Lagos lawyer and writer makes a literary intervention in the crisis of mission circumscribing elite leadership and politics in Nigeria, well, Africa if you like!
By Chiemeke Onyeisi
“Power has a face that is as ugly as that of a goat. Nobody seems to see it, except the insane. How do we rationalize this if the news is correct? It was reported that the first lady’s sister who has been in a drug rehabilitation centre for the past five years could suddenly become the candidate of the ruling Congress for Stability Party (CSP) for Koko Local Government Council. How can such a crack head be positioned to become the party’s flag bearer for Koko Local Government Council? Would it not have been better to give the seat to a goat instead of this absurdity?” This was a note found on the desk of Mr. Apiti, who was also interested in the chairmanship of Koko Local Government Council. How this note ended up with the first lady of the state was interesting. It was Mr. Apiti’s private thoughts that slipped into the hands of his wife’s sister whom Apiti did not know was a good friend of somebody close to the first lady. The first lady when he saw the note had asked;
“You mean Mr. Apiti said this of my sister?”
“He did.” The first lady’s contact replied.
“Incredible! I will teach him a lesson.”
“I hope you are not going to harm him physically?”
The first lady glared at her guest like a caged lion starved of food. It is a fact that the first lady had been rumored to have a hand in some deaths in the state. The most rumored of those deaths was the mutilated body of a young school girl at Koko River about three years ago. There were ritual marks on the poor girl’s body, prominent was the star of David’s sign on her chest, and since the first lady came back from Israel, where she went to bathe at River Jordan, her enemies spread rumor that it had to do with her. The first lady quickly blamed her enemies for the rumors. As she said in her usual coldness of coleslaw; “my success has blinded my enemies.”
But the first lady’s guest had reasons to be apprehensive. But she did not have the benefit of knowing what was on the first lady’s mind as the first lady dismissed her. As she exited the room, the first lady called in her personal assistant for a chat. When the personal assistant came in, she handed over to him the short note containing what Mr. Apiti wrote. The personal assistant read it and knowing the first lady’s appetite to enjoy the rain of flattery, decided to open the flood gate and the usual flattery started to rain on the first lady.
“How dare Mr. Apiti say this about your lovely sister, a product of London School of Fashion and Harvard School of Ethics and Good Governance? A product of Billy Graham’s Theological School who had ministered in many gatherings across the world? But first lady, who should take the blame, if not the governor who refused to endorse sister Abi (Abigail), if not the governor, even when the president specifically requested for sister Abi to be made a minister?” He saw that the first lady did not like the last sentence and beat a retreat. But like a stubborn goat continued with his job.
“First lady, I should think it is high time we hired Ikoto to finish off this Mr. Apiti.
“Are you mad? How can you be saying such a thing in the open? Do you know who is listening?”
“I am sorry first lady, but…”
“But do we fold our hands while Apiti continues to vomit such nausea?”
“No! Let him continue to vomit the nausea, that’s even better, because very soon we are going to serve him a dish of his vomit. And if he does not eat it, he would know that my name is not Nobite.”
“All hail the first lady!” The personal assistant did a military salute. Such antics by the P.A are all aimed at ingratiating himself to the first lady. The P.A’s skill at flattery has become such that if the first lady is to smell as horribly as the shrew; the P.A would say she smelt better than a Christian Dior perfume. And it looked as if the Almighty God knew he was going to be a sycophant all his life and decided to bless him with a set of snow white teeth, which he flashed at the first lady even when she farted.
In some sense, the salute was appropriate. After all, the first lady was a police corporal in the Police Force when fortune smiled on her. The story in the street, though not verified was that the first lady was one of the security contingents to the then governor of the state- Dr. Fese Fese. The first lady got friendly with the private secretary to the then governor of the state. From friendly smacking and banters, she slipped into the private secretary’s bed and from such dalliance, the first lady ended up the wife of the private secretary. And luckily for the first lady as at that time the private secretary to the then governor had become a widower as his wife had died in a ghastly auto accident leaving him with two young children. And because of their ages and circumstances of the lady’s death, their maternal grandmother came and took custody of the children, to live in her house. The private secretary’s former wife’s name was Mercy and Mercy’s mother was bold enough to accuse the private secretary of being irresponsible and that her irresponsibility led to her daughter’s death. And it came to a head when the private secretary got married just a few months after the death of his wife.
