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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Uduaghan, Where Is Our $317m Million Delta Leisure Resorts?

Uduaghan, Where Is Our $317m Million Delta Leisure Resorts?
By Lucky Onoriode George
Some years ago, the Delta State Government unveiled what it called, 'Delta Leisure Resorts', a tourism and leisure facility to be built at Oleri and Ogwashi-Uku, in Udu and Aniocha South local government areas respectively, but African Travel Times Magazine can authoritatively confirm that the projects have not been executed.
The project which was officially unveiled at the Event Centre in the state capital, Asaba was expected to gulp N49 billion [$317m] as part of efforts by the state to diversify its economy and cut over-dependence on oil.
However few months into the project, African Travel Times discovered that the supposed financier of the project, one Sarner PFM [Africa] was a non-existent company at the time the project was launched. This was the first hint that the project was a scam.
The colourful ceremony which preceded the long term investment project aimed at broadening the economy base of Delta state attracted both foreign and local investors, including the governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, who said he was in the state to support the idea of building a strong and sustainable regional economy.
Though, the ground breaking ceremony of the 'Delta Leisure Resorts' was performed by Prince Sam Obi, erstwhile Acting Governor of Delta state during his short stay in office after the annulment of the 2007 Delta governorship election by an Appeal Court.  
The project, according to the Managing Director of Sarnar PFM [Africa], Princess Abiodun Oyefusi, whom this magazine interacted with for several months and the Managing Director, Sarner UK Limited, Mr. Ross Magri, is a purely private concern with amusement parks, animal reserve, commercial waterfall and culture resorts to further boost the already improved socio-economic base of Delta state and provide good resources to the Nigerian economy.        
The project as it was then touted would be 'first of its kind in Africa' and have its main park located at Oleri village in Udu local government, while the animal reserve and wild park would be located at Ogwashi- Uku in Aniocha Local Government Area Council.      
Speaking then, High Chief Abel Ubeku, retired Managing Director of Guinness and Chairman of the investment group now late said , the successful unveiling and the state government's determination to allow genuine investors embark on the project clearly defines the infrastructure, human capital development and peace and security programme of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan's administration that can 'provide jobs for children today and yet unborn'.      
In a succinct keynote address presented by Delta state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, he reaffirmed that the state's development strategies are geared towards attracting investment opportunities and enjoined Deltans to show true commitment through support and encouragement rather than unnecessary criticisms.
Uduaghan who said the project would be West Africa’s first world-class resort when completed disclosed that the state government is partnering with African PFM Resorts Limited to develop an ideal place for vacation for families, friends and associates for relaxation.  
Also, Mr. Richard Mofe Damijo [RMD], renowned actor and Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Delta state who hypothesized that 'the equity built through tourism cannot be quantified financially' disclosed that the Certificate of Funding has been presented to Delta state government by the Board of sponsoring investors.    
The project which was expected to fully take-off in June 2011 and completed in December 2012 while the official opening will be in April 2014 at the twilight of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan's second tenure in office as at today is still at the level of sand filling.
After several months of  consistent and persistent media enquiries and faced with the fact that Sarner PFM lack the ability and the capacity to manage and fund such a huge project, African Travel Times magazine was taken on a tour of the location of the resort at Oleri by Princess Adefusi.  When she was confronted with facts, she opened up and pleaded for this publication’s understanding and support.
Despite attempts to sweet talk the publisher, who incidentally hails from Delta State hit a brick wall, the publication has had a running battle with Sarner PFN and the Delta State Government.
After several months of more thorough investigation and confrontation between this magazine and RMD’s office, they eventually succumbed and opened up that a resort was not going to be built, but instead that the location would be turned into a housing estate.
Authoritatively, African Travel Times Magazine can also confirmed that the Resort at Oleri that is still at sand filling level has gulped over N50 billion of state money. Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and RMD need to urgently tell Deltans where this money went.
As for Princess Abiodun Oyefusi, who used her relationship with the governor to terrorise the ministries of tourism, works, justice and even finance officials in the last four years, she must be made to account for her role in this huge scam.