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King Dakolo’s Literary Account of Oil Theft in the Niger Delta


In anticipation of his book launch next Month in Yenagoa, his Royal Majesty, King Bubaraye Dakolo, the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom in Bayelsa State has given a glimpse of what to expect in an electronic interview. The Ijaw Monarch who is also a security expert, former military officer and a Nigerian Civil War survivor, has documented his insider perspective on the insecurity challenges with the Niger-Delta and what he referred to as a ‘grand-scale oil theft.’ Titled, The Riddle of the Oil Thief, the book captures the poor living conditions of a people in a region where poverty is rife amid stupendous oil deposit.

In the new book published by Purple Shelves, the king discussed about possible solutions to the region and other parts of the country.

“I was born in the mid-60s at Otuabagi Ogbia my maternal community,’’ he began. “Otuabagi was where the first ever commercially viable crude oil well was drilled in Nigeria in 1956. From the residential quarters of Nigeria’s pioneer refinery at Alesa Eleme, where I lived with my father and siblings. I joined other children in walking the approximately 4km long distance on the NPRC giant pipelines to and from my Ibuluya Dikibo State School, Okrika in Rivers State from 1970 to 1976. From our classrooms, oil pipelines beckoned on us from the front, while the sights and sounds of ocean-going petroleum tankers lifting crude oil from the nearby Refinery Jetty at the Okrika Peninsula called out to us from behind. These constant distractions spun and steered my curiosity about crude petroleum.’’

He would later return to Otuabagi in 1976 for his secondary education at the abandoned first operational headquarters (HQ) of Shell in Nigeria, at the Oloibiri Oilfield where he had a first whiff of the dangers posed by oil exploration.

“In that location which stank – and still stinks – with the mess of the early oil and gas industry in Nigeria, I was exposed first-hand to more of the undocumented activities of the petroleum sector players of the time as they still dripped fresh. I concluded my secondary education at Saint Aquinas Secondary School Elele, in 1982,’’ he recalled.

After his studies at the Rivers State University, and the University of Port Harcourt, he enlisted and trained as an officer Cadet of the 38th Regular Course of Nigeria’s pioneer military academy, NDA, Kaduna, from 1986, and subsequently studied the subject of security at the post graduate level. His experience with gas flaring inspired him to serve his community in different capacities. For instance, he had served as Chairman, Companies and Contractors Monitoring Committee for Ayainbiri amongst other roles.

“I live in the Nun Riverbank community of Gbarantoru in Ekpetiama Kingdom within 500 metres of one of the most intimidating gas flares in the world. The Gbaran/Ubie Project has been gassing us ceaselessly for years too; so oil and gas issues have been part and parcel of my life. They still poke me, choke me, and stare me in the face every day. The said facility siphons gas equivalent of over 60,000 barrels of crude oil daily. That is over one billion naira.

“Having grown to become a staunch advocate for a cleaner better natural environment, being the ultimate Nun River Keeper, I have long toured many oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta. I can say I have continued to live the avoidable shame of the oil sector in Nigeria- the pervading insecurity it has created,’’ he revealed.

King Dakolo explained further that the content of the book had been lived and written to share the story of seven decades of exploitation of oil and gas and the people of the Niger Delta with the intention to trigger palpable attitudinal changes. He questioned the rationale behind assigning oil blocs and Oil Mining Licenses (OMLs) to non-indigenes, mostly past and present military men as well as some civilians. In his view, the way out of this inequality is justice, fairness and accountability through effective law enforcements not just publicising policies that have no significant impact on the lives of the people for whom they had been created.

“We all want to see and feel the positives. Not just hear or read about them. Action they say speaks louder than words. The Niger Delta ecosystem is still as polluted as ever and the adverse effects of pollution are as real as ever. And the people are still suffering the effects of double victimization. More of the effects of the exploitation – the health consequences, the carcinogenic effects, the socioeconomic, and the Psychosocial which would surely worsen with time are still here. Without deliberate acts to reverse the effects of oil exploitation on the people and their environment, then classing the acts of the oil industry and their collaborators against the people as crimes against humanity taking the necessary constitutional steps at demanding justice would be inevitable sooner or later,’’ he said.

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