“Thank you Ogbotu, you have moved on, just a few months after you and your new wife killed my daughter, who do I blame if not my daughter? I warned her the very day I saw you at the door of my home that you were a bad person, but she shook her head and said she was in love. And death was her reward for the road of love she chose.” As she spoke, Ogbotu kept his cool, he remembered the saying that; a woman who lost her child is entitled to cry the way she likes. At the end, his mother in-law took the two children – a boy and girl and left the house. The addition to this story is that since that day they left with their grandmother, they have never slept under the same roof with their father, because the first lady forbade it. But to be fair to the governor, he has not in any way shirked his responsibilities to his children.
From being a private secretary, the trajectory of the governor’s political career shot up and he landed here as the governor. The first lady believed that she had invested too in the political fortune of the governor and that she deserved some respect. And her family is part of that political investment, how then can she allow Mr. Apiti to ruin it by casting aspersion on her sister who only had a misfortune of being in love with the needle and scalp blades?
“P.A., enough of the speech! Go and call the party chairperson for Koko Local Government Council. Tell him to be in my office in the next few hours.”
A few minutes later, the first lady’s P.A was back
“What?” The first lady snarled.
“The chairman’s phones are switched off.”
“You are stupid. Don’t they have vice chairman or secretary? Since you are stupid, get whoever you can and tell all of them that I want them at the state capital as soon as possible.” And the P.A disappeared. And the first lady was about to open the book of Samuel in the Holy Bible when the P.A resurfaced again.
“Don’t tell me another rubbish is about to drip from your mouth again?” She said as she adjusted her Philip Patek sunglasses.
“No!” The P.A replied
“Good! So what is the news?”
“I got through to the party secretary, he said he should be given time to summon the party executive officials.”
“Did you tell him to summon the local executive committee members?”
“I did not my special first lady.”
“Alright, give me his number.” As the P.A fiddled with his phone, the first lady shouted;
“Andrew! What is wrong with you?” She snatched the phone from him and scrolled on the contacts to find the secretary’s number and dialed it. And it was later that what the responder said emerged, but it was clear the responder had put the first lady on a state of anger as all the P.A could hear was;
“You are stupid to have asked; which first lady? Alright, God has exposed you today, so you are among those questioning my first ladyship in this state? … Keep quiet, I am talking you are talking? You must be an idiot. You are lucky you are not in my presence; you would have seen who the first lady is. You are an idiot. Anyway, I don’t have your time now, but I need you to get hold of the party chairperson and I want all of you at the state capital immediately.
“May I ask the reason for the summons?” A faint voice asked from the other end.
“So that you can come and wash plates in my kitchen. And you will do it when you get to the state capital today, idiot!” A confused voice from the other end tried to tender an apology.
“Sorry Madam first lady.”
“Sorry for yourself, because you will need plenty of it today.” The voice from the other end faded away.
After three hours of this encounter, the P.A to the first lady knocked at her door to announce that the party officials from Koko Local Government council had arrived.
“Let them come in, I need the meeting to be quick because I have another engagement. By the way, did the party secretary come with them?”
“Yes he did.” As the P.A went to the visitor’s room to call the party leaders, the first lady got a call. It was the commissioner for finance. Rumour has it that the commissioner is romantically linked with the first lady but this may not be correct. The first lady has told those in her close circle that she did not like the size of the finance commissioner’s manhood. Two men in need of penile surgery could successfully have their grafting from the man’s third leg and be at peace. And if they could notice, hardly has anybody seen the commissioner in suit or trousers, he is constantly in native attires. The denominator in their relationship is that the commissioner indulges her fantasy in financial pillage of the state resources. According to a source, the first lady was so enamoured by the commissioner’s financial wizardry that she believed that the commissioner can dismember a whole elephant and not spill a single blood.
“First lady, please forgive the party secretary for Koko Local Government. Please temper justice with mercy. It was an indiscretion informed by the fact he did not know who you were.”
“Well, let him count himself lucky because he would not have been able to stomach what I had in store for him.”
“Thank you first lady. Only say you refuse to give me one blessing.”
