By Codratus Godson
Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bonny Kingdom and Julius Berger Nigeria Limited (JBN) for the reconstruction of the Bonny Consulate Building, a 19th century historic landmark in Bonny Kingdom.
The MoU was signed in Bonny by NLNG’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Tony Attah on behalf of the company and JBN’s Managing Director, Dr. Lars Richter on behalf of JBN in the presence of the Amanyanabo of Grand Bonny Kingdom, His Majesty, King Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III, JP, CON, Perekule XI.
The MoU signing follows the foundation stone laying ceremony which was part of the NLNG’s 30 years of incorporation and 20 years of production anniversary celebrations in 2019.
The building is a partnership project between NLNG, JBN and Bonny Kingdom.
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, Engr Attah stated that NLNG was pursuing a vision of a Bonny community that will be likened to Dubai in terms of tourism and economic activities, He added that the Company is resolute in achieving its dream of upscaling the prominence of Bonny and helping to make it a major investment destination.
“We believe firmly that restoring the historic colonial antiquity which portrayed the economic significance of Bonny Island to the British colonial masters, will elicit tourists’ interest and the community can also reap from the economic benefit of tourism,” he said.
He added that the building was part of the company’s sustainability CSR projects in the Kingdom which includes its N60 billion commitment to the building of the Bonny-Bodo road that will connect the Island to the mainland and state capital as well as the Bonny Community Health Insurance Programme, a project to promote good health on the Island.
On its part, the Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Ltd, Dr. Lars Richter stated that JBN was proud to be associated with this noble project of restoring a historical landmark in Bonny.
The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) is set to begin what is regarded as aggressive eco-tourism scheme after it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bonny King and his chiefs.
The Managing Director Tony Attah who signed on behalf of the NLNG at the weekend expressed the desire of his company to deepen its involvement in the development of Bonny Kingdom in synergy with the Bonny Kingdom Development Foundation (BKDF). He appealed to the Amanyanabo and king of Bonny to allow the multinational to go beyond the Consulate Building to unleash the potentials of Bonny Kingdom through the foundation.
The building, which is a joint corporate social responsibility (CSR) project by NLNG and Julius Berger, on completion, would replicate the look and feel of the old Consulate building and would house Bonny FM Radio Station, office of the King of Bonny, a library, a museum, a café, a movie hall, and a seminar/exhibition hall. There would also be a souvenir shop, plus offices for those who would manage various aspects of the facility.
The MoU signing follows the foundation stone laying ceremony which was part of Nigeria LNG’s 30 years of incorporation and 20 years of production anniversary celebrations held late in 2019.
The Consulate Building, which was the seat of British colonial administration with a district commissioner and other administrative offices in 1897, is being reconstructed to restore the memory of the ancient artifact.
In his keynote speech, the king of Bonny, Edward Asimini William Pepple (111), admitted that the MoU would propel the construction of the consulate building, which he said has the potential to drive the much expected and needed diversification of the economy of Bonny kingdom through Tourism.
He said: “A few years ago when we conceived the idea of the reconstruction of the consulate building, we believed that it had the potential of becoming a hub for tourism in Bonny kingdom with its expected huge earning for the kingdom. It is for this reason we are indeed very appreciative of the acceptance of this our initiative by Nigeria LNG and the steps being taken to actualize this monumental stride.
“All over the world, tourism is a strong economic activity which contributes fundamentally to the growth of the economy of a nation, state, or community. Apart front the capital that it brings to an area, it also creates jobs. Tourism is acknowledged today as one of the fastest growing industry in the world. It creates employment, brings additional income for the people of the communities, leads to diversification for the economy and create new opportunities.
“Bonny kingdom is blessed with a natural deep water seaport, which made us a trading post for national and international exports, even before the colonial era. Beyond our vintage position, Bonny was also the entry port of Christianity in the Niger Delta. The St. Stephens Cathedral was consecrated in 1889 as the first Anglican church in the eastern region, while the consulate building was erected in 1897, making Bonny the first seat of British colonial administration. It was from this building which housed a District commissioner, doctors, police officers and several other colonial officials, that the British governed and sustained it relationship with other colonized areas.
“Over the years, Bonny kingdom has accommodated heterogeneous investors who explore and exploit the land. The activities have left us with he risk of loosing our unique cultural heritage. But all that is about to change with our cherished cultural heritage given a further boost with the construction of the consulate building and our present status as the energy corridor of Nigeria, Bonny should be a destination for tourist and tourism. It is for these reasons that we appreciate the significance of this building in the development strides of Bonny kingdom as it will help keep the memoirs of its ancient business history.
“The consulate building is proof of the active involvement of the British in the internal affairs of the kingdom in the 19th century, following the favourable business cline they found here, as they relate with us. The story has been the same ever since with Bonny providing that cordial climate which every business concern needs.
“We have high hopes as a kingdom that the replication of the consulate building would not only bolster our tourism potential but will also enable our kingdom to proudly keep alive the memories of its ancient history.”
The king commended the NLNG for setting the pace for Bonny’s advancement to a modern and economical viable society through it sterling corporate social responsibility activities in the kingdom. “They have left no one in doubts of their desire to remain a valuable partner in the development journey of this kingdom.
“We appreciate this partnership, as we have had a history of intersecting with several stake holders with varied commercial interest since the 15th Century, when Bonny became a major trading post in the eastern delta and a gateway to international trade with the arrival of the Portuguese on our shores.
“We are greatly delighted to be part of this MOU for the reconstruction of the iconic Bonny consulate building as a gift from Nigeria LNG after 20years of safely doing business in the kingdom and presently moving on with its Train 7 project.
“We also commend Julius Berger Nig Limited for being very visible in Bonny and for it’s expertise in handling the multibillion Naira Bonny-Bodo Road which is funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria and Nigeria LNG.”
On his part, Managing Director of Julius Berger, Lars Richter, expressed appreciation for the accommodating embrace Bonny Kingdom have accorded his firm, saying that “Bonny Island has been a key project site for Julius Berger”.