Tag Archives: history

Readers with Their Copy of #SoldiersofFortune: Number 22 – Sakina Kabir “Awestruck Reader”!


 

 

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 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 22nd shout out goes to Sakina Kabir – an “awestruck reader” in her own words!  Sakina says the book “might as well be” a movie, since “so many unwritten movie scripts are contained in our history”! Quite an endorsement.

Copies of Soldiers of Fortune can be bought from:

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

 

The Early Days of Boko Haram


It seems that the public and media missed critical clues in the evolution of Boko Haram. People seem to think the 2009 clashes between Boko Haram and security forces were the start of the group’s campaign of violence.

However there were clues about the group’s increasing radicalization as far back as 10-12 years ago. In early 2003 a group that advocated implementing a purer form of Sharia law embarked upon a Hijra (migration) away from secular society which they regarded as corrupt, to a remote village in northern Yobe State near Nigeria’s border with Niger. Its members were described as “mostly urban, comparatively well off Nigerians who had moved to a commune-like village to set up their own isolated society”. Locals nicknamed the group the “Taliban”. Until the “Boko Haram” moniker became part of popular discourse in 2009, the group was known as the “Taliban” for about 5 years.

WHO WERE THE “NIGERIAN TALIBAN”?

According to Shehu Sani (who has met Boko Haram members) the “Taliban” group was led by an associate of Mohammed Yusuf called Mohammed Alli. Alli led the Taliban’s migration to a village close to Kannamma in Yobe State. The Taliban were largely peaceful and devoted themselves to their own interpretation of Islam and isolated themselves from the rest of secular society. Its members included “individuals from wealthy Islamic families in Borno State, unemployed university students and friends and colleagues from other states including Ogun and Lagos”. The Governor of Yobe State Bukar Abba Ibrahim denied allegations that his son was a member.

Although the Taliban were not violent, a Professor at the University of Maiduguri in Borno State, Abdulmumin Sa’ad, said that the group was on an “idealistic outing in Yobe State,” but that it and other groups could easily become violent and adopt extremist ideology or foreign ties. The Professor and his colleagues noted an increase in religiously inspired sects on Nigerian university campuses. Professor Sa’ad also said that radical Islamist groups were also emerging from unemployed academics looking to make sense of their corrupt society.  With Nigeria becoming more corrupt and economically polarised, “radical groups will likely emerge and youth may look to Islamic extremism to strike back at economic and political injustice.” Chillingly, a U.S. diplomatic cable in February 2004 warned that “A small sect could easily turn to terrorism, or be used as a tool by international terrorist groups.”

After living peacefully with their neighbours in 2003, conflict arose after the Taliban got into a dispute with locals about fishing rights. Local leaders asked the Taliban to leave and in December 2003, the police destroyed the Taliban’s camp and arrested several of its members. This interaction with the police marked the first step in the weaponisation of the group that eventually metamophorsised into Boko Haram.

THE SLIDE INTO VIOLENCE

The Taliban retaliated by attacking the police station in Kannamma and taking several guns and ammunition from the station.  They attacked other police stations in Yobe State before finally being suppressed in the Yobe State capital Damaturu. It is important to note that at this stage, the Taliban’s violence was directed almost entirely at the police and they had little interest in conflict with civilians.  One Taliban member called Ismael Abdu Afatahi (a 21-year-old student from Lagos who joined the group) said: “I don’t know the major reason why we attacked the police posts. Maybe it is because the police is the protector of the people in Nigeria – But I was not told actually”.

In early 2004 the Taliban took their weapons into Borno State and also battled the police there. Press reports mentioned that scores of men wearing “red bandanas”, carrying a flag with an Islamic inscription, and chanting “Allahu Akbar!” attacked police stations in Bama and Gworza in Borno State. During their raids they also kidnapped some locals who they tried to conscript and forced to dig trenches around their camp. According to Shehu Sani, the Taliban who survived these clashes then joined Mohammed Yusuf’s movement. The movement that eventually became Boko Haram…

https://twitter.com/maxsiollun

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:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151630836522572&set=gm.547047158687760&type=1&relevant_count=1&ref=nf

 

Gowon: Ojukwu Acted in a Cowardly Way, Ran Away and Left His People To Suffer


Nigerian leader Major-General Gowon Interviewed After the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970

Nigeria’s federal leader Major-General Gowon speaks after the end of the Nigerian war on his nemesis – Biafran leader Chukwuemeka. Gowon said: “He didn’t do a Hitler. Ojukwu ran away and left these poor people that he led into such suffering…just left them…I hope his conscience will allow him to rest. God knows.”

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFfAVrh06fA&feature=youtu.be

Readers with Their Copy of #SoldiersofFortune – Number 6: Pat Okwy Ucheagwu


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 sixth shout out goes to Pat Okwy Ucheagwu. See him above with his copy of Soldiers of Fortune which he bought from Patabah Bookshop, in Surulere, Lagos.