“Don’t worry, the money you dey chop dey enough. Unless say you go do the thing operation, make e reduce.”
“First lady it has reduced, it is now normal size.”
“Good to know. Take a picture of it and send to me and let me assess it. And …”
At that point the door creaked, and the P.A walked in with the party officials. While they waited, the first lady was busy admiring a picture on her phone. It was the picture of the penis of the Honourable Finance Commissioner.
“Yes, gentlemen and ladies, you are welcome. Where is the party secretary?”
“I am here madam first lady.”
“Thank your stars that I got a call on your behalf, otherwise from here you would have been on your way to Toka Prisons, this was because it appeared to me, your mother did not bring you up properly. Sometimes the innocent escape harm because they do get lucky with some protective gods. But be careful as you may not be that lucky next time.”
“Thank you Madam, first lady.” You could hardly see him as he rolled on the green carpet greeting the first lady for her kindness. “I assure you that I will obey any call from you.”
“You don’t have a choice. Disobey me again and I will squash you like a roach.” To drive it home, the first lady demonstrated the act with her right leg.
In the middle of it, the party chairperson found his voice.
“Madam first lady, you sent for us?”
“No! I did not send for you. The reason for your coming is because today is Christmas. But since you are in a hurry to go, here is the reason why I called you people.”
“I am sorry madam first lady.”
“In any case, why I called you people is because of the election in your local government. Has anyone of you seen this?” She brought out the notes from Mr. Apiti. She asked the party secretary to read it. He was almost done when she commanded him to stop at that point where the note said; ‘would it not have been better to give the party ticket to a goat?’ After he had read that portion, the secretary asked:
“Do I continue?”
“No, you stop there. What do you people think of the last statement?” They were not sure of the answer to give, they all kept quiet.
“You people have no answer?” They all still kept quiet.
“It was obvious that you people engineered Apiti to write this nonsense about my sister.”
“No! No!” They all protested their innocence, but they were all hushed down by the rasping voice of the first lady.
“You people should shut up. You are all hypocrites. And I have good news for you people; since you all agreed that the party should present a goat as its candidate at the next election, I have a surprise for you people.” She snapped her finger and the party officials could see the P.A walking in with a goat.
“What is it for?” They all chorused.
“This is the candidate for Koko Local Government Council.”
“Madam first lady, this is not possible.” Somebody tried to find her voice among the party officials.
“May thunder fire that your mouth?” The first lady said, spitting at him. Unfortunately, the spit landed on another person’s face. The P.A tried to restrain the first lady from hitting the man, but his effort proved fatal as the blow landed on his face. The first lady’s ring-studded right hand left some lacerations on his face. The party officials were beginning to find out all they have heard about the first lady. They have heard of how she left a bite-mark on the face of a rival candidate against her husband during the last party primaries. It was said the man was later hospitalized as he came down with a tetanus infection. Though the first lady’s crowd said no such thing happened but it was rather an effort to tarnish the good image of the first lady. But from what they are seeing now, it was beginning to dawn on them that power can engender insanity. At that point, the party chairperson decided to speak for other party members.
“Madam first lady, the fire that consumes the evil forest! The goddess that gets the best of the sacrifice!” He could still see the first lady seething in pretentious anger as she lapped up the praises.
“My dear first lady, I urge you to cool down, even the larva from the volcano seethes to ashes.” The first lady sprang up again.
“It is you that will seethe to ashes.” She was up on her chair again.
“Pardon my poor choice of language.” The party chairperson was on his knees while the goat bleats in a corner of the room. The party chairperson rising from his kneeling position continued;
“Madam first lady, as we all know, whatever you want, we will do for you. What do you want?”
“I have already told you people what I want. This goat you are seeing here will be on the ballot for the party primaries. And if I am further provoked I will replace this goat with a pig.”
“Madam first lady, I beg of you not to take offence but who will the goat be contesting against…?” The party chairperson asked pointing to the goat.
“You want me to answer that?” The party chairperson did not say anything. And the first lady took it as an invitation to continue.
“—since you want to know, who this goat will be contesting against; it is Apiti.”
