Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 9
continues from last episode
…were getting him angry and, of course, dangerous.
They had to be checked, and for that had he invited the party executive members to the Governor’s House. He was more assured of the privacy of their discussions there; he didn’t want to give any room to the ever sniffing press, determined to turn every piece of news against the D.A. They would use the underground hall, the entrance to which he had installed body scanners. He trusted no one anymore – some quotes used by the papers had obviously been supplied by moles within the party. The scanners would ensure that no one entered the hall with any recording devices, not even their mobile phones. He didn’t want the case of the neighbouring state’s governor befalling him; the man, who was seeking reelection, was caught on tape negotiating with some thugs on their pay after successfully disrupting a rally by the opposition. The audio had gone viral and with news coming from that state, the governor’s reelection hopes was in tatters. He couldn’t afford same with Chief Umeh. Aside the kickbacks an Umeh administration would provide to his pockets, there was the feeling of fulfillment for successfully choosing his successor. It was even more necessary, as many within the party had objected to his candidature in the first place. He had had his eyes on the Senate, but had decided to allow the current seat holder from his constituency go for a second term, after a signed agreement to step down for him during the next elections. Everything appeared working according to plan until the sudden and vigorous shake-up of the polity by the C.A.
The party chairman, Engineer Osagie Adams, smiled as he arose to the applause of other members of the state executive committee. The prayers had just been said and the meeting could commence officially. He cleared his throat.
‘Progress!’ Reverberated across the hall.
‘I want to thank you all for honouring this meeting,’ he began. ‘As was communicated to us, the leader of the party in the state, His Excellency, attaches a lot of importance to today’s meeting, and that informed his warning to sanction any member of the executive committee who failed to show up; I’m glad we all heeded that warning… Some members chuckled, but quickly sobered up when they observed the unsmiling face of the Governor. He hadn’t meant it to be a joke when he made the threat; he had intended to fully bring his weight to bear on any errant member of the executive committee.
‘We all know the times we are in, and like it is said; desperate times call for desperate measures. We can deliver, we will deliver and we must deliver. D.A!’
‘With all protocols duly observed, I humbly hand over the baton to His Excellency, Governor Paul Igbobia.’
For the first time, since the commencement of the meeting, the Governor smiled. He cleared his throat and patiently awaited the end to their rapturous clapping. Were they truly excited or were they just playing to the gallery?
‘I want to thank the party chairman for this opportunity to speak…’ He was once again interrupted by their applause. He signalled an end to it with a raised hand. ‘I also want to thank every one of you for lending me your ears. I called this meeting for one purpose – to stem the turning tide. I am not one that would mince words – the tide is truly turning.
‘You have all been witnesses to the campaign rallies we have carried out all around the state and must have noticed what I noticed: the receptions haven’t been as passionate as they were four years ago, the crowds have gradually lessened despite the lure of greater monetary gains than ever, we have been practically struggling when we should be coasting; and the big question is why.’ His eyes ran through the faces of the party executives. ‘That question, I will now throw to every one of you: Why?’
The party executives shot glances at one another. The two females amongst them, Mrs Jane Olatunde, the Women’s Wing Coordinator and Dr Magareth Ikpehia, the Director of Strategy, exchanged whispers. After some seconds, the Publicity Secretary, Erasmus Ohiokede arose.
‘One thing I’ve noticed, Your Excellency, is that our people seem to have evolved a new political culture in which they prefer sitting at home to view the rallies on their TV sets than coming out to the fields or stadia…’
‘That’s not true!’ Mrs Olatunde countered, shooting up. ‘That’s exactly what I’ve been discussing with Dr Ikpehia; the truck pushers and others doing menial jobs are usually out under the glaring sun during our rallies. Why won’t such come for the rallies when they stand to make more than twice their daily profits in the few hours the rallies usually take?’
‘You didn’t have to attack me like that to express your views,’ Erasmus began, before being interrupted again.
‘I didn’t attack you; I only pointed out the error in your opinion.’
‘But you could have done so in a more civilized manner?’
‘Are you now insinuating that I’m uncivilized? Is that what you are trying to say, Mr Erasmus Ohiokede?’ Her voice had gone up to intolerable decibels.
‘Will you both shut up and sit down now?’ The Governor bellowed. The duo took their seats. ‘What has come over you? Instead of proffering solutions to our present problem, you are here quarreling like market women?’
‘He was the first to call me uncivilized; imagine such rudeness – after living in London for over ten years!’ It was Mrs Olatunde.
