Like Husband, Like Wife By Tunde Odesola
Five bangs and a drum roll heralded the national anthem. Men in starched babariga and kaftans stood up with hands on the rib cages housing their pulseless hearts. None sang along because the anthem meant nothing to them. The anthem was just an irritating noise. Only three and a half of them could even sing it, anyway. After the anthem ended, they all sat down like gravediggers, unfazed by the air of sadness and death in the land. There were a few milkless women among them.
General Khaki, the Head of the Federal Executive Cancel, jets out to London again. His deputy, O/C Legal aka Ojulari, is holding down the fort. The meeting, which was held inside the executive chamber, was on Zoom, a video conference platform because General Khaki was on medical tourism; he couldn’t yet trust his health to any Nigerian hospital after seven years of yearly budgets to revamp the health sector.
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When the image of General Khaki came up on their devices, all the ministers stood up and clapped. In acknowledgement, Khaki smiles and says, “Yo wa,” as he fiddles with his hand-held device. O/C Legal tells him, “Your Excellency, your device is upside down, sir. Turn it up, sir. We’re all ready for the meeting, Your Excellency.”
Khaki smiles again, “These children’s toys you people call computers are too tricky. When you’re trying to master one, they come up with another version. Me, I’m used to Alpha, Bravo, Charlie…Tango.”
OC/Legal: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie…are the best computers, sir.
Khaki: Me, I know; you don’t need to tell me. And nobody knows how to use Alpha-Bravo-Charlie more than me in military school, Zaria.
All the ministers, security chiefs, and chief of staff clapped.
Khaki: What are we discussing today?
OC/Legal: Sir, we don’t have anything on our plate today.
Khaki: Ha! Why? Why is our plate empty? Are you watching your weight; Kana duba weight dinka ne? Don’t starve yourself and get ulcer o. As for me, although doctors said I should watch what I eat, I don’t joke with tuwo shinkafa and cow milk.
All the cabinet members laughed.
OC/Legal: (Smiles) Yes, sir. Tuwo is the food eaten in heaven, I’m sure.
OC/Legal: I humbly wish to express the profound appreciation of this cabinet for your unequalled leadership of our dear and beloved country. How I wish our constitution guaranteed lifetime presidency, and Naija would’ve been further transformed by your vision and mission, sir.
Khaki: Thank you, OC/Legal. Thank you, my cabinet members. Wisdom cometh only from Allah. What are the issues we’re discussing today?
OC/Legal: There’s nothing to discuss, Your Excellency; under your watch, Nigeria has become a land flowing with milk and honey.
Khaki: Yo wa! It’s not by my power, it’s by the grace of Allah. If there’s nothing more to discuss, I’ll excuse myself. I have a crew of international journalists waiting to interview me. You know I prefer foreign media to our iginorant journalists back home, just like my wife prefers Dubai to Daura.
OC/Legal: Oh, never mind those overzealous press boys, sir. But, I wish to crave your indulgence to allow cabinet members to join you in the interview via Zoom, sir.
Khaki: Permission expressly granted.
Cabinet members clap like excited schoolchildren.
White journalists came on the set. A beautiful female journalist fixes microphones on the dress of General Khaki, and asks him if he wants some fruit drink and make-up.
Khaki: That’s why I love foreign media – so respectful and caring. Which media will offer you a drink or make-up in Nigeria? All they know is attack, attack, attack; Buhari, Buhari, Buhari!
Journalist: I think all is set, Mr Buhari. We’re ready to roll.
Khaki: Yo wa!
BBCee: I learnt ‘yo wa’ is a Hausa expression that means good. You seem to be at home with your language and culture.
Khaki: You’re very correct.
BBCee: Then, why are you fond of travelling abroad?
Khaki: The president of the largest black nation in the world is a global citizen because my citizens are in every country on the globe.
BBCee: There’s no problem with you being a global citizen, Mr President. But, don’t you think your people need you more at home than abroad?
Khaki: Don’t mind them. My people are lazy. They shouldn’t wait for me always. They should be able to do things by themselves. I’ve worked tirelessly for them for six good years. This seventh year is my sabbath. I’m going to use it to rest.
BBCee: If you rest in your seventh year, what would you do in your eighth year?
Khaki: Install my candidate as president.
BBCee: Your wife has made Dubai home…
Khaki: Dubai is an emirate.
BBCee: But it’s not your country.
Khaki: Allah doesn’t discriminate.
BBCee: Wives of governors flew to Dubai to celebrate with your wife over her birthday.
Khaki: It shows our women no longer belong to the kitchen alone.
BBCee: Isn’t that trip a waste of public funds?
Khaki: Did you see the clothes they wore to Dubai?
BBCee: Yes, I did.
Khaki: They wore home-sewn clothes to project our culture to the outside world.
BBCee: Projecting your culture to the outside world when your country is burning?
Khaki: That must be the handiwork of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho. If I lay my hands on that Igboho boy, he’ll smell pepper.
BBCee: No, I mean your country is figuratively on fire.
Khaki: Who is burning the figures? That means they want to steal money. I’ll catch them, I can assure you.
BBCee: What’s your government doing to arrest the spate of ritual killings across the country? After a postgraduate student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Timothy Adegoke, was killed in Hilton Hotel, Ile-Ife, many citizens have been killed, with the latest being a young lady, Bamise Ayanwole, who met her death in a commercial bus owned by Lagos State.
Khaki: The OAU student was killed in Osun while the lady was killed in Lagos. Nobody was killed in Abuja, where I reside. I can assure you that Abuja is safe.
BBCee: So, your government is doing nothing in terms of sensitisation, investigation and justice?
Khaki: Ritualists don’t live in the forest. They live among the people. People should expose them.
BBCee: If Nigerian greats like Awolowo, Balewa, Azikiwe, Achebe, Soyinka etc were killed when they were young, the country would’ve been robbed of their prowess.
Khaki: We thank Allah they were not killed when they were young.
BBCee: Why is your government foot-dragging on the issue of Abba Kyari even now that he’s been indicted by the NDLEA? Former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, was disgraced and dismissed from service.
Khaki: We’re being careful not to trample on Kyari’s rights. He’s a young man with a bright future.
BBCee: ASUU is again on strike. Also, roads, hospitals, electricity, poverty and unemployment are worse than how you met them.
Khaki: Government is a continuum.
BBCee: Minister of Education, Adamu, walked out on NANS members…
Khaki: He has received a letter of commendation for the way he treated the stupid students. I would’ve promoted him if he had knelt them down and caned them. That type of confrontational attitude was why Desmond Idiot called them children.
BBCee: How come bad fuel was imported into Nigeria?
Khaki: That would tell you why I escaped from the country. Nigeria will kill you if you don’t keep your head.
BBCee: That’s about all we have for you, Mr President. Thanks for granting the interview at short notice.
Khaki: You’re welcome, anytime.
The cabinet members rose in jubilation, back-slapping one another, and congratulating General Khaki for the wonderful interview.
Next day, newspapers splashed the interview on cover pages with various headlines: “We’ll respect Kyari’s rights – General Khaki”, “Baba supports governors wives’ wasteful trip to Aisha in Dubai,” etc.
Out in the cold, battered by the whirlwind, Nigeria holds on to the last straw at the precipice, having lost her foothold. Will she fail or flourish?
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