8 MARCH, 2021
ASO ROCK PRESIDENTIAL VILLA, ABUJA
Who can be powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods, except he first binds him? Except the invader be exceedingly mad.
Until now, President Garba Lai didn’t see this day coming. He didn’t see the cloudy mass hanging in leaden sprinkles about the skies. But he has always been prepared. He always has a special weapon.
Right within the screen, the news anchor breaks a stirring news:
“A leaked and viral video of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Garba Lai, stabbing the Inspector General of Police to death, has surfaced. And now the nation is plunged into an uproar.
“The Inspector General, Lateef Chukwu, is filmed on his knees pleading frantically for his life right in front of a man, shown to be the current Nigerian President, Garba Lai, alongside his aide de camp, Baba Tairu, and a few other armed thugs. The president is then seen to stride behind the trussed Inspector General and stab him twice in the back, after which he kicks his remains, leaving him for—”
“Kill that thing, Tairu!”
Without protest, Tairu grabs a glassware from the center table and hurls it at the TV.
“Done, Your Excellency,” he says, eyeing the messy floor. “But … it could be dangerous next time, sir.”
President Garba downs a cup of wine. “I have three orders.”
“Please go ahead, Your Excellency.”
“What TV station was that?”
“Well, force them into my media blacklist.”
“Yessir. Em … I trust you have a stronger order to give.”
“You’re in no position to rate my words.” President Tairu waves a hand. “Tell the Chief Security Officer to block off the press; they’d be flitting around anytime soon.”
“Yessir. And the last one?”
“Call the office of the Chief of Staff. Right away.”
Tairu leans close. “Your Excellency, do you trust him?”
“Okon will always be a confidante. Just do as I say.
PRESS CONFERENCE, PRESIDENTIAL VILLA
Chief of Staff, Okon Dimba, tall and lean in his X-sized suit, swaggers to the platform, head high. But the curious glares from the excited reporters force his eyes down onto his manuscript.
“Good morning, fellow Nigerians,” he says, making a bow. The ramming of fingers against keys seems to impede his focus. “We understand that the tension stemming from the presidential scandal requires our immediate response; hence, I am here for that on behalf of the President.”
Murmurs rumble like a plane in the clouds and flashes from camera shutters are everywhere. A reporter rockets her hand. “Why are you here instead of the President?”
Okon sports a faint smirk. Not unexpected. I’ve been prepared. “Let’s just get straight to the point—”
“Did Mr President truly murder the Inspector General?” asks a reporter from the far corner.
“Does Mr President admit the video evidence is valid?” another asks.
“I think the President shouldn’t be deflecting his duty of addressing the country at heated times as this. What do you think, Mr. Okon?”
Okon juts his jaw, eyeing the reporters as they take turns throwing their hands up and blaring questions. The outcome of this press conference really would have no negative on him. That fatuous president must be in his study now, watching him play according to the script. But he is prepared to disappoint him. You’ve given me a rare privilege to toss you down the cliff, Mr President.
An MBS pressman jolts up his seat as if stunned. “The people are currently running riot, don’t you know? The mass reactions are incensed on media platforms. Won’t the President give a statement?”
Okon drums his lean fingers against the lectern. He can only keep his calm this way. “Let’s take this slow. I’ll answer every question posed, so let’s be gentlemanly.”
“Okay, go on please.”
Okon waves the manuscript he brought with him. “The President expects me to play according to this script. He forgot it isn’t easy to put up with rubbish—”
“Are you trying to expose the President?”
“I’ll continue. Please don’t cut in,” Okon retorts. “I have a top secret to gift to Nigerians.”
Camera flashlights flicker on as the pressmen type wildly. Okon dips a hand in his pocket and fishes out a USB stick which he waves at once. “Herein lies the full surveillance video of President Garba Lai’s horrendous murder of the Late Inspector General Lateef Chukwu in the late hours of Tuesday the 1st of March, 2023.”
“Outrageous it is, and we assume you know a lot. So please say, why would the President kill the Inspector General?”
“There’s classified information on the President’s financial support of terrorists. Late Lateef Chukwu was out to investigate when—”
“Would you defend the authenticity at all costs?”
Okon nods at the reporter. “I did the recording myself.”
ASO ROCK PRESIDENTIAL VILLA, ABUJA
Baba Tairu rushes into the President’s study and flings shut the door behind his burly self. “Are you watching the press conference, Your Excellency?”