“Do not be angry first lady; are we going to tie Apiti up in order to turn up against this goat?” He pointed to the goat which looked nonchalantly at the whole situation, but continued to chew its cud. She tried and processed the situation. In answer to the question, she said this:
“The only compromise I will make is that there will be a party primary. Apiti will bring his own goat and I will bring my own goat which is already seated here, and which ever goat wins after you all have voted for them at the primaries, the owner will become the party candidate. And I am sure that none of you will vote against my goat as the party candidate or as I earlier said you will get a pig in the alternative.”
“Thank you Madam first lady. As we leave here we all shall become your messengers.” The first lady understood the last aspect of the speech and asked her P.A to arrange their means of transportation- which in monetary terms was not less than, one million Naira. The P.A was instructed to do that. He quickly went to the safe where they kept money and arranged for the sum of one million naira. He quickly shuffled half a million of the money into his breast pocket and gave the remaining to the party officials. He quickly followed the first lady to a conference on good governance.
That night the party officials met with Apiti to brief him of the new development.
“Something has cropped up with respect to the party primaries in this local government.” The party secretary said.
“What is the development?”
“Well, it has been decided that the two candidates, that is yourself and Medoni will present a goat each as your representatives at the party primaries and whichever goat scores the highest delegate votes will become the candidate of the party.”
“This is absurd! And by the way who decided this?”
“The party.” The secretary answered.
“The party or the first lady, because I was informed you got conscripted to the state capital today?”
“Nobody conscripted anybody to the capital. After all you are not a party official.”
“Let me ask; who are those to vote for the two goats?”
“Who else? Party members of course will vote for the goats.”
“So humans will be voting for animals?”
“Will it be the first time? Goats are in power all over the world. What distinguishes all is the way you nurture them. In any case, the goats are merely your representatives.”
“Goats are now representing human beings?” Apiti asked looking into the dark night.
The party chairperson cleared his throat, stopping Apiti in whatever mental track he was.
“Look, it was the party that made the rule and we are only messengers conveying that to you. Whatever you choose to do, you let us know. The primary has not been shifted. It is this Saturday everything being equal.” They all made to go and cast a last glance at Apiti, hoping to elicit an answer from him. They were about to step into the dark night when they heard Apiti’s voice.
“Tell the first lady I will meet her at the primaries.” The party officials heard him but did not make any response as they were in a hurry to go and share the half a million naira with them.
The party officials were already at Apiti’s gate when his gateman motioned them to stop. Apiti’s last son handed an envelope to them. Inside the envelope was the sum of fifty thousand naira only. One of the party officials uttered;
“Today has not been a bad day despite the first lady’s humiliation of us.”
“Forget the humiliation. If every day seven of us make five hundred and fifty thousand naira, do we need to do any other work again?”
It was only the man that the first lady wanted to punch that thought of the events of the day in the privacy of his room that night. “What is in power that drives man to it even against the background of extreme torture and humiliation? He had thought that Apiti would reject the new condition of goats acting as contestants’ proxies, but there like bee after nectar, Apiti still accepted the new condition. And from the first lady, he saw a few hours ago, the first lady would rather kill Apiti rather than her sister not becoming the next council chairperson. Power drains man of humanity. The Apiti he saw faintly in the dark is only gasping for breath. And for a man to begin to market a goat as a representative for the purpose of power only shows the desperate descent we all have descended into. Sometimes impunity takes the pride of a peacock.
But God seems to have a way of preserving the little that is left of us. This was because on the day of the primary election, as Apiti was steadying his goat into his car for the journey to the venue of the primaries, the goat started to breathe heavily and bleating in agony. Before they could call the veterinary doctor, Apiti’s goat had breathed its last.
As the party primary was about to begin, the P.A whispered to the first lady.
“Madam first lady the primary has been won.” The first lady snapped into a fit.
“Calm down Ma. It is to our favour. Apiti’s goat died on his way here.”
“Are you sure?”
“I am as sure as you and I whispering to each other here.”
“God you are wonderful.” The first lady said sinking to her knees. In less than a minute, everywhere was in a rapturous mood as the first lady, her sister, Medoni and other hirelings took to the floor singing the praises of God who delivered Meshack, Shedrack and Abednego.
“Thank you, Jesus! Thank you Master Jesus!!
“Amen! Amen!! They all chorused to bring the party primaries to a close after the goat representing Medoni, the first lady’s sister was unanimously declared the winner.