Tag Archives: book

Readers with Soldiers of Fortune: Philip Effiong (Number 24) #maxsiollun


Many of you have been posting images of yourselves with your copy of my book Soldiers of Fortune. To say thanks to you, I have been posting “shout outs” to say thanks to you for buying and reading the book.

The 24th shout out goes to Philip Effiong who bought his copy in Nairobi, Kenya!  Philip is of course the son of the late Lt-Colonel (Biafran Major-General) Philip Effiong who was second-in-command to Ojukwu during the Nigeria/Biafra civil war.

Copies of Soldiers of Fortune can be bought from:

Online from Buyam and Cassava Republic who can deliver directly to your front door:

Full list of locations here: http://www.fortunesoldiers.com/where-to-buy/



Readers with Their Copy of #SoldiersofFortune: Number 21 – Nas #maxsiollun




Many of you have been posting images of yourselves with your copy of my book Soldiers of Fortune. To say thanks to you, I have been posting “shout outs” to say thanks to you for  buying and reading the book.

The 21st shout out goes to “Nas” (@pam_E_chic on Twitter).

She has actually posted snippets of a few pages from the book:







Copies can be bought from:

Online from Buyam and Cassava Republic who can deliver directly to your front door:



Readers with Their Copy of Soldiers of Fortune – Etim Eyo (Number 15) – #maxsiollun


Many of you have been posting images of yourselves with your copy of my book Soldiers of Fortune. To say thanks to you, I will be posting “shout outs” to say thanks to you for  buying and reading the book.

The fifteenth shout out goes to Etim Eyo. Etim actually gave this copy to his son, and tasked the young man with reading the book and summarising it for his father! I autographed this copy for Etim. Etim also has several other autographed copies for sale. Available here:



Readers with Their Copy of #SoldiersofFortune – Number 10: Olajide Adesanya


Many of you have been posting images of yourselves with your copy of my book Soldiers of Fortune. To say thanks to you, I will be posting “shout outs” to say thanks to you for  buying and reading the book.

The tenth shout out goes to Olajide Adesanya. See him above with his copy of Soldiers of Fortune which he bought from the Nigerian Nostalgia group on Facebook.

Many thanks for buying the book Olajide.

You can also buy an autographed copy from the Nigerian Nostalgia Project group on Facebook at the following link:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151630836522572&set=gm.547047158687760&type=1&relevant_count=1&ref=nf

“Riding the Tiger” – Kingsley Ewetuya’s Thoughts on #SoldiersofFortune




Soldiers of Fortune- Riding the Tiger.

Kingsley Ewetuya read Soldiers of Fortune and was kind enough to write this review of it. Read the full review below…

During his inaugural speech in January 1961, barely  three months after Nigeria attained independence from Britain, President John Kennedy said “To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.“ That quote, particularly the highlighted portion kept running through my mind as I read Max Siollun’s latest opus, “Soldiers of Fortune”.

Soldiers of Fortune (SOF) picks up from where Siollun’s prequel “Oil Politics and Violence (OPV)” leaves off. It is a very revealing account of Nigeria’s junta dominated polity from 1983 when the government of an unpopular President Shehu Shagari was truncated via a coup, to 1993 when General Babangida ignominiously “stepped aside”.

SOF is quite well written and I cannot but repeat my comments in a thread discussing OPV after its release as they similarly apply. I noted then that “Mr. Siollun took great pains to be objective, quite a feat considering the sensitive nature of the Nigerian polity. A man once said “I have never traveled to Venice, but I have been there, many times” Mr. Siollun provides a LOT of researched backing in presenting his “fly on the wall” accounts, that for a brief moment, the reader feels like he/she was there when it all happened. Upon finishing the book, I could not but ask myself what details in the name of discretion Mr. Siollun consciously chose to leave out.”

Siollun’s ability to take the average reader on a guided tour of the corridors of power and reveal once esoteric account of events without much overwhelming the reader is particularly commendable. Indeed when one  takes in these events as they are revealed page after page, one cannot but ask “What isn’t Siollun telling us? Surely there has got to be more. “

