Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 12
Sir Maigida was under no such fear, he was sure of the efficacy of his charms.
‘It has happened, sir, the elections have been postponed!’
‘Why?!’ About seven throats cried out simultaneously.
‘Something about the Electoral Commission not being prepared enough to organize free and fair elections in two days’ time. I just got a call from the Capital.’
‘That can’t be true; our state is prepared and ready!’ Chief Mike stated forcefully. His worst fears were coming to be. He remembered Ezekiel’s words and shook his head; those same words that had gladdened his heart an hour before.
Mrs Olatunde winced in an effort to control her twitching face and hurried out of the hall. She was no longer comfortable there.
‘When is the new date for the elections?’ Sir Maigida’s voice was calm.
‘It has been shifted by two weeks, sir.’
Sir Maigida shook his head slowly and left the hall for his office. With heads bowed like mourners in a funeral procession, others silently filed behind him.
Many reasons were given for the postponement of the elections. On one hand was the alleged inability of the Electoral Commission to achieve seventy percent distribution of voter cards nationwide; on the other hand was the alleged lopsidedness even in this poor distribution percentage with some party’s supporter bases being heavily favoured while others were barely served. There was also the case of the military, which had become major players in the provision of election security, declining availability on the initial date, citing active engagements elsewhere. This, some quarters insinuated, was actually an armtwisting move by the Federal Government which had previously attempted to get the Electoral Commission to postpone the elections without success; these suggested that the police was actually a better option for providing security during civil activities like elections. All of these didn’t matter – the elections had been postponed.
The shift in the dates for the elections was a game changer in the state. While the C.A appeared to have exhausted their campaign strategies, the D.A appeared just emerging. They had been short on time for the production of another documentary, but now had it. It didn’t matter, the quality of the documentary, what mattered was the message. And they had an even more powerful message this time.
Governor Paul Igbobia had invited Dr Magareth Ikpehia to the Governor’s House the very night the news of the polls shift came in. He had ordered that she be led to the second sitting room, where he usually welcomed important guests. He was already waiting when she was shown in.
‘Your Excellency, good evening, sir,’ she greeted with a disarming smile.
‘Dr Magareth, you are welcome,’ he replied, offering his hand for a handshake. ‘Please, sit down.’
She chose a setee on the left of his coat of arms customized seat and waited ever so slightly for the Governor to sit first before she did. Though in a deep blue tracksuit and brown leather slippers, he still looked every inch the Governor. How the opposition came to describe such a man as focus-less still baffled her.
‘You were able to make it so early; I was thinking you will give an excuse of Master withholding you from making it tonight?’
By “Master”, she knew the Governor referred to her husband. Her smile widened.
‘He will arrive the country tomorrow morning – has been away for almost a week now.’
‘Oh, I see…’
‘He’s a perfect gentleman and wouldn’t have stopped me even if he were around,’ she quickly added to make facts clear. ‘My husband expects me to be as professional as possible in whatever I do. He trusts me and trusts my decisions.’
‘I see,’ the Governor repeated, with light clapping. This woman would have made a very good running mate to Chief Umeh. He had never thought of it before. ‘That’s a great man!’ He had met with her husband, Dr Jude Ikpehia, only twice. A very quiet man he was; that he had noticed on both occasions.
‘Thank you, Your Excellency.’
‘Do you know that that title can sometimes sound burdensome? I’m happy I will soon be dropping it.’ His laughter rang out.
Dr Magareth Ikpehia said nothing. Behind her smile, she wondered if the Governor had invited her for mere small talk.
‘You must be wondering why I invited you this evening,’ Governor Igbobia sat up, his tone suddenly formal. It was a tone she was used to, the type he used during party meetings. ‘Have you heard of the shift in the dates of the elections?’
Her face expressed surprise. ‘Oh! Exactly what we wished for!’ She would have asked questions to be sure of the authenticity of the information had it been someone else, but not His Excellency.
‘You can say that again. That is why I called you here this evening, cos this extra two weeks must be well utilized by the party.’
So they had two extra weeks? It greatly gladdened her heart. ‘Yes, sir; I have been worried by our inability to meet with the women from most of the Local Government Areas. You know Mrs Olatunde’s sudden exit affected our plans on that.’
The Governor nodded: ‘But that’s not exactly why I invited you here.’
Dr Magareth sat up, leaning in the Governor’s direction as if she was hard on hearing. What exactly did he want?
‘You remember the strategic rumours we generated on Mrs Olatunde?’
She relaxed a bit. ‘Yes, Your Excellency.’
