Book title: Oil in water: Crude Power and militancy in the Niger Delta
Authors: Ibiba Don Pedro
Publisher: Foreword Communications Limited
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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