When I read OPV, what I loved the most about it was that it challenged, nay changed previous views I once strongly held on Nigerian politics. SOF in no small part does the same. The major takeaway of the book for me was Siollun’s account of the June 12 election annulment debacle. I, like many Nigerians I know once held the view that General Babangida in typical “evil genius Maradona” fashion did a bait and switch on Nigerians by annulling the elections to perpetuate himself in power despite promising a transition to democracy. Siollun very systematically purges me of that point of view by accounting how Babangida faced enormous, even life threatening pressure from some of his high ranking military cabinet not to allow the election results stand. It is to Siollun’s literary credit that SOF which appropriately is heavily focused on Babangida’s tenure, leaves the reader simultaneously critical (or even hateful) of and yet, slightly sympathetic to Babangida. I found myself saying “Stop it Siollun, don’t let me spread the blame around, I want to exclusively hate this man.” That the very senior military officers whom Babangida “charmed and settled” to place him in power, were the same ones who prevailed upon him to annul the 93 elections and left him open to the ubiquitous hate of Nigerians, thus making his exit from power inevitable was eye opening.

The reader will likewise have a more nuanced view of Nigeria’s military and no longer view them as a monolith. Siollun very well educates the uninitiated that even within the despotic military junta were the dichotomic power struggles of “professional” and “politicized” officers. While Nigeria’s history clearly shows that the latter faction prevailed, it is quite educative, if not comforting to know that such a dynamic struggle existed at all!

Reading SOF also successfully challenged my previous opinion that had Abiola been sworn in to power, perhaps the trajectory of Nigeria would have changed. It was a complete revelation to me that Abiola  was a financier of two coups which brought the military to power. In so doing, he unwittingly financed his own misfortunes. Even if Abiola was sworn into power, Siollun essentially notes that such was the antipathy of a huge portion of the military command to him, that his Presidency would have been short lived.  In the end, both Babangida and Abiola metaphorically ended up in the belly of Kennedy’s proverbial Tiger.

The Nigerian public is not spared as well and are also given their fair share of the blame for Nigeria’s state of affairs. Our gullibility fueled by tribalism and hypocrisy never did us any favours.

I wish I could close this on a happy note of hope, but I just cannot in good conscience do so. When I finished reading SOF, my first thoughts were “Good God, we never had a snowball’s chance in hell.” As we have now made the transition to “democracy”, I cannot but wonder if we are simply repeating the same vicious cycle that Siollun writes about. When General Buhari took over from President Shagari in 1983, he said among other things, “The last general election was anything but free and fair. The only political parties that could complain of election rigging are those parties that lacked the resources to rig. There is ample evidence that rigging and thuggery were relative to the resources available to the parties. This conclusively proved to us that the parties have not developed confidence in the presidential system of government on which the nation invested so much material and human resources.While corruption and indiscipline have been associated with our state of under-development, these two evils in our body politic have attained unprecedented height in the past few years. The corrupt, inept and insensitive leadership in the last four years has been the source of immorality and impropriety in our society. Since what happens in any society is largely a reflection of the leadership of that society, we deplore corruption in all its facets.”  

Buhari too was removed in a coup, by the same officers who brought him to power via a coup. Buhari, Babangida, Abiola all entered in the belly of the tiger they tried to ride. As Nigeria trudges along, I am not entirely sure this tiger is fully satiated

How to Get an Autographed Copy of the Book “Soldiers of Fortune”


The Nigerian Nostalgia Project group on Facebook is running a promotion whereby people can buy an autographed copy of my latest book “Soldiers of Fortune”. In the picture above is Nigerian Nostalgia Project member Abi Sonubi with eight (yes EIGHT!) copies of Soldiers of Fortune that he bought. Good man!

Click this link to get your autographed copy: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NN6080.CWC/547047158687760/?comment_id=570551396337336&ref=notif&notif_t=like

“Its Fast Narrative Pace Makes it a Delightful and a Must Read”




Soldiers of Fortune… Revisiting The Dark Days Of Nigeria’s Military Rule


User Rating: / 0


FOURTEEN years after, Nigeria still struggles to shake off the incubus of military rule that continues to constitute a blight on the country’s socio-economic and political fortunes. Nigeria’s current effort at democratic rule has a serious handover from prolong military rule, especially with official impunity and corruption at its heart. Also, a sizable number of the current political gladiators are of military stock, individuals who played active and pivotal roles in Nigeria’s political trauma, individuals who stalled all efforts at democratic restoration while they enjoyed the spoils of office.

But how did the military come to wield so much power over Nigeria’s large civil populace so much so that it almost annihilated it? What subterfuge did the military employ to wheedle civil populace into accepting it to its peril? Who were the invincible men in army uniform that warmed their way into the hearts of civilian population and played and manipulated them so well that a militarized ethos became entrenched into a national psyche? What love-hate relationship existed between the military the civil populace while the military ruled? Importantly, who where Muhammadu Buhari, and especially Ibrahim Babangida, and how did they gain notoriety as maximum rulers?

