Review: Oloibiri on Netflix

Oloibiri stars veteran Nollywood actors Richard Mofe-Damijo as Boma aka Gunpowder, Olu Jacobs as Timipre, the two main opposing characters. It also features William R. Moses, Clem Ohameze, Segun Arinze, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, and many others.

It was inspired by real life events and follows the story of how government and international oil exploration organisations have exploited oil rich communities in the Niger Delta and virtually left them with nothing but vermin-level pollution and abject poverty.

Warning: Heavy spoilers from here!

Oloibiri opens with a flashback mass-burial scene, as a Young Timipre remembers the numerous deaths that befell the people of Oloibiri, apparently from the consumption of crude-oil-polluted water and food.

We later learn that when the white people first discovered oil in Oloibiri in 1956, an educated Timipre advised his kin to demand that they have a say in what the white people do with their lands, how they extract the ‘black gold,’ another alias for crude oil, and ensure their people are employed in decent positions in the companies. But his Kin were satisfied with the minute promises of the LESH company- a fictitious representation of Shell-BP.

When Timipre realised he couldn’t influence the decision of his chiefs, he moved to Britain and upon returning, he is now tormented by his past- the catastrophe that befell his people.

However, Boma, aka Gunpowder, a graduate of geology and a former employee of LESH, and his gang have become vigilantes in the region and proving the nemesis of multinationals and locals looking to further exploit the area.

They make their appearance in the second scene where they had just captured Dogo, another gang leader. Dogo was Gunpowder’s former partner but Gunpowder alleges he no longer fights a just cause, has become greedy, and does not care about the people.

Dogo brags he would feed Gunpowder a cocktail of his own piss when he captures him. After further exchanges, Gunpowder shoots Dogo and sets his car on fire. Asides the oblivious that the graphic of the burning vehicle revealed the car was switched, and poor usage of the extras (community members), this scene was well put together.

However, things get pacier with news coming that there’s been an approval for Foreshaw to extract oil from Otuagbagi, a nearby community- a deal worth $300 million in revenue each year. But Gunpowder had infiltrated Forshaw and has a spy working as a personal assistant to the founder and director of the organisation, Mr Powell (William R. Moses). The spy, Powell’s PA, Azu (Dayton Sinkia) helps Gunpowder deliver a mail to Powell and he finds pictures of malnourished Nigerian children and those affected by crude oil poisoning in a bid to dissuade Foreshaw from continuing with the plan.

Nevertheless, Powell has good intentions for the communities and wants to help solve their problems, unlike the other companies. He decides to visit Nigeria to see things for himself with the help of their Nigerian representative, Cyril Beke (TK Bello). Cyril seldom cares about the state of the communities and is only interested in enriching his pocket.

Powell arrives in Nigeria but his convoy including Cyril and a group of soldiers, is ambushed by heavily armed Gunpowder and his men. He initially escapes with the help of a soldier and is found by Timipre’s grandson’s love interest, a doctor who takes Powell to Timipre’s house. After debating whether to hide Powell or take him to Gunpowder, Timipre eventually agrees and connives with Gunpowder’s mother to find a haven for Powell. Meanwhile security personnel were already aware of the attempted kidnap.

Whereas Azu and Dobra, Gunpowder’s accomplices in the US have kidnapped Powell’s family and his second in command (Mr Sheen), ransoming him to initiate a cancellation of the Oil Mining Lease (OML).  However, an exasperated Gunpowder eventually captures Timipre, his grandson, the doctor and Powell.

The OML is now cancelled but Gunpowder reneges on his agreement with Azu and Dobra to release Powel when the OML is cancelled, insisting that Powell and the likes of Cyril Beke must pay with their blood.

Infuriated by Gunpowder’s betrayal and blood lust, Azu reports himself to the police and reveals Gunpowder’s hideout. In the meantime, Timipre, his grandson, the doctor, and Powell were escaping captive after Timipre kills one of Gunpowder’s boys.

Heavily armed soldiers then attack Gunpowder’s hideout, outnumbering and overpowering them. Gunpowder is shut down from his watchtower and as he falls, a glass cup falls and shatters from the hands of his mother, a sign that his son had died. Then we see a younger version of him in front of an altar with a Rosary, saying, “Father please bless my Rosary.” Upon landing, his body is soaked in a pool of crude oil pouring from the top.

gunpowder oloibiri

The movie closes with a newspaper report that Timipre has become a representative of the community and will be working together with Foreshaw in the best interest of the locals.

Oloibiri features a star-studded cast with impressive performances, impressive original score, eye-catching locales, strangely impressive screenplay, and decent FX.

Although the two main characters seem different, they’re like two sides of a coin, save for Timipre believing in dialogue, while Gunpowder resorted to force and sheer violence in solving problems. However, Oloibiri only sheds little light on the events that have taken place in the Niger Delta since the discovery of oil in Nigeria.

The movie took a rather skewed unfolding of events, portraying Gunpowder as the outright villain, whereas it is people like Cyril Beke, government, and members of the Foreshaw board that are responsible for the deplorable state of the Niger Delta. In refusing to release Powell, Gunpowder betrayed even his own philosophy and that takes attention away from the greater message, which is that there are Gunpowder-like-heroes truly fighting for the betterment of the Niger Delta.

A more meaningful climax would have seen Timipre, Gunpowder, and Foreshaw unite to restore the glory of oil-rich Oloibiri. That way the message would remain intact

Final verdict: 6.5/10, and you will hardly find another 6.5/10 rated Nigerian movie on this site. I assure you.

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