Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 6
‘So what do you say, sir?’ He made a gesture of impatience, his brows furrowing as he cast a glance at his wristwatch.
‘Can you give me some time to think about it?’
‘Yes sir; you have twenty four hours,’ he glanced at his wristwatch again and arose. ‘I will get across same time tomorrow for your response.
Professor Imonikhe watched the young man take his leave. He was being blackmailed, a criminal act, and he knew it. He could get the police involved, but then his reputation would be lost forever. While he wasn’t sure of justice, such a case would have beamed the searchlight on his hitherto nocturnal activities. If only he could find a way out of the whole mess… Maybe he could start with a confessional statement to his wife, then to the girls’ parents. That way, he would have appeared like one who couldn’t hide wrongdoing and turn the issue into an open-secret – a sort of political advantage. Such move was going to require a lot of planning and time to get right, and the primaries was barely a fortnight away. The only quick way out was to blow out the girls, but it could turn out a most stupid move. Ezekiel would have soon been on the move to unearth his involvement. And who knew if the young man hadn’t recorded their earlier conversation? He hadn’t put that into consideration all along! No wonder politicians had ready hit-squads. Such would have ensured that Ezekiel left with no proof of their discussion, he could have even ordered them to get him downed! He was surprised at himself for contemplating such thoughts; he, who had always advocated for violence free elections. No wonder people called politics a dirty game. He reclined on his chair and shut his eyes, there had to be a way out… He could still gain a lot if his party’s candidate emerged winner in the elections; there were some juicy portfolios he could work towards holding. A glance at the wall clock showed that he still had much time, but there wasn’t much to think about. He was roped in and he knew it.
It was a big surprise next day when Chief Mike received Sir Maigida’s call, informing him of Professor Imonikhe’s decision to drop his ambition. According to Sir Maigida, the professor had cited some family issues as the reason behind his decision, but Chief Mike knew better. He wondered how Ezekiel had managed to pull off such a massive coup, as he hadn’t really expected much when he gave him go ahead to dig into the professor’s background. He had simply seen it as a move by Ezekiel to be busy at something instead of idling away in the office. Ezekiel was yet to give him feedback, but he was sure the young man was only bidding his time. They had a big laugh when, a few hours later, Ezekiel finally revealed to him the details of his meeting with Professor Imonikhe. Who would have thought that his formidable opponent could be so easily cowered? Ezekiel had even extracted a promise from the man to publicly endorse his candidature. Truly the young man was an asset!
With the professor out of the way, the primaries appeared done and dusted. Other contenders hardly appeared keen on securing the ticket. Even Ezekiel had confirmed same when he told his boss that they were likely in the race for economic reasons. Very soon, according to him, they would be making moves to strike deals to be on the priority list for government contracts. This, Ezekiel said, was the case even in the ruling party. Pretenders, he called them, political pretenders. And so it turned out, for while they stuck on till the primaries, rejecting entreaties to step down and prompting him to spend more cash, they were the first to congratulate Chief Mike on his victory after a hard-fought primary. Those Press sympathetic to the cause of the C.A described the transparent manner in which their candidate for the gubernatorial elections emerged as victory for democracy. As The Patriotic Voice Newspaper put it:
The intra-party primaries by the Congress for Advancement have shown that they mean business. They have, for the first time in the history of our dear state, shown that party primaries can be conducted without rancour and the verdict accepted by all – even those contenders who lost out. According to the State party chairman, Sir Maigida, it was a victory for democracy. He was emphatic that the focus isn’t on who emerged, but on what the party represents and how they intend to go about rescuing the state from the many years of hardship the Democratic Alliance have visited upon the people. He has promised the people A NEW DIRECTION, which coincidentally is the campaign slogan of the governorship candidate, Chief Mike.
Responding to questions from the media, Chief Mike admitted that the party knew there was a great task ahead, but was equally sure that they possessed the will and means to surmount them all. He appreciated all other contenders and called on them to join him in the push to rescue the state from misgovernance and lead her in a new direction. This charge has been accepted by all…
.This charge has been accepted by all…
While his entire focus had been on obtaining the party’s nod to represent her at the polls, Chief Mike felt like a fledgling when, after the primaries, he now had a new opponent to face – Chief Umeh, the Secretary to the State Government and candidate of the Democratic Alliance. Unlike his, Chief Umeh’s candidature was embroiled in controversy. He hadn’t even been a contender until after the sales of his party’s forms were officially over. It was rumoured that his purchase of the governorship form through the back door and eventual emergence as the party’s candidate, was orchestrated by Governor Igbobia, who wanted one of his cronies to succeed him. This caused some intra-party rows, leading to certain prominent party members threatening to pull off the D.A. While creating an air of indifference publicly, it was understood that frantic moves were being made, within the party, to reconcile such differences, even while maintaining the status quo concerning Chief Umeh’s candidacy. Opposition sympathetic press were having a field day reporting on the squabbles within the ruling party. It didn’t matter how unverifiable their sources were, but the conjectures were so repeated that many took them as fact. The Democratic Alliance soon came to be regarded by many as the “Demons Crazy Affiliation”, “Robbers Alliance” and a gathering of undemocratic elements, who couldn’t even guarantee democratic principles within the party.
There were insinuations of massive decamping, especially by the supporters of those who felt aggrieved by the party’s handling of the primaries; these were so much repeated by different media that not even the denial by the Democratic Alliance could change the opinion of many concerning this.
Ezekiel sensed his boss’ fears and quickly allayed them.
‘I don’t see anything to be worried about, sir,’ he told him that morning in his office. It was only a week after the party primaries. ‘Politics just like business require good planning for success, and I believe we have a better team.’
‘I know, but the C.A has always been an opposition party in this state, how do you think the tide can be turned this time?’
‘I think that would be to our advantage this time. When you look around you will see the general discontent with the government of the day; the untarred roads, the poor street lighting, the bad drainages, the mounting unemployment rate and many others. These are things the average man on the street expects from the government, and for which they pay taxes.’
‘But they can also point at some projects that have singled them out from previous administrations like the Water For All scheme that has ensured that eighty percent of the state have access to portable water, the My School, My Pride move that has carried out reconstruction and renovation of most of the government owned schools and even the AgricBoost Scheme just launched for the farmers of the state?’
‘That’s the beauty of politics, sir. We have to work hard to make their achievements appear meagre and inconsequential. That’s why we have a publicity wing, that’s why the party invests so much in the media.’