better stories and build immressive film sets to produce better
quality films, what about the challenges of promotion, distribution
and piracy, which will erode the potential profit from such huge
invested capital. Once again we are back to the issue of basic
infrastructure. The ability to move large numbers of people, goods and
products all over the country. The generation of power effectively
and constantly, sustaining industry at every level and the ability to
guarantee lives and property. These are the building blocks of

That said, l commend Donald Duke for this courage. He was calm and
gracious during the chaotic ceremonies and spoke eloquently and
convincingly. My only grouse with him was when he started to frown and
fidget during the lacklustre fashion show at the dramatically non-professional and unimaginative Nigerian movie award. This when a couple of models came out in transparent REMI LAGOS caftans with only their tongs on beneath. The only artistic and exciting part to an other wise dull fashion show. Maybe it was because his young daughters were in the audience (children under 10 should not have been at a show
that started at midnight anyway, did he hear the lyrics of konga and other such explicit songs being played?) or because of his lovely but obviously conservative wife (conservatives don't go into core fashion, music, entertainment and sports business) but he was frowning for Africa. My mischievous mind is wondering, why doth thou protest so much? It's a fashion show, bare flesh happens, its art, lighten up.

More Pictures here


Omodudu said...


Anonymous said...

I love you, You actually get your readers thinking...... thats how you know a good writer. With all said we still in Africa..... Calabar is actually doing something to their city better, i wish Lagos could get into things like that, that would be to lovely.

Jumoke Giwa said...

Hey, sweety. Thanks for this candid review of the commissioning of Tinapa. I had written a preview about it last year and had also written about the commissioning last week on my blog. Thanks for your objective analysis of the resort. I do wish Duke well and hope the resort adds some value to our country and its people. I'm rooting for you, babe! Keep them all on their toes. Love you tons!

bukky said...

Hi Funmi,how are you and morenikeji? here i am again to let you know that i admire you alot.I have become an addict to your blog and website though i have no regrets.I just hope you will reply my mails and if not...Just keep the good work going.

racquelle-cutie said...

i absoluely love ur blog and i'm a big fan of your programme,i always watch it when i'm in nigeria.I think you are probably the best dressed female nigerian celebrity,your dress sense is totally awesome and i also believe that you are a good role model to us younger naija girls cos you are out there doing your thing and you also do a lot of charity work unlike some shady top soceity women that donate 500 naira to the poor,then call all the tv stations in nigeria to witness their "good deed"


Nigerians have vision, but we lack that sustainability factor. With the decadent state of affairs in Nigeria, one always wonder if such a magnificent project will not end up as a colossal failure.

Kiibaati said...

Methinks Tinapa is theorectically a great initiative but it should focus on trade and tourism.Considering that the other freetrade zones in this country only exist on paper, I guess the guvnor has started something commendable.

However, I dont think providing studios for the film industry is part of government business. It will just rot like the National Theatre etc...Also, private sector invlovement is necessary to make tourism work otherwise, the boats will continue to breakdown.

Maybe Tinapa should be taken to the capital market and the film studio should be sold to Transcorp. That way, private sector profit motive can make it work.

Just my 2 cents...

ladybrille said...

Funmi, quite a pessimistic report you have there and in contrast with the positive glows I have heard from persons on the ground regarding the Commissioning of the event, including infrastructure specific to Cross River. Pressed for time now but will return after I re-read and think about some of the statements you've made. Take care of you. It's becoming a bit common to read that you are under the weather.

funmi said...

@ all, l'd like TINAPA to work, l have no ego issues with being wrong, l would like to be made to eat my hat (-: but l also speak my mind. l was on ground, unpaid, and happily unpatronized as such my views are uncoloured and true to my own experience.

@kiibaati, l do agree with you. As with all forms of business and industry, if government just focused on providing infrastructure in areas of power, mass transport, security and education. As well as well thought out/articulated, non self serving and stable policies, a lot of these things would fall into place. l dont know about transcorp sha o.

@bukky, thanks sisi mi for the love. l have only one email from you and l have replied it, maybe my people don irrest the others, no vex l beg. Also, we are a little puppy organization with a lions heart so we are often overwhelmed. stay with us whatever we set out to do we do, only its often a slow painful growth process.

@ jumoke giwa, one day we will be able to put our talents together for something bigger, one day. Big hug.

@racquelle-cutie, sometimes those women are misrepresented. in any case each to his own, much more important is how you are going to be one of the great and good in ur spirit, person and work as proclaimed by non pychophantic others. cheers.

Chude! said...

actually ladybrille, the less said about the positive reviews by people on ground the better, because sadly, most of those reports, if you take a second look - apply neither rigour nor depth. Tinapa is a fabulous idea; it's 'execution' however is another matter. Jeremy Weate on naijablog wrote another 'pessimistic' report some one month ago in fact. The event itself, even worse - this also from people also on ground.

However, this is not to detract from Governor Duke's admirable effort - at least in his state we have something to talk about!

Ladybrille said...

Took me that long to get back to this issue. After 2wks of being in trial back to back and still e no dey end, [wo]man pikin had to chill b/4 I revisited this topic. I am extremely passionate about the fashion issue. I do agree after seeing photos on www.purefoto.com that the fashion production and garments could be stronger. Regarding infrastructure, tourism e.t.c. point well taken but I still believe Calabar for its size and its vision for Tinapa is definitely ahead of the game when compared to other states such as Lagos. The excecution of the Tinapa project is indeed a legitimate issue but I prefer to stay optimistic based on several reports I have heard and seen from friends visiting the State; and until I personally visit to draw my own conclusions. This interview with Donald Duke by Newswatch also gives me a lot more optimism. You might want to reference it http://www.newswatchngr.com/editorial/allaccess/special/10830133552.htm. By the way, we do have something in common, "speak[ing] [our] minds."

renie said...

funmi, finally someone who shares my thoughts on this tinapa project. i raised similar issues during a recent get-to-gether in London and was met with blank stares. My questions we'rent answered instead i was accused of being an insufferable realist. i was the only girl in the midst of older men but I wouldnt put it down to sexism, just ego. lol.
as a marketer, even the branding baffles me. what on earth is a business leisure resort???

Moose said...

great read -- thanks!

Camil said...

Tinapa is a great idea from a great mind, let's not put out the flame with our own mouths, we should speak blessings into the project and into the lives of those who sacrificed the comfort of their families to commit themselves to this dream come true. Dubai started out like this and the arab-world today is still benefiting from that project, this is NIgeria's one and pmly chance to show the world that we are truly "the giant of africa". Funmi, God bless you for letting us here in Canada know how far.

Nothing but love,