By Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

Cross – River State Government yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that introduces a trade fair to the annual Calabar Carnival.

The aim of the Mou the government said, was to position Calabar as a major trade hub and revive the Tinapa project through introduction of trade fair that was expected to increase the internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State up to N5 billion.

The State Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpeyong who signed the document on behalf of the State Government with management of Tinapa Business Resort and Cliqit, an e-commerce business management and development platform said, that ‘where Tinapa is today is not the idea why Tinapa was conceived’.

According to him, “We have gone to the blueprints, we have identified those issues that prevented Tinapa from going where it should be and we are trying to tackle those issues with a fully detailed plan.”

Ekpeyong while speaking to Journalists shortly after the MoU said, “I have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Tinapa, Calabar in Cross-River State, to introduce a trade fair to the annual Calabar Carnival and Tinapa through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV); the Calabar International Trade Fair (CITF).

“The trade fair/Calabar Carnival is expected to increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state up to N5 billion, introduces up to 15, 000 jobs and 10, 000 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and empower people of Cross – River state with skill acquisition, go-to market strategies and ultimately contribute to the development of the state”.

Mr. Ekpenyong, who has been on the management of Tinapa for about a month said his team had identified most of the challenges that inhibited the full blossoming of Tinapa and were ready to tackle them.

“One of the ways we think we can do that is, having an international trade fair, something that would be around the period when Cross-River would be at its peak in terms of travelers. That is the week of the Carnival in December”.

“We have chosen that date for obvious reasons in terms of the influx of people and Calabar which should be a major trade hub isn’t where it should be, so, we have partnered with Cliqit. They will be bringing their experience and capacity in driving trade traffic to Tinapa and we will provide the resources”.

The Commissioner asserted his faith in the success of the project, saying there was no infrastructural platform such as the Tinapa Business Resort in the whole of West Africa.

“This platform; Tinapa Business Resort has the capacity to host a lot of trade and businesses and we are trying to use this opportunity of the CITF to showcase the resources Tinapa has and I believe that come December 2016, we will put on a great show and something that will be worthy of repeat year-on-year,” he said.

Speaking in similar vein, Founder/CEO, Tinapa Resort Management/Cliqit, Mr. Gerald Konwea described the project as a history making venture which was why the Guinness World Records was involved.

According to him, statistics provided by Cliqit, indicated that the project was also expected to increase the IGR of the state significantly from N12. 7 billion to N14. 9 billion yearly by 2016 – 2019 and an additional N2 – 5 billion from 2020 onwards.

Konwea noted that the project would also provide gainful employment for up to 7,000 and 15,000 by 2023. “This can be achieved through skill acquisition programs, SME empowerment and support activities and instituting Calabar as a major trade hub in the region by reviving the Tinapa project”.

“Calabar is one of the safest cities in Nigeria. We will be partnering with all the security agencies and with services from the Nigerian Police Force all the way to DSS to ensure that we provide a safe and secure environment for the hosting of this trade fair.”

He however added that, alongside the trade fair, a one kilometre red carpet would also play host to media bodies from around the world, journalists, celebrities and the government.