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Interrogating sundry oil-related issues in Niger Delta

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Book title: Oil in water: Crude Power and militancy in the Niger Delta

Authors: Ibiba Don Pedro

Publisher: Foreword Communications Limited

Pages: xxxx

Year: 2017

Reviewer: Pauline Onyibe

Oil in water: Crude Power and militancy in the Niger Delta, written by renowned Journalist Ibiba Don Pedro, is a follow-up of Chapter One of her other book, ‘Out Of A Bleak Landscape’, which exposed the dark side of crude oil found in the Niger Delta region. It is book where the author exposed the role of the military men who invaded the Rivers communities destroying buildings with dynamites.

Chapter One, titled Dark Side Of the River, is on where armed men have taken over Rivers Communities including Buguma brandishing pump action guns, rocket propellers and dynamites destroying lives and properties.

Chapter Two titled Warlords of the oil Rivers, exposes how a set of people who readily admitted to being beneficiaries of dividends of democracy of the oil to the detriment of the region.

Chapter Three is titled Fez Caps and straw men, while chapter four, Gaping Cracks in the Painted sepulcher talks about Ijaw people including minority rights activists all over the Niger Delta where they began a peace process talk in Abuja.

Chapter five is about Rivers State ‘between two new years’; while chapter six has its title, ‘Ten years on black Gold, Delta blues’. Chapter seven looks at problems that will confront Abubakar in Rivers.

Section Two of Oil in water focuses on Bayelsa State, and titled ‘Not Yet the Gory’. Issues such as Bayelsa the Pain and the Glory, Bayelsa not yet pride of the Nation, Akassa, challenges of a Sea Side Town, the fading Glory of Akassa, and Bayelsa without its ailing Administrator are what the author interrogates in this section of the book.

Section Three titled ‘Active Voices’ is on interviews the author had with some Ijaw activists. These include: T.K. Ogoriba, ‘How I was liberated from Bayelsa Government House’; Mujahid Dokubo Asari: ‘Our struggle is for self-determination’; Judith Asuni: ‘Most NGOs don’t know Niger Delta Problems’; Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, ‘We can stop oil production if…..’; Asume Osuoka, ‘PANDAC won’t create superstars who fight for personal interest; as well as ‘IYC will overcome its problems’.

Sections Four and five of the book are titled: Oil in Water. Here, various issues are brought to the fore. They include: In 20 year, Niger Delta Environment will be terrible; Dredging River Niger Without Impact Assessment is criminal; Alfred Lenre: What South- South must Demand at National Dialogue; Rowland Ekperi: Niger Delta Needs Cultural Revolution; and Sharing of Oil Welfare Destroyed Nigeria;

In section five, the author draws attention to ‘Niger Delta’s Unending Misery’, ‘Ken Saro Wiwa and the spirit of Ogoni’, ‘Fear and loathing in Warri’. There is also ‘A tale of Sorrows and Tears’, ‘Far From the Madding host Communities’, ‘Darkening Clouds over a change of names’, and ‘For Oil Companies, Imperative of Wiser Relations’.

Shadowing the Peace is the title of Section Six of this book. Here, the focus is on issues such as ‘A shaky Bridge across troubled Escravos’, ‘Dialogue As Panacea to Niger Delta Impasse’, ‘Again in search of an Acceptable Constitution’.  In this section also, the author looks at what she calls ‘For the Niger Delta. A controversial Development plan’; ‘Niger Delta: Many Hurdles to Peaceful Development’, ‘Avoiding the Niger Delta Problem in Ondo’, ‘Community involvement in Natural Resources Exploitation and Environmental Protection, imperative’, ‘Fears still over Niger Delta Dredging’, and ‘A Gathering to end the Hostage Scourge’.

‘Counting the Costs of Crisis in the Niger Delta’ is the focus of Chapter Eleven in this section. 

The book exposes the inhuman treatment meted out on the people of the Niger Delta. It is a collection of feature reports on the Niger Delta by Ibiba Don Pedro published in the Guardian, New Age, and Daily independent from 1994 to 2005.

The book ‘Oil In Water’ captures disorder, disharmony and the seemingly disruptive impact of the production of crude oil in the lives of the people of the Niger Delta.

It represents another effort to stripe off the layers of public relation of others by killing, rape, and communities captured when arms rather than opportunities are given to the youths of the Niger Delta by powerful people with their eyes on oil.

It also exposed the futility of shadow chasing in the name of search for peace in the Niger Delta without doing justice to the issues at the core of the conflict in the Niger Delta.

Without the stubborn determination of certain persons to speak out even at the risk of being targeted for repressive actions including death especially in the tense days of 2004 the pieces of journalism contained in oil in water would not have become reality.

Oil in water is a tribute to the strong women of the Niger Deta, Ankio Briggs, Fanty Wariyai, Primerose Kpokposei, Constance Meju, Mama Aluta and others who have chosen to stand stubbornly firm on the side of justice and thus miss out on the goodies enjoyed by the gele brigade.