President Garba Lai rolls his eyes at the aide. This is what ten years of familiarity can cause. Disrespect. Anyways … “You’ve been serving me since my days in the Ministry of Works; say, have you ever seen me panic?”
Tairu flickers a brow. “Never … Your Excellency. Em, pardon my lack of calm.” He sights a new TV fitted to the wall. “You changed it so fast. How come I didn’t know?”
“Huh?” President Garba waves his hands and points at the screen. “Okon Dimba seems to be in the spotlight this time. All Nigerians are watching him as he stabs me in the back.” He drains a bottle of beer.
“What’s your plan?” Tairu asks.
“You should just wait and see what my grand plan is this time.”
“I know you never disappoint. But em … considering—”
A cell phone rings and President Garba hands it over to Tairu. “Put on the loudspeaker and answer it.”
A voice creaks from the phone’s speaker. “Target marked, Mr President.” A pause. “Do we move now?”
Lips parted in a full feral grin, President Garba springs to his feet and starts to pace around. This intended move isn’t the last resort, he thinks. But it’s the best and most timely. Sacrifices, no matter how outrageous, are necessary for the big picture. Who forced me to a corner in the first place? Screw that! “At the count of three,” he says. “Strike the target. Not just Aso Rock needs to feel the effect, all Nigerians must.” He draws close to Tairu and blares into the hush speaker. “One! … Two! … Three—”
BOOM is the sound, but soon, sounds of burning and clanking and falling follow.
Tairu staggers backwards, falling upon an also staggering Garba Lai. And as he struggles to get up, a beer bottle trips him over. He struggles to his knees this time, face crumpled and mouth parted in disbelief as he rams a glare onto his master who remains on the floor. “Did … did you order a bomb blast?” he asked. “Did you—”
“That’s too big!”
“Nothing is too big to be foregone in the face of the big picture, Baba Tairu.” He eases his obese mass onto a sofa chair. “Swallow your fears, uh.”
“But how is this sacrifice worth it?” Tairu asks, eyes bulged.
This time, the TV breathes a third party between the duo. And President Garba signals for Tairu to pay attention to the news.
A grey-bearded man clad in buba soon fits into the screen.
“Welcome to SBS Breaking News. Devastating airstrikes have reportedly rocked the inside and environs of Aso Rock Presidential Villa, leaving thirty-six people feared dead.”
The news anchor fades off the screen and is replaced by a live video of the disaster. A bawdy looking youth stands between the camera and the burning Villa, microphone raised below chin. “According to insiders’ report, Mr President could be safe since the attack didn’t touch on the very residence.
“But a press conference was being observed at the time of the blast and within the circumference of the strike. Few minutes ago, Nigerian Chief of Staff, Okon Dimba, had declared he’d be revealing a top secret. But it is possible that Mr Okon Dimba alongside the several pressmen have become victims of this outrageous attack on our dear state.
“What becomes of the top secret? What becomes of the presidential scandal? Is Mr Okon a part of this game? Was he really going to REVEAL a secret? Is it political opponents causing a ruckus? Are some overlords playing with the minds of we Nigerians all for the sake of political benefits? First a viral scandal.” The reporter turns to face the villa, pointing at it. “And now a grand attack on the President—”
“And that’s how it works!” President Garba Lai claps as he collapses in a fit of giggles. What an accomplishment!
“I see the real deal now,” Tairu says, noodling. “Soon everything is forgotten.”
“Right, right! Even if Okon survives this strike, I’ll end up silencing him. Brassmouth already placed a cage around his family.”
“So when do I need take action?”
“When all seems to be a waste.”
Tairu cocks his head. “What does Your Excellency mean?”
“This seems like a temporary solution. I trust it won’t end here. But when it happens, we always have our Plan B—the ones in my cage.” President Garba puffs a breath. “Madness does suppress madness.”
Tairu nods as he retrieves a beer bottle from a refrigerator in the corner. “Yes,” he says, turning to look at the grinning President. “The Inspector General was a madman, too.”
grew up in Ogun State, Nigeria. He is an author and creative writer, and presently an English Language undergraduate. He began writing as a teenager, and has contributed a number of works to literary journals including Spillwords, League of Poets, UpWrite Nigeria and Nnoko Stories. He is the author of the writer’s guide, A Writer’s Sourcebook of Mood and Responses.