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.”