‘One point stood out amongst the rest – especially to me.’ He observed the lines on her face go taut in apprehension, but decided to continue at the same measured pace. ‘I have been thinking about it, and would have found out, whether or not the polls were shifted.’
Dr Ikpehia decided not to get worked up over nothing. She took in a deep breath and released it in little spurts to calm down. He could take all the time he intended, he was the Governor.
Governor Igbobia did; he apologized for having not offered her anything and asked what she would take. She declined taking anything, citing health reasons, but on his insistence accepted water. A steward served them water and withdrew. That moment, her phone rang. It was her husband. They spoke for two minutes before he hung up.
‘That was my husband, sir,’ she said apologetically.’
‘As if I didn’t know; hope there’s been no change in plans?’
‘No, Your Excellency; he’s still arriving in the morning.’
‘That’s good.’ He placed his half empty glass of water on the stool beside him and sat up. ‘Now, Dr Ikpehia, I know you will now be anxious to know why I invited you this evening?’ The official tone was back on. She nodded. ‘It is about Mrs Olatunde and drug addiction. Is she truly addicted to drugs?’
‘It is about Mrs Olatunde and drug addiction. Is she truly addicted to drugs?’
An instant frown came on her face. She hadn’t thought it would get to this when she suggested that that information be included in the rumoured documentary.
Mrs Olatunde had been a very close friend of hers, in fact her closest in the party before her departure. She had been the first to know of Mrs Olatunde’s intention to defect to the Congress for Advancement and might have joined her had her husband not strongly advised against such a move.
‘Interests may be a strong propelling force in politics,’ he had said when she hinted on a possible departure from the Democratic Alliance, ‘but I think some persons should be principled enough to negate the general impression of all politicians being selfishly wowed by pecuniary inducement.’ His countenance was unusually serious.
She had kept silent, even holding her breath, when he added: ‘It’s your life and it’s your choice to make, my dear.’ He had smiled and she had too.
The message was passed and clear, despite her husband not being forceful about it. She made a choice, the choice to swim or sink with the D.A.
If there was anyone within the party who knew about Mrs Olatunde’s can of worms, she was. They were together in Mrs Olatunde’s house one day when she observed her friend’s face start twitching; she had wondered what was wrong with her friend and was getting further alarmed when she saw Mrs Olatunde stagger towards a shelf of books. Wondering why she needed a book that moment, she was alarmed to see Mrs Olatunde fish out a syringe from behind the books. Its tip was fitted with a needle already. Mechanically, her hand went there again; this time it produced a vial, the head of which she broke off with her thumb. With her eyes shut, Mrs Olatunde had withdrawn the yellowish liquid from the vial and injected herself in her left wrist.
She had been too dazed to act, to even say anything. She watched her friend stagger to the closest chair and slump in it, with eyes shut and an ethereal smile on her lips. The twitching soon stopped. Mrs Olatunde had remained in that position for five minutes before slowly opening her eyes. Life had gradually crept back on her face and her smile had become more natural. She still nursed the syringe and vial.
‘Never mind, it happens that way sometimes,’ she explained.
Dr Magareth was shocked at what she had just witnessed; she never had an inkling that her close friend used drugs.
Mrs Olatunde went on to explain how she had been introduced to drugs while in London by an African friend of hers. Then, she had some problems with the home office and was under the threat of repartriation, a problem that eventually forced her to marry Paul Moyes, a Scottish farmer’s son who could barely afford his fees at the University. Their marriage had produced two kids – Jason and Wayne – before their eventual breakup. She had never loved Moyes, who was four years her junior; it had been a union of convenience.
‘But you could have dropped this habit by now?’ Dr Magareth finally found her voice.
‘That’s true; I have occasionally overcome the urge, but it always eventually overpowers me. You know, there are those pressures one feels that nothing else seems able to take away.
‘It’s becoming less frequent, though; sometimes I could go for weeks if there’s no upsetting catalyst.’
Dr Magareth had nodded understandingly, though unable to understand why Mrs Olatunde would allow herself to remain under the clamphold of drug addiction. Her husband, who was a medical doctor, had once educated her on the processes of overcoming drug addiction. It wasn’t a walkover, but very achievable.
Considering her status, Mrs Olatunde should have already submitted to the processes and freed herself of drug addiction.
‘Is she truly addicted to drugs?’ Governor Paul Igbobia repeated.
Dr Magareth Ikpehia nodded slowly: ‘Yes, she is, Your Excellency.’
‘Then the documentary would be produced, the documentary about her.’
Dr Magareth Ikpehia had managed to hide her surprise and, on further prodding by the Governor, had spent the next twenty minutes revealing how she came about the information.