Desperate readers are making photocopies of a book boldly displaying the Nigerian flag on the back cover, in the wake of an order by Chief Timipre Sylva-Sam, governor of Bayelsa State, that every available copy of the book be burnt. The governor set an example last week when he burnt his copy of Epistle To Maduabebe, a political commentary written by Nengi Josef Ilagha, a four-time Special Adviser on Research and Documentation, and speech writer to two former governors of the state, including Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.
Sylva is apparently cross over the contents of the book, saying it severely indicts his government and makes a caricature of his uncle and political mentor, Dr Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru, a two-time Minister for Petroleum and Energy in previous governments and former President, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC.
A cross-section of citizens in the state swiftly condemned the call by the governor as unpatriotic. “Why is Sylva taking such a drastic action if he doesn’t have anything to hide?” asked one respondent to a random poll conducted by the Pen Pushers Talking Front, PPTF, a non-governmental body of media practitioners pushing for open democratic standards.
The blurb of the book carries a photograph of its author, fully decked out in royal Niger Delta regalia designed in the green-white-green colours of Nigeria. Since its publication one week to Christmas in December 2009, Epistle To Maduabebe has caused an unprecedented public stir, and as been hailed as “the height of polemic iconoclasm in the publishing history of the nation.”
Among other things, the author condemns the oil and gas magnate for forcing himself on the throne of Nembe as Mingi XII, against all opposition, having locked up two key contenders, Chief Pedro Adukpo-Egi Ikata and Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange, in the run-up to the historic event.
The fiery 153-page book also raises pertinent questions relating to obnoxious customs and practices in the ancient Nembe kingdom under Maduabebe, such as worshipping the python and burying the dead face down. It equally mounts a strident moral tirade against Dr Daukoru, and calls to scrutiny the role played by the former Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in the infamous Halliburton scandal.
The cover of the book