Bonny Kingdom is a resource-rich traditional state located in Rivers State of Nigeria, evolving from the shackles of slave trade into a port for trading Palm products, Ivory and Guinea Pepper between the 13th & 19th Century. Situated next to the Atlantic Ocean, and endowed with valuable resources, the Kingdom is a strategic spot for various forms of economic activity.
One of the earliest sovereign cities in the pre-colonial days, Bonny Islandis a coastal town located in the southern region of Rivers State. The Island is a structured community with a largely organised extended family system; headed by a recognised traditional Chief and his cabinet of elders who owe allegiance to the King (Amanyanabo) – their ‘natural ruler’. The families are categorised into thirty-four (34) Houses including the royal House (George Pepple) – fourteen (14) major Houses and twenty (20) minor Houses.
The Bonny Monarchy is about the oldest institution of traditional rule in the Niger Delta. The Amanyanabo of Bonny is at the apex of traditional rule, as he is the head of the Monarchy – the present monarch, King Edward Asimini Dappa Pepple III, JP, CON. Perekule XI, Natural Ruler andAmanyanabo of Bonny is the 22nd ruler of Bonny Kingdom.
Bonny kingdom has since become of great economic importance to Nigeria- as it plays host to three (3) major oil and gas companies in Nigeria – Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) which operates a 6-train LNG plant producing 22 million tonnes per annum (MTA) of liquefied natural gas yearly; Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) which exports crude oil from its terminal – Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal (BOGT) which is the largest of its kind in Africa; and Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) which operates its onshore fractionation and storage facilities at Bonny River Terminal (BRT).
Consequently, this has spurred economic and infrastructural development in the area which is expected to accelerate in the future because of the many strategic advantages that Bonny possesses- notably its ready access to deep water as a natural harbour suitable / deep port, significant endowment in forest and aquatic resources, its focal point on a number of major gas and oil pipeline networks, and its role as an established location for oil and gas facilities, beachfront / coastline suitable for tourism development and availability of human capital. These advantages are strengthened by the reputation of Bonny as a relatively secure and stable base for industrial operations.
However, this has simultaneously resulted in economic concentration around a single industry. This poses a major risk to the economy and while it may seem far-fetched, divestments or decommissioning of the oil and gas investments from the Kingdom will adversely affect its economy. This mono-resource dependence has also resulted in seasonal fluctuations in jobs, causing a cyclical employment profile across the Kingdom. In addition, the kingdom is plagued with unflattering economic and social issues such as limited skills acquisition opportunities / access to capital, inadequate amenities & poor waste management system, high rate of unemployment, poorly equipped educational and healthcare systems, onerous process of obtaining land for commercial purposes, poor visibility within investors community, high level of unemployment- lack of employment opportunities outside the oil and gas sector, limited access to capital (microcredit) and a lack of an emergency response / evacuation plan for the Island.
In addressing these problems and to guide the much needed socio-economic development throughout the land, two Master Plans have been developed for Bonny Kingdom. However, both plans have not translated into the desired socio-economic transformation. The first Master Plan, developed in 1973 for Bonny Town and its immediate hinterland, predated the arrival of Mobil and Nigeria Liquefied Gas Company (NLNG) and soon became obsolete. The second Master Plan, developed in 2001, was part of a wider programme of projects encompassed in the 1998 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the JIC and Bonny Kingdom (represented by the Council of Traditional Rulers and the Bonny Kingdom Development Committee (BKDC). In 2013, a Pan-Bonny Sustainable Development Conference was held to chart a new direction for Bonny’s socio-economic growth. One of the resolutions at the conference was to update the 2001 Master Plan to address the current needs and realities of the Bonny people and extend the planning horizon from 2020 to 2040, taking into cognisance key factors militating against the success of the earlier Master Plans.
By 2040, Bonny Kingdom aspires to build a diversified economy hosting significant non-oil and gas investments, with a highly skilled populace, low unemployment rate, strong infrastructural base and improved quality of life for its citizens. This is the essential thrust of the Kingdom’s Masterplan – a clear dedicated focus on factors the community needs to exploit in order to accelerate socio-economic development / growth as well as advance its competitiveness. This overall vision can only be made possible in a peaceful, harmonious and equitable environment where each citizen has a strong sense of community and plays an active part in building an environment where business can thrive.
To coordinate all stakeholder efforts in achieving this envisioned utopian state, the Bonny Kingdom Development Foundation has been proposed. The aim of the development foundation is to drive socio-economic development by partnering with governments and the public and private sectors to address inherent issues and invest in the right areas at the right time to ensure long term sustainable growth