‘I am a strong believer in the tyranny, the dictatorship, the absolute authority of the writer.’― Philip Pullman
The president’s independence speech is so badly received by the public that the president decides to do something drastic to divert the attention of Nigerians from lampooning, mocking and drawing caricatures on the speech. One analyst on radio called the speech ‘the worst speech in Nigeria since 1743’ and a twitter post on this ‘analysis’ has now been retweeted seven thousand times.
‘But Nigeria didn’t exist in 1743,’ President AA Sule protests to Pedro who is mildly happy about the humiliating outcome of the speech. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ he says, ‘the speech is too bad. Phew.’ Even Arewa Trust, a newspaper with unblushing support for the president, termed the speech: ‘Poetry too little too poor’.
Two days after the speech, the president and Pedro are seated in the president’s office searching for the radical distraction for the mess tagged #SpeechGate on social media. On his desk, between him and Pedro, is the list of the members of the committee to counter The Politician Who Must Not Be Named. There are seven people on the list. The governors of Jigawa, Kebbi and Kaduna; the ministers of defence and interior; the NSA (chairman) and Pedro (secretary). Pedro is the only southerner in the list. The President does not trust many southerners. People from the South West are automatically loyal to The Politician Who Must Not Be Named, and the president considers the South South/South East foreign territories.
Pedro has just finished calling the committee members to inform them of the committee and about the meeting fixed for Friday. At the end of the calls, Pedro called his contact in Sahara Reporters and told him about the committee, its members and the day of their first meeting. He did that because he wants the president to think that one of the members leaked this information and for the president to distrust the entire committee, and rely more on Pedro. He did that for the president’s own good. Yes, in Aso Rock they cut off your head to treat your headache.
Now, as the president and Pedro ponder, the internet is rife with the news of the Committee, #TheGangOfSeven is trending, but Pedro keeps the news away from the president. Let the committee stink, let them stink; the more it stinks the less useful it will be to the president. ‘I am worth ten politicians to you,’ Pedro usually tells the president. He alone is committee.
‘I think I should just travel out of Nigeria while this speech nonsense rages on.’
Pedro doesn’t agree. ‘No sir, the opposition will term it running away. It is too soon, and remember, in three weeks’ time you will be off to Germany to treat your pile.’ The president has a pile in a part of the body that must not be named.
‘I am not going to Germany to treat any nonsense pile,’ President Sule says. ‘Don’t be silly. I am going there to trap investors.’ The president usually uses the word trap to refer to bringing foreign investment here. In his mind he knows that no businessman lord over his/her senses will invest in his Nigeria.
‘But you will visit your doctors afterwards, won’t you?’
‘That is by the way. My number one reason for going to Germany is investors! Get that into your thick head. You talk too much!’
‘And have you fired the idiot who wrote that nonsense speech?’
‘I suspended him indefinitely.’
‘That’s not good enough, fire the idiot. I believe he is working for the Politician Who Must Not Be Named. He is from the South West isn’t he?’
‘You see? Pedro, I blame you for this, how can the kinsman of the Politician Who Shall Not be Named be my speech writer and you allow it?’
‘It was your appointment, sir.’
‘And I ask you to fire him!’
‘I will sir.’ Pedro will not fire him and the president knows. The president is merely exhaling his anger. After this storm, he will ask about Jide and eat Pedro alive for sacking him.
‘I think I should visit the South East. The news of doing the South East a favour might get the #SpeechGate idiots off my neck.’
‘Not good move, sir. There is nothing to commission there; going there will only make you commit to doing something we can’t do like building the Second Niger Bridge and Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. Reporters will ask you about them and you will be trapped. Fail to give clear answers they will flog you; give definite answers and they will start a mad countdown. And their governors are pricks.’
The president sighs. ‘What else? Maybe I should dissolve the cabinet.’
‘Not good idea.’