A Profile of Nigeria’s Founding Fathers


 

 

A video profile of the four most prominent men in early post-independence Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, and Ahmadu Bello.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYCS5EiRXCs

“It is a Must Read”: Cheta Nwanze Reviews Soldiers of Fortune


 

http://sundaytrust.com.ng/index.php/media-media/13883-encountering-nigeria-s-soldiers-of-fortune

 

Cheta Nwanze reviewed my latest book “Soldiers Of Fortune: Nigerian Politics from Buhari to Babangida (1983 – 1993)” at the above link.  Key quotes from his review:

 

“The book has it all: drama, suspense, and even love.”

“When my fiancée saw me hugging my e-book reader, she asked what could possibly be in 336 pages of politics that had me so engrossed and disinterested in anything else. The answer: a great era of my country’s history, and presented in a very readable manner. Max presented it as a story, the story of Nigeria, in the ten-year period between 1983 and 1993.”

“The entirety of chapter two is devoted to the kidnap of Umaru Dikko, and THAT makes for excellent reading. That chapter reads like a great novel, full of suspense, intrigue, and ultimately, failure.  It just happened to be true.”

“One thing that this book has done for me is to elevate my thinking. It has left me with a mix of anger, enlightenment, irritation and regret.”

 
 

 

Max Siollun Interview Regarding New Book “Soldiers of Fortune”


 

My new book “Soldiers of Fortune: Nigerian Politics From Buhari to Babangida (1983-1993)” was released last week. The book is a sequel to my other book “Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture (1966-1976)”. It continues where Oil, Politics and Violence stopped, and chronicles the Buhari and Babangida years in Nigeria.

 

I gave an interview last week to Anthea Gordon of the Africa is a Country website. In the interview, I answered questions and talked emotively about my motivations for writing the book, the challenges I faced, and what the book seeks to achieve. You can read the full interview at: http://africasacountry.com/nigerias-soldiers-of-fortune/

 

KEY EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW

I want to present Nigerian history as something more than a mechanical rendering of dates and facts.”

 

“My books have the feel of a fly on the wall reconstruction, or an action packed thriller. I do not just want the reader to know what happened. I also want to take the reader on a journey through the dizzying twists and turns, and cast of characters in Nigeria’s history: Ibrahim Babangida, Mamman Jiya Vatsa, Muhammedu Buhari, MKO Abiola, Dele Giwa, Gideon Orkar, Gani Fawehinmi, Ebitu Ukiwe, Sani Abacha etcetera. Many people also do not know the exploits of some of these familiar names before they entered the national limelight. There are also other people who are not as famous as them, but who the public do not realize made pivotal contributions to Nigeria’s history.

 

I want readers to feel as if they personally met these people, were physically present when crucial decisions and conversations took place, and experienced all of it.”

 

“Nigeria’s history reminds one of a Greek or Roman tragedy in multiple acts, with a revolving cast of characters. There is a lot of Caesar like back-stabbing.”

 

“The origins of, and answers to, many of Nigeria’s problems are buried in the graveyard of its past. Only by digging up those buried secrets can the country learn lessons from them, heal, and move on.”

 

“My intention is for Soldiers of Fortune to become a “one stop shop” compendium and ultimate reference point for Nigeria between 1984 and 1993. That is why I dotted the book with several tables and a massive “library” in the Appendices. For example, the Appendices contain an itemization of every single cabinet minister, military governor, and AFRC member that served in the Babangida government. I want Soldiers of Fortune to be the “go to” place for anyone that wants to check any prominent controversy, fact, event, person or date in Nigeria between 1984 and 1993.”

 

“Nigeria’s young generation did not create most of Nigeria’s problems, but they inherited them, and have to deal with them. “

 

“It is rare for Nigeria to go more than a few years without a “near death experience”. Most countries go through cliff-hanging and tense crises every decade or so. In contrast, Nigeria has cataclysmic hold your breath and close your eyes dramas every few years.”

 

“I am not sure that young Nigerians appreciate just how drama filled their history is. Hollywood script writers could not have written a more conspiratorial thriller with as many plot twists, friends turning on each other, corruption, gun battles in city centers, dazzling women, and rags to riches billionaires.”

 

 

Nigeria: Giant in Africa


http://www.nfb.ca/film/nigeria_giant_in_africa

 

A video documentary on Nigeria’s early pre-Colonial history, up till the mid-20th century.

US State Department Report on Murtala Muhammed


http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76ve06/d208

A very unflattering report on Nigeria’s former leader General Murtala Muhammed written by the the American State Department shortly after Murtala came to power in 1975.

This is a memorandum sent to the US Secretary of State. The memo described Murtala Muhammed as “an erratic, vainglorious, impetuous, corrupt, vindictive, intelligent, articulate, daring Hausa”. Ouch. Not very flattering.

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