The book Oil in the water is an effort for justice today and sustainable peace tomorrow.

In terms of justice as book, oil in water, is in class of its own as what was supposed to be a simple matter of publishing a collection of the author’s investigative report degenerated into a test case for the practice of democracy or rather its practice.

The title of the book was chosen because it operates at several levels of meaning that bear on the situation in the Niger Delta. On the other hand, the stories are steeped in hopelessness etched on a canvass of violence and bloods shed.

The articles betray at the same time an obdurate whiff of hope and defiance in the unending engagement of youthful courage against brute force that play out in most unexpected ways and situations.

It is a must read for every student of mass communication, history, geography. In fact it is a must read for all.

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Literature

The Lion And The Jewel goes on stage

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The stage is set for the Crown Troupe of Africa production of Prof. Wole Soyinka’s play The Lion And The Jewel. Produced by the Ibadan Playhouse, the performances will hold at the Amphitheatre, Lagos Country Club, Ikeja, Lagos, on Sunday March 4, 2018.

 

Set in the fictional village of Ilujinle, The Lion And The Jewel tells a griping story involving four major characters – Sidi, the village belle; Lakunle, the village school teacher with Western ideals and believe in cultures such as eating with cutlery, kissing and bogus dressing; Baroka, the ageing but nimble witted Baale (head) of Ilujinle; and Sadiku, Baroka’s senior wife and head of the harem.

 

 

As the play opens Sidi, carries her pail of water past the school where Lakunle, approaches her and chastises her for carrying her water on her head and stunting her shoulders, but she is unruffled.

 

 

Lakunle loves Sidi and wants to marry her. Sidi does not love Lakunle; she finds him and his ideas about making her a modern, Western bride strange. However, she plans to marry him if he can pay the price as the village traditions necessitate. He refuses to pay her bride-price because he considers it an archaic tradition.

 

Meanwhile, Baroka has ‘got his eyes’ on the “feisty but voluptuous” Sidi. Baroka considers Sidi another conquest but Lakunle, whose cunning reluctance (or inability) to pay Sidi’s bride price, remains an obstacle. Sidi on the other hand will ‘not give’ unconditionally.

 

All three as well as the entire village are embroiled in a game that must be won by one.

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Literature

Tribe and Prejudice: Omatseye’s musings in service of humanity

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Title: Tribe and Prejudice
Author: Sam Omatseye
Publisher: Parresia Publishers Ltd, Lagos
Year of Publication: 2017
Pages: 63
Reviewer: Tony Okuyeme

 

“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.” The above statement by Plato, one of the world’s best known and most widely read and studied philosophers, underscores the essence of poetry.

 

 

Sam Omatseye, award-winning Nigerian journalist, poet, novelist and playwright, in his latest collection of poems titled ‘Tribe and Prejudice’, demonstrates his commitment to the making of and desire for a better Nigeria, where though “tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”.

 

 

 

In this collection, titled ‘Tribe and Prejudice’, Omatseye takes the reader, indeed Nigerians, on a reflective journey. While the last collection, Scented Offal, looks at Nigerian history with a view to “capturing some of the essence of the conflicts, crises, and challenges of our history over the years”, in this latest collection, Tribe and Prejudice, Omatseye interrogates further the sundry ills that have plagued the nation. He wants us to look at ourselves critically and realise the kinds of social ills that have bedevilled our nation for so long.

 

He laments the tribal psychosis and ethnic rivalry pervading our society. In this 63-page book containing 30 poems, the poet reminds us, with clarity of expression and vivid imagery, that “a nation which normalises evil can never make any progress”.

 

 

This is clearly captured in the eponymous poem – the first in this collection of 30 poems – Tribe and Prejudice. In it, Omatseye looks at the metropolitan city of Lagos, home to variety of people from different tribes and culture, living together happily, united by a foreign language, which they have adopted to suit their purpose. In the words of the author, “Tribes knitted beneath a tent/All tongues tied by one thread called English…”

 

But as politics and election came, ‘things began to fall apart’, tribal and cultural differences too centre stage. For, according to the poet, “but in that poll the cosmopolis/came apart one part at a time / One pact was one pact. / The Yoruba past / I jaw past / Igbo past and so on / But past make the present tense / Yoruba of the west / Igbo of the east / Were no longer at ease / The twain met in

Lagos / Not as friends or foes but as / Foes feinting as friends. “Suddenly all our past no longer met / In the pidgin English / We no longer convene in / one tongue.”

 

 

He laments the antics of the key politicians, especially Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe, two of the prominent political leaders of Yoruba and Igbo descent respectively. In the third poem, Massacre, 1967’, the author laments the invasion of Asaba by the Nigerian Army and the massacre of unarmed people – old and young – who had come to welcome them with songs and dance for liberating them.