‘It will take public eyes away from the disaster speech, but there will be scramble from all political bigwigs to fill ministerial slots. Dissolving the cabinet is something we should do in 2018 so that we can use it to bargain for 2019.’
‘But I can dissolve the cabinet today and still dissolve it in 2018.’
‘It will make you inconsistent.’
‘No,’ the president disagrees, ‘it will make me a no-nonsense president, trust me.’
Pedro isn’t convinced. ‘The senate hate you; they will make the new ministers’ screening and confirmation hell.’
‘Hell for the ministers! Not me. See, the more they delay confirming the ministers, the more powers I will have. It will be basically me and you running this country.’
The temptation is too much for Pedro and he smiles. ‘You are forgetting the vice president.’
At the mention of vice president the president begins to laugh. His ‘hohohohohohohoho’ hitting the wall and filling the room with cunning mirth. ‘Please don’t make me laugh.’ There are tears in the president’s eyes. Someone once referred to the VP as a federal commissioner. Someone, Pedro now knows, is right.
‘Will you tell the VP about dissolving the cabinet?’
‘I will.’ The president looks at his wrist. ‘It’s one o’clock. Set up a meeting with him for 4pm.’
‘Sir by four you will be meeting with Generators Importers Association of Nigeria, GIAN.’
‘Me, meet with generator importers? God forbid. Let the minister of Power represent me there.’
‘The minister of power is already representing you in Ibadan Power Forum.’
‘Then call the SSG.’
‘He’s in Benin representing you in the wedding of the governor’s uncle’s son’s wedding.’
The president sighs. ‘Then you should cover for me.’
God forbid, Pedro says in his mind. Aloud, ‘We’ll get the minister of Trade and Investment to do it.’
‘Get him then.’ The president knows that the only way to get Pedro make vital suggestions is to ask Pedro to do it himself. ‘What other meetings do I have for today?’
‘As we talk now, executives of the Widows Association of Nigeria are waiting for you in the conference room.’
‘Widows?’ the way the president sounds you will think ‘widow’ is a Korean word.
‘Yes sir, widows.’
‘You mean women whose husbands have died?’
Pedro tries not to laugh. ‘Yes, Your Excellency.’
‘God forbid. Do you want me to die? Let the senate president represent me there.’
Pedro laughs. ‘Do you want him to die?’
‘I beg your pardon.’ The commander in chief doesn’t smile.
Pedro checks himself. President Sule’s ability to swap moods is legendary. ‘Nothing sir, just that the president of the senate is on seat now. The senate is on session.’
‘What about the vice president?’
‘No, we can’t rush him into a meeting that started ten minutes ago. Haba.’
‘Then you represent me.’
‘Why don’t we ask the first lady—?’
‘Let’s ask the minister of Culture, she’s a widow. She should talk to her fellow widows.’
‘No Pedro, you meet with them. I want you to talk to them.’
‘Why me, sir? I will be busy coordinating meetings and stuffs for you.’
‘Well, I will be busy coordinating Nigeria. You do it.’
‘Because I hate you.’
Pedro curses without opening his mouth.
‘Any other meetings?’
Pedro’s voice is husky with bitterness. ‘The hockey federation people are billed for three o’clock.’
‘Do you people want to kill me?’
Pedro rises to his feet. ‘If you may, sir, I need to attend to the widows.’ He begins to leave. At the door the president yells his name. Pedro stops but doesn’t turn back. ‘Sir, I am late for the meeting…’
‘To hell with you and the meeting and the widows! Am I the one who killed their husbands? I am the commander in chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and if I need you I will get you! Bring your butt back here.’ Pedro drags his butt back. ‘Sir?’
‘These hockey people,’ the president says mildly, ‘I can’t see them.’
‘Get someone to represent me.’
Pedro exhales moralistically. ‘Sir what exactly will you be doing while people are representing you up and down?’
‘I will be presidenting Nigeria.’
‘That is a new word sir.’
‘It is a presidential word. Get out of my office.’
To be continued…
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