"Oloibiri" is an enlightening film that makes it easy to comprehend the plight of the Niger Deltans abandoned by the government and oil multinationals.
It is also a movie based on true life events; the abandonment of Oloibiri, a historic town to the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. The community where the country's first commercial oil discovery was made by Shell Darcy in June 1956.
60 years after the discovery of oil in "Oloibiri," the community is currently an eyesore, with nothing to show for its significant role in Nigeria's oil business.
Produced by Rogers Ofime and directed by Curtis Graham, "Oloibiri" dramatizes the plight of a historic community, which stands for every other degraded oil mining community in Nigeria and asks the question "who is to blame?' The oil multinationals, the government or the 'influential' indigenes of the community?
While the movie does not exactly provide an answer to these questions, you come out of the cinema shaken with excitement from seeing a good Nollywood movie, but also with a touch of grief and anger at the plight of the Niger Deltans and the infamous militants.
Before the discovery of crude oil, the people of "Oloibiri" were famous for fishing and farming. But the resultant pollution due to oil exploration has destroyed the people's occupation, land and lives. Shell Development Company started operation in Nigeria since 1937 and drilled its first oil in 1956 at Oloibiri. The process of exploring crude has caused environmental damages including land degradation, air pollution, deforestation, water pollution, biodiversity loss among others.
"Oloibiri" creatively tells the story of Oloibiri, focusing on the adequacy of the remediation effort of the oil firms in the Niger Delta, but carefully leaving out the role of the Nigerian government in the negligence of the historic community, "Oloibiri." The corruption and negligence of the Nigerian government play a major role in the current state of most Niger delta oil mining communities; a story that isn't explored in the movie.
Ever since the search for oil commenced, legislations have been passed by the government to control various activities and improve environmental quality in the Niger Delta. However, the government has failed to enforce these regulations.
"Oloibiri" as a movie not complete without emphasis on the major role of the government in the degradation of the historic town.
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Yes, there is much more that can be said about the degradation of Oloibiri community than this movie does, but it is still an entertaining and engaging watch with a fantastic choreography of fight scenes, and outstanding performances.
The movie points out the existence of corrupt militants and indigenes who connive to enrich themselves to the detriment of affected communities. One is seen in the early minutes of the movie when Boma AKA Gun powder(Richard Mofe Damijo) kills a fellow militant for enriching his pocket. Another is seen in the kidnap and torture of a corrupt influential indigene who stood as an intermediary between the community and a certain foreign company, Foreshore Exploration.
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A salute is in order for Richard Mofe Damijo, who takes the seat of a 'heartless' militant, Boma AKA Gunpowder, like nobody's business. A first class graduate of Geology, Boma is committed to using violence to fight the injustice meted out to the people of the Niger Delta. Damijo perfectly interprets Boma, showing both compassion and cruelty fabulously.
Olu Jacobs is stellar as Elder Timipre, a victim of the aftermath of the oil spillage in Oloibiri in 1956, who fled the community after he lost his wife to the degradation of a once lively community. Years later, he is back to the community as a traumatized victim determined to make the oil company (Llesh - Shell) behind the fate of Olibiri pay for the harm they caused him.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett doesn't fail to bring to life her character as Boma's aged mother, who struggles to understand where she went wrong in raising her son.
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Few actors can achieve the creepiness Wale Adebayo always bring to his films, and his role in "Oloibir" isn't an exception. The actor perfectly delivered his role as the head of a notorious gang; unfortunately, the film doesn't offer any sort of background to his character or what he represents.
Ivie Okujaye and Ifeanyi Williams are believable in their interpretations of the characters Chisom and Bonme respectively. The movie also stars Daniel K Daniel, William R Moses, Bradley Gordon among others.
Elder Timipre and Boma are two victims in a quest for justice. However, while Boma chooses violence, Timipre believes in negotiations. "Violence will never offer a permanent solution," he says to Boma during his ordeal at hands of the millitant and gang.
Unlike some Nollywood movies, it runs well in less than two hours with apt dialogue and doesn't drag on interminably.
The movie doesn't come without the jarring technical issue most Nollywood movies have: sound. The film’s sound mix was average, with dialogue often drowned out. While the action in "Oloibiri" is genuinely thrilling, the blood-splattering gunshot wounds are unbelievable and could have been much better.
But beyond its forgivable flaws, "Oloibiri" is a must watch movie that encapsulates the plight of the Niger Delta oil mining regions that has been abandoned by the Nigerian government and oil multinationals.
The movie doesn't set out to answer the question of "who is to blame," it simply showcases a community in dire need of restoration, creates awareness, enlightens, entertains, and makes it possible for the viewers to connect to the unfavourable condition of the Niger Deltans.