Despite a video making the rounds on how old students of the Federal Government Girls College (FGGC), known as Fedi-babes, were denied accommodation in a hotel in Owerri on the orders of the state government, which allegedly booked all rooms in all hotels in the state capital from the week preceding the state gubernatorial election, the Imo Hoteliers Association has denied that the hotels are fully booked and paid for.
There had been unverified reports that the State Government planned to spend N5b to book all hotel rooms in Owerri, to ensure election observers and civil society or officials of other political parties, other than the All Progressives Congress (APC), have no place to stay when they arrive for the election monitoring.
Angry old students of the FGGC in Owerri for the 50th Anniversary of their existence, were seen berating the Protea Hotel management for cancelling the reservations they made months ago. (See video of protest below):
But the Imo State Hotels Association Chairman, Mr Chima Chukwunyere, told journalists in Owerri on Monday, that hotel facilities in the city are open for prospective customers.
Chukwunyere described the memo locking down the rooms in hotels as “debilitating to the welfare of the hotel business in Imo”.
According to him, customers are no longer patronising hotels in the State since Saturday, November 4, out of the assumption that they had all been rented out and paid for.
“Sometime last week, there was a letter from the State Government to Directors and General Managers of hotels in the state requesting for reservation of all hotel rooms of all categories from November 4 to November 12.
“Captains of the hotel industry gladly received the information because for hotels to have full occupancy for such number of days means a miracle from God, which has never happened before and hotels have never received 60 per cent occupancy for a long time.
“But nothing has happened since then and customers are growing increasingly apprehensive about patronising us.
“We wish to state that all hotels operating in Imo are open for business. We, therefore, call on our customers to continue to patronise the industry,“ Chukwunyere said.
He pleaded with the State Government to ameliorate the effect of the financial loss suffered by hoteliers due to the memo by injecting funds into the tourism industry and also giving them tax rebate.
The leaked government memo of October 25, purportedly signed by the Imo Commissioner for Tourism, Mr Jerry Egemba, requested hotel owners in Owerri to make their facilities available for rent by the State Government from November 4 to November 11, for the governorship election date.
See leaked memo below: