The Riddle of the Oil Thief by HRM King Bubaraye Dakolo; Purple Shelves Publishers, Lagos; 2021; 528pp
A clear and present danger that can lead to the economic ruination of Nigeria is oil theft. The nation can hardly ever pay its dues because most of the country’s oil is brazenly stolen. When one thus runs into a book entitled The Riddle of the Oil Thief one cannot but be captivated. The captivation gets even more intense upon the realisation that the book is authored by a Niger Delta Royal Majesty, King Bubaraye Dakolo, the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom in Bayelsa State.
The blurb of the book is enticing enough as it runs thusly: “Jelly Testicles… on behalf of the transnational corporations facilitated the entire crime of bribing Nigerian officials… He opened… foreign bank accounts on their behalf… he was also reputed to have made every big beneficiary swear an oath of secrecy by posing for a photograph while kissing his big baggy spongy jelly testicles, before reading out the secret codes of their foreign accounts.”
The Riddle of the Oil Thief comes well recommended with a Foreword by Dr. Sam Amadi, the respected lawyer, philosopher, scholar and development strategist who writes: “It is amazing how the author weaves history, science, and military intelligence into a riveting tale of criminality, chaos, and subterfuge. With a simple story, the author brings us up to date with the history of Nigeria and reveals the foundational roots of the nationality and productivity crises that have hobbled Africa’s unfulfilled promise.”
According to the author, HRM King Bubaraye Dakolo, Agada IV, in his Introduction to The Riddle of the Oil Thief, “Generating over 80% of the nation’s revenue, the oil sector in Nigeria contributes 10% of the Gross Domestic Product. However, according to the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria lost about $750 million to crude oil theft in 2019. This is huge! This was due to those he described as oil thieves and pirates.”
The book starts on the note of high tension when the intrepid Brigadier-General Dan Buba, Infantry Commander, Conjoined Task Force, Operation Secure Delta (CTF/OPSD) Headquarters, Yenagoa, sets up appointment and meets with Mr President, Hs Excellency Senator Olaye Lukeman, GCFR, in the Presidential Villa.
Brigadier-General Buba pointedly tells the President: “I am here to personally deliver a report on the depth of sabotage I have uncovered in the upstream sector of the oil and gas business in the Niger Delta, Mr President. Your Excellency, the rot is deep, very deep, sir. The persons behind it all are unbelievably familiar personalities in the country, sir. They are persons of high repute in the society within and out of the military. They are ruthless, so determined and so deeply entrenched that if something decisive is not done, the economy may collapse in a few months and the nation would be plunged into severe financial crises.”
Buba reveals to the President that “in barely four months as the Commander of CTF/OPSD, I have solved the real riddle of the oil thief, the untold Niger Delta story.”
He then tenders all the classified documents to President Lukeman, adding for good measure: “I got a lead and started monitoring their activities the very month I assumed duty in the Niger Delta. I was able to secure video clips of most of their meetings and related activities, Mr President. They steal approximately one million barrels of crude oil monthly, amounting to over thirty million dollars, which is about fifteen billion naira.”
In naming names without fear or favour, Buba thunders further: “The long list of unbelievable accomplices here in Abuja includes ten self-styled business moguls, twenty top politicians, and several of the top brass of the military and security services, Your Excellency. The commanders have also corrupted the rank and file so much so that they all behave like bloody civilians. They have since abdicated their national security responsibilities. The worst part, Your Excellency, is that these military commanders and generals are taking orders from the bloody civil defence commander, a bloody civilian who happens to be the head of the criminal gang. Mr President, I cannot imagine generals, regular combatant generals, taking orders from a bloody civilian because of money, blood-money for that matter. I have thirty-two hours of their key meetings on video and details of their money laundering trail in black and white, Mr President.”
After the grave revelations, the President tells his ADC, Colonel Saka Sanda, to assign Buba to House Fourteen, Aso Rock Villa “and ensure he is comfortable and protected.”
Even with the presidential assurance, Buba feels apprehensive that the fate that befell Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Idowu Bamidele who was wrongly executed via the 1986 military tribunal may equally come his way.
In trance, Buba makes his Niger Delta tour of duty from the palace of the author, His Royal Majesty, King Bubaraye Dakolo, Agad IV, the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom.
Buba encounters as his guide the voice of the Niger Delta people, a strange being named Wokolo who “could pass for young or old, male or female human, depending on what I was reading on the wall.” From the wall to the Niger Delta Hall of Fame, oil spells boom and reads doom from the beginning thusly: “In 1956, precisely on Sunday, the 15th day of January 1956, the famous 12,008-foot or 3,660 metre-deep commercially viable oil well – Oil Well-1 as it was called – was set to be drilled at Otuabagi Community by Shell D’Arcy.”
The lament is that for over half a century, the story of the people of the Niger Delta “has remained doom, doom, doom, and never boom.”
The twist in the tail of The Riddle of the Oil Thief by HRM King Bubaraye Dakolo is that President Lukeman eventually acts on the revelations of Brigadier-General Buba by upturning the corrupt Augean Stable and appoints Buba as Commander Guards Brigade.
Here is a well-packaged book that offers hope in these dire times in Nigeria. The Riddle of the Oil Thief is a treasure trove.