Fuelling the Delta Fires is a novel detailing the socio-economic, political and environmental crises in Nigeria. Those familiar with the country will find the story familiar and the outside world will find it rather intriguing. A brilliant work of fiction by Ayo Akinfe, it is beautifully woven around true-life developments in the Niger Delta and the deeper causes of the violent uprising by the militant groups in this region. Supported by well-researched history and facts, Akinfe’s book connects the dots between the history of Nigeria, its politics and its intrigues. Fuelling the Delta Fires also offers an unbiased insight into the Niger Delta crises.
The plot is woven around two characters – Chief Ibimina Tom-George and Mene Bene. With regards to Chief Tom-George, the book details his journey through the corridors of power, from minister to the governor of Western Ijaw State and subsequently his truncated attempt to become Nigeria’s president. Mene Bene the radical leader of the Niger Delta Liberation Movement (NDLM) spearheads the resistance against the marginalisation of the Niger Delta people. In simple language, Akinfe tells the story of hopelessness, greed, betrayal, corruption, ignorance and deceit, which has left the Nigerian state in a quagmire. His characters and incidents are reminiscent of factual situations that are obtained in the Nigerian state in the last five years. The strength of this work is not just a thrilling storyline but the detangling of the seemingly intricate problems of the Niger Delta via beautifully crafted speeches of his characters and shows a deep understanding and indepth research of the region by Akinfe. It was easy to comprehend and the suspense was enduring.
In summation, except for some avoidable grammatical errors (which are the publisher’s responsibility), inconsistent characters and a few unnecessary lengthy dialogues, Fuelling the Delta Fires is brilliant. It is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand Nigeria and its religious, ethnic and political complications. Akinfe succeeds in putting a human face to the Niger Delta uprising and exposing the ignorance of the very people responsible to effect change.
Ayo Akinfe was born in Salford, Manchester in 1966, but he spent his key formative years in Nigeria. He is a London-based journalist who has worked as a magazine and newspaper editor for over 20 years.
(c)Olutayo IRAN-TIOLA, Lagos, Nigeria