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A Swamp full of Dollars By Michael Peel

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A Swamp full of Dollars by Michael Peel - was one of the books in focus in the 2011 Garden City Literary Festival.

Peel introduces readers to Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta with an uncommon insight. This is made possible by his interaction with the key actors in the country’s oil saga.

It was a time of intense debate as is expected when the Niger Delta is the topic for discussion. While some felt strongly that a non-violent approach to resolving conflicts could bring long-lasting solutions, others felt that violence was necessary. Chibuzor Eferebo, a book club member said ‘Violence is the language of the unheard’.

In his contribution, Prof. Allagoa shared wisdom when he pointed out that there were different approaches to seeking solutions to agitation, as shown by Ken Saro-wiwa and Asari Dokubo.

We should attempt to understand those who choose the path of violence while realising that we have gone past the era where violence was needed as a tool for change.

 He said it is necessary to acknowledge the anger that the current situations raises in us and perhaps write about it, as some people have done, but after that, it is important to have hope for a better future.

The moderator, Mrs Uduak Bassey, concluded by reminding attendees of the importance of oiling the wheel of change by deciding to do our best, in our little corners devoid of corruption, which is the crux of the Niger Delta situation.

In time, we will have the Nigeria of our dreams.

Nigeria like Russia is a petrochemical hegemon within its part of the world. Both countries have populations of 140 million people each and dismal records on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Nigeria has however had to cope with oil-related insurgencies that have left many thinking the discovery of oil more of a curse than a blessing.

Journalist Michael Peel paints a powerful picture of how oil shaped Nigeria’s history; its development, the civil war, the military era and the current 4thRepublic. The book also quibbles about a future that could play out sooner than later. It is an interesting read and a fair appraisal of Nigeria’s prospects as the country approaches its Centenary in 2014.

A Swamp Full of Dollars is luridly eye-opening.
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