Uyo’s new attraction

Uyo is a city on the rise: Its grand roads, brand new flyovers and rare to find long underground tunnel that takes floods out of the city centre into a sewage on the outskirts, making it a truly modern city.  Its e-library has also been adjudged the best so far in the country.  To boot, a mini-city is springing up within the city with work there nearing a completion stage. That is called Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre.
A recent tour around the premises showed that massive construction work is going on in different segments of the multibillion naira entertainment centre which is designed to comprise not just a six-screen Cineplex, a five-star hotel, wet and dry park, conference centre, but also a large shopping mall.
Already, the Cineplex part of the entertainment centre which opened about three years ago has become a beehive of activities, where movie goers and pleasure seekers have turned their second home, especially during weekends. Besides, the entire Ibom Tropicana as a civic centre has become an attraction for school-age children learning through field experience in addition to their classroom coaching.
So last week, when students of the Federal Science and Technical College, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State showed up at Ibom Tropicana for excursion, the manager of the cinema within the Cineplex, Ake Inyang talked with the passion of a manager. He had a dual task of a manager.  He wanted to help the children learn a few things about the place and he wasted to inspire them to greatness.
Inyang surely knows his onions. He started first by impressing the students with their own fascination.
“We are talking about an outdoor centre where children can go to play, and adults can also go there to play. If you have been to Tinapa in Calabar, you would understand what I am trying to say. When we talk about the wet park, it is going to be made up of speeding boats, joy rides, and all kinds of fun games that relate to water. It is all about entertainment with games that have to do with water.  And then the dry park would be made up of every of those fun things that you find included in children buildings, there would be a merry-go-round, there would be all kinds of fun games. It is driven at getting people out of their house, come out and entertain themselves as a family,” he said.
That expectedly aroused the interest of the visiting students about everything within Ibom Tropicana and one after the other they asked many questions that helped Inyang to reveal more about the centre.
He talked about the convention centre saying, “Convention centre, when it is completed, would be the largest conference hall for conventions in Nigeria. It would have a capacity of 1,800 persons in one of its hall, and it is made up of about three conference halls. And it has facilities to translate 250 world languages, so that somebody from China can speak in Chinese, and you can still hear what he is saying. The person would just pick up an earphone and glue it to his ear, and whatever anybody is saying would be translated. It is a drive to bring the world here. When it is completed, we would be able to host the United Nations. We would be able to host FIFA, and any international conference. So, in a nutshell that is the entertainment centre. Hopefully, all the facilities would soon be ready and completed.”
To impress the students further, he said: “Having to build something like this is not easy. It is a huge project. You cannot finish something like this in three months. And I am sure that you can see that work is going on everywhere. It would take a while. But you see, government has been so kind to allow operation of the Cineplex while other works continue. The cinema is something that appeals to a whole lot of people. So many of us buy all these pirated CDs which you watch once or twice and it is damaged. But the government was kind enough to say, let us put a cinema in place. If you go outside Uyo wherever there is Silverbird cinema, you will find that we don’t usually open a cinema alone, we always have shops that are there beside it – we don’t stand alone. But the government has been kind enough to say, let us not wait until everything is complete. If the cinema is completed, why allow it wait until the others are ready. So they had an agreement with my group. And we came in and said we can start up the cinema pending when every other place would be functioning. That is why, for now, it is only the cinema that is functioning. But I can assure you that, before long, the others would also open.”
“We do not have facilities for reading in the cinema. The cinema is just a place where you come and watch movies. But you see, inside this cinema, we have tried as much as possible not to make it just about watching movies.  I am sure that there is going to be a library, but it might not necessarily be a large, conventional one. It could be only for research.
So the government of Akwa Ibom is trying to encourage families to bond together, whether indoors or outdoors. So, the government is trying to make you understand that after all the hustle and bustle of life, you can always find time to come out, spend time with your family, relax and have fun-time. And that is why business traffic here on Saturdays and Sundays is always high. The summer vacation is just over, so if you were here then, you would see a lot of children here. So, generally, business has not been bad. People are learning to adopt the entertainment culture.”
For Utibe Iseh, the teacher who led the children on excursion to the centre, starting with such move on a week students were returning to school provides an inspiration that would aid learning in the classroom. “They will remember what they have seen on the field and that will continue to inspire them. We wanted to make sure that their brains are assisted to respond to learning in a special way,” she said.
On a recent visit to the state after going round Uyo to observe uncommon transformation that is taking place there, the President of Ghana, Dr. John Mahama said: “I am impressed by what I have seen so far. Africa is changing and is transforming. We are experiencing positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) compared to the 80s when the economies were contracting-growing negatively. Africa needs a new leadership to grow into development. You cannot have growth without transformation. It takes leadership to bring about development. Akwa Ibom is a good example of good leadership style.”
And Godswill Akpabio, the Akwa Ibom State governor responded in the affirmative. “Every inch of our land drips with opportunities for investment. Join us in the management of the wet and dry park at the Tropicana Entertainment Centre, or in the management of the Convention Centre and shopping mall.”
Accordingly, Aniekan Umunah, the state commissioner for information said: “That the new Akwa Ibom State is ready for best investors in Africa, Europe, America, Asia, Australia and elsewhere is not an overstatement. The readiness is matched with real action on ground. We are ready for investors.”
With its gorgeous exterior and the fabulous interior, in the weeks ahead when the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre finally reaches its completion stage in its entire entirety, then it would surely be a rendezvous for kids and adults.