Description

Based on the real life situation in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, Fuelling the Delta Fires is a 134,000-word expose and action adventure novel revealing why there is turmoil in the world’s sixth largest crude oil exporter.

 

Chief Tom-George is a corrupt local politician and the governor of Western Ijaw State. Under Nigeria’s military dictatorship, Chief Tom-George served as Nigeria’s petroleum minister and made tidy sums of money from a combination of kickbacks and outright crude embezzlement.

 

With the transition to democracy and elections looming, Chief Tom-George decides that he wants to be governor of his state and decides to go about building up a support base. To “spread his message” across the state, the Ijaw chief buys the services of Mene Bene, the leader of the largest youth militant group the Niger Delta Liberation Movement (NDLM).

 

In exchange for cash, Bene ensures that Chief Tom-George’s opponents are harassed, that his political rivals are beaten up and threatens communities that refuse to back his man’s National Umbrella Party. However, once he was sworn in as governor, Chief Tom-George no longer needed Bene and the NDLM, so they had a problem.

 

To compound the crisis, the NDLM was getting more militant as with its main source of revenue now cut off, it resorts to kidnapping as a means of raising funds to sustain its operations. What started off as a little bit of mischief, soon grew into a multi-million dollar industry as NDLM found out that oil companies were willing to pay handsome sums for the return of the expatriate workers.

 

Although the Nigerian Army scored several successes in clashes with the militants and eventually arrested Bene, the problem did not stop. All that happened was that the NDLM fractured into local groups, with each controlling its own “territory.” Before long, a class of millionaire kidnappers has emerged.

 

Meanwhile, the poor people of the Niger Delta, never see one penny of all the ransom money that changes hands. Their creeks remain polluted, their villages stay inaccessible and social amenities like electricity and pipe-borne water remained dreams.

 

Chief Tom-George and other Ijaw “elders” milk the crisis in the Niger Delta to the fullest. They get the federal government to increase derivation from oil earnings to 13% from 3% for the Delta’s nine oil-producing states, dramatically increased the quota of appointments they get in the federal government and always have first refusal when the head of a security agency or a government parastatal is up for grabs.

 

This dramatic book and potential blockbuster, also gives a real live account of the experience of Alan Ward, a kidnapped British oil worker. Alan is held on the isolated and desolate delta island of Epeleama, which was originally built by the Portuguese but is now uninhabited.

 

Unlike any other book before, Fuelling the Delta Fires also takes the reader through the travails of Mene Bene, the NDLM leader. It profiles the man, looks at his persona, his childhood and orientation that led to him taking up arms against the government and oil companies. The book also looks at the conflicts of interest he wrestles with as his split loyalty to his political masters, money and his people often pulls him in different directions.

 

Fuelling the Delta Fires ends with Chief Tom-George’s ambitions to run for the presidency of Nigeria in tatters. He is the front runner until at the last minute, the rug is pulled from under his feet when a litany of his corrupt deals are read out to him a day before the ruling party selects its presidential candidate. Faced with the threat of standing down or being indicted, he does the former and watches on helplessly as the prize slips from his grasp.



The Story Behind This Book
Based on the real life situation in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, Fuelling the Delta Fires is a 134,000-word expose and action adventure novel revealing why there is turmoil in the world’s sixth largest crude oil exporter. Chief Tom-George is a corrupt local politician and the governor of Western Ijaw State. Under Nigeria’s military dictatorship, Chief Tom-George served as Nigeria’s petroleum minister and made tidy sums of money from a combination of kickbacks and outright crude embezzlement. With the transition to democracy and elections looming, Chief Tom-George decides that he wants to be governor of his state and decides to go about building up a support base. To “spread his message” across the state, the Ijaw chief buys the services of Mene Bene, the leader of the largest youth militant group the Niger Delta Liberation Movement (NDLM). In exchange for cash, Bene ensures that Chief Tom-George’s opponents are harassed, that his political rivals are beaten up and threatens communities that refuse to back his man’s National Umbrella Party. However, once he was sworn in as governor, Chief Tom-George no longer needed Bene and the NDLM, so they had a problem. To compound the crisis, the NDLM was getting more militant as with its main source of revenue now cut off, it resorts to kidnapping as a means of raising funds to sustain its operations. What started off as a little bit of mischief, soon grew into a multi-million dollar industry as NDLM found out that oil companies were willing to pay handsome sums for the return of the expatriate workers. Although the Nigerian Army scored several successes in clashes with the militants and eventually arrested Bene, the problem did not stop. All that happened was that the NDLM fractured into local groups, with each controlling its own “territory.” Before long, a class of millionaire kidnappers has emerged. Meanwhile, the poor people of the Niger Delta, never see one penny of all the ransom money that changes hands. Their creeks remain polluted, their villages stay inaccessible and social amenities like electricity and pipe-borne water remained dreams. Chief Tom-George and other Ijaw “elders” milk the crisis in the Niger Delta to the fullest. They get the federal government to increase derivation from oil earnings to 13% from 3% for the Delta’s nine oil-producing states, dramatically increased the quota of appointments they get in the federal government and always have first refusal when the head of a security agency or a government parastatal is up for grabs. This dramatic book and potential blockbuster, also gives a real live account of the experience of Alan Ward, a kidnapped British oil worker. Alan is held on the isolated and desolate delta island of Epeleama, which was originally built by the Portuguese but is now uninhabited. Unlike any other book before, Fuelling the Delta Fires also takes the reader through the travails of Mene Bene, the NDLM leader. It profiles the man, looks at his persona, his childhood and orientation that led to him taking up arms against the government and oil companies. The book also looks at the conflicts of interest he wrestles with as his split loyalty to his political masters, money and his people often pulls him in different directions. Fuelling the Delta Fires ends with Chief Tom-George’s ambitions to run for the presidency of Nigeria in tatters. He is the front runner until at the last minute, the rug is pulled from under his feet when a litany of his corrupt deals are read out to him a day before the ruling party selects its presidential candidate. Faced with the threat of standing down or being indicted, he does the former and watches on helplessly as the prize slips from his grasp.


Praise and Reviews

"This novel will make a mark as a political novel that very successfully captures the political Nigeria of the twenty first century. Based on the unending story of the Nigeria delta region's misery, staring poverty, disease, social neglect, total depredation of life and property, environmental destruction by local and international oil barons, and in the face of violence by government and resistance by the so-called militants, this writer craftily presents the flesh and blood of the continued political turmoil.   
 

The language is sharp and sophisticated, many times untypical of the trademark of post-colonial African novel of traditional anecdotes and oral performative metaphors and images but clearly adequate of the new Nigerian lowness in lack of regard for its people and its high-rate cultural and traditional humanistic values.    
 

This novel exposes the true cause of the ongoing Delta violence and the continued political turmoil in Nigeria." 

- Damola Ifaturoti, editorial co-ordinator, Africa World Press/The Red Sea Press

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Ayo Akinfe
Ayo Akinfe, born in Salford, Manchester, is a London-based journalist who has worked as a magazine and newspaper editor for the last 20 years. Ayo attended Federal Government Colle More...