‘Your Excellency,’ intervened the Chairman, ‘I have severally warned Mrs Olatunde to desist from venting her spleen at the slightest provocation – now it’s a pity it has come to your notice. I would suggest that she excuses us for a while to cool off, she may return when she feels better…’
‘Oh, so it’s now about me? I can’t understand the f--k about how you treat women! Must you always be chauvinistic in your views?’ Everyone watched her, dumbfounded. ‘Because I’m a woman, you think you can treat me as you please?’
‘And you coordinate the women? You are forthwith suspended from that position, too,’ Governor Igbobia was furious. ‘You may now proceed out of this hall!’
‘You may now proceed out of this hall!’
She did leave the hall, but after a long hiss that jarred most of those in the meeting. These turned next to the Governor, to see his reaction.
He only smiled, shook his head and said: ‘Women…where did we stop?’
The major decision taken at the meeting was to repay the opposition in its own coin. They had been attacking personalities and misconstruing facts, using the media – mainly the newspapers. The ruling party had to counter this move by attacking them too and lying when applicable, this time using the state owned television and radio stations.
Mrs Olatunde never returned to the hall, in fact, she never returned to the Governor’s house. With her face on the cover pages of many newspapers three days later, her defection to the Congress for Advancement was announced with headlines like: I COULD TAKE IT NO MORE – Jane Olatunde; THE STORM THICKENS FOR THE SINKING SHIP – Mrs J. Olatunde; WOMEN COORDINATOR FLEES DESPERATE ALLIANCE…
The storm generated by Mrs Olatunde’s defection soon settled. The campaigns were still ongoing. Many opinion polls favoured the C.A as they continued to drive the nail deeper into the D.A’s coffin. Many sinister revelations, attributed to Mrs Olatunde, soon emerged about the ruling party. There were stories on the Governor’s support for his former S.S.G being hinged on an agreement reached by them when the more experienced and older Chief Umeh had sponsored him for the seat on the understanding that he would in turn support Chief Umeh’s eldest son on the expiration of his two terms. This plan was said to have almost been ruptured when Chief Umeh lost his eldest son to a plane crash the previous year, but that the man had been urged by the Governor to take his son’s place, so he could pass on the baton to his second son after four years. What the papers failed to note was that Chief Umeh had only returned to the country at the closing stages of Governor Igbobia’s first term in office and had spent over twenty years before that in the United States of America. When the story won’t stick, new stories of plans by Paul Igbobia to massively rig the elections soon emerged; to achieve this, the papers claimed that plans had been perfected to bring in thugs in the guise of students on excursion from some neighbouring states. These students, it was reported, would be armed with weapons already purchased and stored in the Governor’s House. This plot was to be coordinated by Jim Okafor, the Commissioner of Housing.
The government initially decided not to dignify the rumour with a response, but this the papers soon took up with claims that, having been caught pants down, the Paul Igbobia administration was wishing the people would forget their sinister plot and thereby catch them unawares with its implementation. That was vain wishing according to The Patriotic Voice Newspaper. The people, it claimed, must be made aware of how they were being governed by a cabal that was bent on remaining in power even if it meant destroying the entire state in the process of doing so. In a bid to douse the tension, Governor Paul Igbobia finally came on air after over a week to deny the slanderous insinuations by the C.A. He decried the desperation by the C.A for the seat of power which had resulted in their despicable inability to separate facts from rumours. He pointed out that the said Jim Okafor was no longer a member of his cabinet, wondering how uninformed the papers could be. He concluded by advising the media to always confirm their stories before publishing such, to avoid appearing amateurish to discerning members of the public. The papers bared their fangs again next day, claiming that the response had come too late. According to the Quarterly Herald, the response was so delayed to enable the focusless cabal clear every proof of their evil intentions. They advised the people to remain vigilant as the desperate alliance would never run out of ideas on ways to perpetrate their godless and selfish desires.
They however promised never to give up on their drive to keep the people informed of such moves.
Two days after that, the newspapers were awash with stories of Jim Okafor’s defection to the Congress for Advancement. According to him, he had seen the light and had decided to join the move to steer the ship of state in a new direction. And a few days more, Mrs Janet Olatunde was chosen by the Chairman as Chief Mike’s running mate. He wasn’t happy about it – he thought her too wild and loud for a woman, but Sir Maigida impressed it on him that her choice was strategic. She was loud alright, but it made more people hear her; she was ambitious, but that could only work to his favour as she would want to go extra lengths to get them in office; and she had been the Women’s Wing leader of the ruling party meaning she would be more experienced at handling the women at the grassroots!