Residents and visitors to Enugu metropolis may never come to terms with the abandonment of Enugu Hotel Presidential, renowned as the ‘Pride of the East’, during the eight years administration of former Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State.
Built after independence as part of the defunct Eastern Government’s industrialization plan created under the late premier, Dr. Mike Ihuonuka Okpara, which was later bequeathed to the state after the first republic,the gigantic 100-room edifice has become a grazing field for cattle and household animals.
Situated close to the three-arms zone housing the Lion Building, seat of government, the hotel, which used to be a tourist centre, yielding impressive revenue as of the time of former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani,was abandoned by the Chime administration, leading to its present decrepit state.
With a unique mesh of recreational and lifestyle elements, the hotel was a popular destination for Nigerians and foreign visitors. Back in the days when the hotel was open to the public, it offered 100 rooms on four floors with recreational facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and a nightclub considered among the best.
Reports had it that the Chime administration had planned, with a team of private investors, to transform the former pride of eastern Nigeria, through a concession granted to E-Hospitality Services Limited,EHSL, expected to gulp N4billion renovation.
Enugu-based lawyer, Ray Nnaji, last Thursday, in a chat with Sunday Vanguard,alleged that the Chime administration sold the hotel even as he renewed his demand on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,seeking the former governor’s prosecution.
When Sunday Vanguard visited the hotel, which is approximately 15 minutes drive by car from the Akanu Ibiam Enugu International airport,it was discovered that it has become a grazing field. This was even as all the doors,windows, window frames and other fittings have been carted away. The hotel would have played a key role in facilitating business and socio-economic activities across the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones.
Unconfirmed reports say the immediate past administration granted multiple concessions to investors at the twilight of its tenure which are now subject of litigation as claims and counter claims are made in a desperate bid to possess the once prestigious hotel which stood as the symbol of the old Eastern Region.
Chime sold it – Nnaji
Nnaji renewed his demand on the EFCC,seeking Chime’s prosecution over the alleged sale of the hotel. Nnaji,a former National Auditor of the People Democratic Party,PDP,said he was losing sleep following the decrepit state of the hotel.
During the chat with Sunday Vanguard, a crest fallen Nnaji said: “It is no longer news that former governor Chime sold Enugu Hotel Presidential. I had petitioned the EFCC over this matter and they have not done anything as regards investigation. The place has been dilapidated and turned to a grazing reserve following its abandonment.
“The hotel should have been generating revenue in form of Internal Generated Revenue,IGR,for the state, especially now that there is crude oil glut at the international market.
“Enugu people are losing in the employment they are supposed to source if the hotel was functional. We must not keep quiet on this financial malfeasance as he and his associates sold our collective patrimony. The revenue generated if the hotel was functional could have been channelled to infrastructural development that will alleviate the suffering of the people.
“Go round Enugu,you cannot point to one functional state-owned company as a result of Chime’s eight years mal-administration. The result is what we are experiencing now as the revenue board is over-taxing individual businesses because the state is not buoyant. That is because there is no revenue from companies like Hotel Presidential. Apart from the fact that he sold the hotel, he could not develop it.
“That was the same thing he did with Enugu International Conference Centre, ICC. The place was sold until this present administration came in to salvage the rot. The ICC could have been giving the state at least N1 billion annually in form of revenue apart from employment. But he has sold everything and the state is hanging on the balance now”. (Vanguard)