These varied and complex questions are the thrust of a new book, Soldiers of Fortune: Nigerian Politics from Buhari to Babangida (Cassava Republic Press, Abuja; 2013), by unarguably Nigeria’s best known expert in military matters, Max Siollun, who writes about Nigeria’s military, as no insider would be able to write about that establishment that evokes so much mixed feelings. His first book, Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture (1966 -1967) gives such firsthand factual account about the coups and counter-coups that ousted the First Republic in 1966, which eventually resulted in a bloody 30-month old civil war. Indeed, Siollun’s factual, almost eye-witness narrative of the grim events and masterminds of every stage of the coups and the fragile political contexts that provided the impetus cannot be surpassed.

It’s with such eye for details that he has brought to bear on this new book, as he relives and recreates again the tumultuous political years of the 1980s, with an impotent President Shehu Shagari, who could not rein in his powerful cabinet members, who went on corruption spree that brought in the military yet again to power. The military were to stay for the most prolonged and convoluted military-inspired political campaign ever there was in Nigeria.

Gross corruption and poor management of the economy (with hyper, run away inflation in overdrive) in the Shagari government brought back the military, with Buhari as head although the architects of the coup were Babangida, Sanni Abacha and several other well-known coupists from the days of Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s ouster from power way back in 1975. In fact, when the Shagari government was toppled there was widespread jubilation among the civil populace, as indication of its lack of popularity in not being able to deliver the democratic dividends to the citizenry. This wide acceptance of the military, Siollun posits, emboldened Babangida to inflict himself on Nigerians the way he did.

Siollun writes, “Politicians continually fell into every trap set for them by military conspirators. A factor that few Nigerians will admit today is that the military always enjoyed widespread support any time it deposed an elected government. The military were always cajoled into political power and welcomed as heroic redeemers after each coup. Babangida revealed the extent to which civilian preference for military rule over democracy encouraged the military to retake power”.

But the Buhari/Idiagbon’s regime didn’t last either. It turned out to be too draconian, as it curtailed all civil rights enjoyed by Nigerians, especially freedom of expression. It also failed to deal decisively with the economic problems it inherited from Shagari. Once again, entrenched coupists, Babangida, Abacha, Joshua Dogonyaro and their henchmen took over power to usher in the most convoluted political transition campaign that stretched the national imagination to its limits.

It is Babangida’s eight years in office that Siollun’s book concentrates on as marking a watershed in Nigeria’s military intervention in politics. Babangida seemingly reinvented all the known rules as means of entrenching himself indefinitely in power. He wielded the tools of political patronage and settlement to devastating effect. These tools also polarized the military and created dichotomy between political office appointees and professional, careerist soldiers, with the former looking down on the later on account of the stupendous wealth they amassed.

Such rich officers later became Babangidas’s headache, as he could not convince them on the need to leave the political stage having tasted the wealth that came with political power. Senate President, David Mark and Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako (retired as Vice Admiral) were some of these powerful military office holders that partly held Babangida and Nigeria hostage to the evil genius of Babangida.

Siollun does not spare details. His account is a re-enactment of Nigeria’s bitter history in the hands of men employed and paid by Nigerians to protect them, but who turned against them in their self-proclaimed mission of redemption from elected civilian administrations. It was always the same story; elected governments are accused of performing badly in office. That becomes a pretext for staging a coup.

Beyond researching into his material, Siollun has in this book also brought insider witnesses to give immense credibility to the narrative. A principal actor like Domkat Bali speaks on some of the potent issues of the day. In Soldiers of Fortune, every step or missteps taken by Babangida are documented. He gives his convoluted transition train great attention and relives some of the intimate and behind-the-scenes’ maneuverings that shaped Nigeria’s watershed moment at democratic efforts that produced implacable June 12.

Siollun’s narrative of the Gideon Okar coup is reminiscent of his first book, where coup narrative is easily his forte. He brings out the actions in their broad theatre in a gripping, thriller narrative style. He also presents in graphic style how and why the coup failed in spite of its bloody execution.