 

 

Again, in another poem entitled ‘The Fart of War’, the poet expresses his personal view of war. He sees war as a foolish and destructive venture, an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

 

 

The poet notes: “A war does nothing / But build up / A ruin… Cities become fragile like / Human bones / Fields once green recoil to grey…”

 

With vivid description and haunting imagery, the poet captures other areas of tribalism and its attendant prejudice which are no doubt nauseating.

 

These include the supremacy battle in Niger Delta, among the Ijaw, Urhobo, and Itsekiri, the Ife and Modakeke case in Osun that raged for years until peace returned; and the activities of the Niger Delta militants and that of the Boko Haram insurgents. They also include Strangers Invocation; ‘Indolent beauty,’ ‘Girl Bomber,’ ‘Corruption’ Almajiri, Tyranny; ‘The Sham I Am’, ‘Wretches’, ‘The Vultures’ and others.

 

 

 

The collection is not just about historical events. The poet looks at some current issues such as the Awo statue at Alausa, Lagos, the Almajiri phenomenon, and some glorious moments such as the victory in the Under 17 World Cup Final in 2015 which he also celebrates in the poem, ‘A Mexican Tear’.

 

 

In all of these in Tribe and Prejudice, Omatseye shows us, with a deep sense of patriotism, his desire for a better Nigeria. Notes the Executive Editor of TheNews/PM News, Kunle Ajibade, author of ‘Jailed for Life: A Reporter’s Prison Notes’, Omatseye’s Tribe and Prejudice is passionate honest descriptive lyrical and reflective.

 

“The arguments here are empowered with measured rhetorical flourishes.

 

We are roused to rage, shame and pity as the poet confronts us with stupidities, madness, and calamities. We are roused to joy as he celebrates with us moments of glory and triumph. We are roused to value tenderness and to love even in our castle of miseries. We are admonished to consider constantly the futility of life. The poet reaffirms his faith in the goodness that will make humankind endure.”

 

Reading this collection, you cannot but agree with Ajibade when he also notes that the poet reminds us that “a nation which normalises evil can never make any progress”. Omatseye’s Tribe and Prejudice is a must read.

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Literature

Entrepreneurship, innovation as panacea for unemployment

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Book title: How They Started: Innovative Nigerian Brands
Author: Kachi Ogbonna
Publisher: MiH Consulting Limited, Lagos
Year of publication: 2016
Pages: 252
Reviewer: Adejoro Cornelius

 

Every government in Nigeria in the past few decades have had to battle with the challenge of unemployment without much evidence of success yet. In fact it is safe to say that of all the challenges that are facing Nigeria as a country today unemployment is top on the list. Governments at various levels, private establishments as well as individuals have adopted different approaches as a remedy to this. Kachi Ogbonna’s approach is somewhat different. For him, not only is entrepreneurship the solution to unemployment, he also argues that Nigeria is the best place to start and run a successful business in the world. This, obviously, is contrary to the general opinion that businesses cannot thrive in a place like Nigeria. His book, ‘How They Started’ is therefore a detailed research which presents an empirical proof that it has been done successfully in Nigeria before and that it can be repeated even now. The author is an entrepreneurship consultant. He has established different businesses and today helps many universities to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in their students. He is also committed to helping startups grow.
The author argues that the solution to graduate unemployment in Nigeria is not rocket science. He maintains that it is first of all a matter of mindset and orientation. He maintains that if the young people can look inwards to discover the latent potentials within them and attempt to match them with the various problems they see in their surroundings with the aim of offering solutions and adding value, they would have succeeded in creating businesses with or without government’s special support.
In showing how Nigeria has always been a land of great opportunities, the author traced businesses that started as far back as the immediate post-independence era and still waxing strong today, down to those that were launched in 2012 and have grown to become multinationals in less than four years. The author’s ability to group the 25 brands featured into sectors (eight sectors in all) shows that opportunities abound in almost every sector of the Nigerian economy.
It is probably just a coincidence that this book was released at roughly the same time that Nigeria is passing through what can be described as the biggest economic decline since independence. The price of crude oil has fallen in the international market, the Nigerian currency the naira has depreciated significantly in value, investors are leaving, companies are retrenching with reckless abandon and with the obvious need to diversify the economy and also reduce importation, I am forced to say that if government and those that run our universities are serious about ending graduate unemployment then they must find a way to liaise with Nigerians in the mold of the author of this book and also adopt it as a practical entrepreneurship manual for building entrepreneurial universities.
It is difficult not to commend the author’s liberality and unbiased selection of the featured brands. However, the more he attempts to lay down the criteria for the selection the more we are forced to ask whether they are the only 25 brands that met those criteria. Yet, it is impossible for me not to recommend this book to all entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs and indeed everyone that seeks to contribute in growing the nation’s economy through entrepreneurship. Let me also add that every undergraduate deserves to have a copy of this book before leaving the four walls of university.

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