Siollun paints a grim picture of the military after the annulment of June 12, when he writes, “The annulment polarized the army’s professional and political wings to such an extent that the army factionalised into “little more than an assorted array of conspiratorial groups”. As coup plotting had become some officers’ preferred method of settling differences of opinion, different pro and anti-Babangida forces in the military planned several overlapping coups…

“Colonel Ababukar Umar (Commander of the armoured corps) later admitted that he and other officers (including Gen. Abacha) also planned a different coup… However, Umar told his men to stand down after Gen. Abacha and Brigadier Mark disagreed and favoured the continuation of military rule under a new regime not led by Babangida”.

Siollun’s book indicts the likes of Senate President, Mark and Governor Nyako, who vehemently opposed restoring June 12 while they enjoyed political offices as soldiers, but who eventually became its biggest beneficiary at the inception of the current democratic dispensation. They were also the ones whose action led to the spilling of innocent blood of Nigerians on the streets while protesting their continued stay in office after June 12 expired their illegally appropriated mandate.

This is the chief aim of Siollun’s Soldiers of Fortune: Never to forget. With Nigerians often falling into collective amnesia, Siollun’s book will continually nudge them awake and never to forget what had gone before. Mark and Nyako and others of their ilk are now not only beneficiaries, but champions of the democracy they once worked so hard to scuttle!

Soldiers of Fortune is Nigeria’s recent history rewritten with a keen eagle-eye. Its fast narrative pace makes it a delightful and a must read.



“It is Essential Reading” – Jibrin Ibrahim Reviews Soldiers of Fortune



“This Book is Incomparable to Any of its Kind” – A Reader’s Take on Soldiers of Fortune




“J’ai fini…..my book no 17 for 2013 ….. ‘Soldiers of Fortune’ by Max Siollun.

Greatly filled with extensive research and history….wow. The level of research that went into the writing of this book must have been craaaazy! My pen did a lot of highlighting whilst I was busy devouring the pages.

Now, this book transported me to the days the Military bestrode the Nigerian sphere like they were owned it. Fascinating tales of IBB’s time as the president and Buhari’s rule. The whole military culture and coups are well detailed. I doubt I can say much but YOU NEED TO READ IT YOURSELF…c’est tout!

This book is incomparable to any of its kind…and I doubt there’s any like it. I felt the same way as I did while reading ‘Tragedy of Victory’ by Gen.Isama.

As a researcher, I’ll hold on dearly to this book and I can’t wait to have discussions about coup d’etat,the military and Nigeria. Why?? Cos I can’t wait to share the knowledge gained from this book.


Where to Buy Soldiers of Fortune

SOF banner

I have been frequently asked (daily!) where my books can be bought. Here is the list:












There are also autographed copies for sale. Available here:





However, if you wish to buy from a physical book shop, you can currently buy from:


The Bookseller, Unity Plaza (by Biobak Restaurant), Area 11.

Cassava Republic bookshop, 62B Arts and Crafts village (opposite the Sheraton hotel)

Chapter Books, Omega Centre, Wuse II

Readers and Leaders bookshop, Ceddi Plaza

Salamander Cafe, Bujumbura Street, Wuse II

Call Silas on 0818 580 2634 if you wish to make a bulk order in Abuja or northern Nigeria.



Booksellers, Jericho Road.



Iqra Books, 14 Umaru Audi Road, GRA, Ilorin. 0803 382 4014


Hafiz Bookshop
Post office frontage, Yakubu Gowon Way, Kaduna.
Shop 17, A.O 1 Junction Road, Kaduna



Best in Books, 190 Awolowo Way, Ikeja

Glendora, Awolowo Road, South-West Ikoyi

Jazzhole in Lagos, at 168 Awolowo Road, Lagos, Nigeria
+234 1 480 5222

The Hub Media Stores in Shoprite, The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki

Naks Supermarket, 3 Karimu Kotun, Victoria Island

Patabah Bookstore, Shop B18, Adeniran Ogunsanya mall, Surulere

Quintessence, Block 13, Plot 44, Park View Estate, Ikoyi

Terrakulture, Plot 1379, Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island


Port Harcourt

Books on the Loose (call 0814 872 6637)

Call Kofo on 0818 580 1657 if you wish to make a bulk order Lagos or in southern Nigeria.




Book Cover

http://www.amazon.com/Oil-Politics-Violence-Nigerias-1966-1976/dp/0875867081/ref=tmm_pap_title_0 (U.S. paperback)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/087586709X (U.S. hardback)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/books/dp/0875867081 (UK paperback)

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Max_Siollun_Oil_Politics_and_Violence?id=t5Q78sVbLakC (hardcopy AND e-book)

http://iqrabooks.com.ng/details.php?code=1328463779 (hard copy from Nigeria)


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