I woke up very early that morning, seeing that my mother had invited four pastors to pray for me so that my ways will be fully cleared from all spiritual forces that may want to put up a standard against me on my first day at work for the president. My aunty came in shortly after the prayers had begun, with her own pastors to announce to the Heavens that that I’m set for the most important assignment of my life. The prayer was long, thunderous and at some point, I had to rumble a copy of the president’s speech in my hand and drag my feet repeatedly on the floor to notify them that time was the master here. Afterwards I sauntered into the room to dress up. My mum held my hands and warned me to behave myself when I got there.
“You know you have caused us enough problems as you keep lampooning every administration you have witnessed. Please this time around, listen to instructions and see how you can use your skills to help this government meet her expectations of Nigerians,” my mum said.
I smiled as I heard her concern. She wants the best out of me and I had seen her worked tirelessly to see me succeed. But my country is a funny lot and I’m out to make a difference.
I got to the departure terminal at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport. The airport was wearing a cosmetic look. The control tower had some deep cracks in its glass and I could see workers running helter skelter up there. I became apprehensive; perhaps something had gone wrong again. It has always been so, each flying experience is a risk and you can only land if you are lucky. I got on the queue then I saw someone wave at me with a wide smile resting on her fabulous cheeks. It was Amina Yusuf, my classmate at the Law School.
“What have you come to do at the airport?” she asked.
“Oh! I should be asking you.”
“Yes! I get it.” Amina said. “I read in the newspapers yesterday that you have been appointed the personal representative to the president on media matters. Congratulations!”
She stretched forth her hand to shake me. I reach out for it and her eyes sparkled amorously.
“You are right, thank you!” I cheered.
Amina had just been appointed the director of the legal unit with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and she would have to get to Abuja early that Monday morning. We got on board almost the same time. Amina was looking exquisite. She wore a pair of jeans and a t-shirt that held her body like lingerie. She spoke with an Hausa accent, not so thick but truly of a rich young lady from the wealthiest of backgrounds. As our flight took off, she smiled broadly and her cheeks rose mischievously on her well-sculptured face. Amina had changed jobs repeatedly after graduation for different reasons. Now she intended to settle for this one and make meaning out of it. She needed all the concentration and skills required to push through this new job.
It was stormy on air and we made adjustments repeatedly before we landed at Abuja.
I alighted and a black Prado Jeep from the Villa drove up to pick me to the Aso Rock. Amina hailed me and left. I hopped into the Jeep and the driver moved, after an exchange of pleasantries between us. The interior of the sedan had all the nuances of royalty and I was certain I was in for a swell time at the Villa. I was wrong!
“You are Evans right?” the driver asked.
“And you are the new media representative of the President.”
The driver’s voice was deep – a rich bass reverberated through the atmosphere as he spoke. I thought this dude should be a broadcaster not a driver, though I equally thought it was fair since he drove for the presidency. Then again, I wasn’t convinced given that his appearance had no stint of good living in it .
“And who are you?” I asked.
“I’m the first lady’s driver.”
“Oh I see! And you were assigned to come and pick me?”
“Yes. It really doesn’t matter who comes to pick you, what matters is that you are taken to the appropriate place.”
“You are right.”
I was taken through security checks and then directed to an office opposite the State Security Service post at the villa. As I walked, I sternly observed the masterly edifice at the Villa. The grasses were fresh and green, the lawn laced with assorted flowers radiating luxuriantly. The exotic cars, artistic artifacts, wonderful lighting, expensive marble tiles and the automated elevator kept the villa in a class of its own.
I was directed to use the elevator up to the third floor. The marshal gave me tag number 5 and asked me to sit at the lounge with two other visitors. I greeted the duo and made my way to the chair. Now I had resolved to put up my best behaviour to clinch this job at all cost.
One of the men waiting stared at me.
“Are you the new media representative?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“That’s good. What do you think about the new president? Do you think he will deliver on his promises?”
I looked at his eyes and not knowing where his loyalty lay, I answered him hesitantly.
“The President has just been sworn into office and no one can tell if he will deliver or not,” I said.
“No, that’s not what I mean. In your own assessment do you think he will succeed?”
“You may need to get him to answer that because I don’t see how I can get to respond to you on this when I have not seen the government’s programme for this administration.”
Shortly after that, I was called into the office and I met Mohammed (not the president) He wore a white Agbada and a cap to march. The wall blended perfectly with the colour of his attire. The wide mahogany table glittered radiantly and the floor was made of precious stones reminiscent of the Arabian ceramics.
“Good morning,” I greeted him.
“Yes, let’s go straight to business. What can you do as a media expert?”
I thought the question was strict and unfriendly.
“I can hold strongly onto the ethics of this profession without compromise. I can hold this government accountable to the people. This is the primary responsibility of the media by the provisions of section section 22 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended-”
“Hold it! That’s not what I mean. I mean how will you defend my government before the people of Nigeria?”
“Excuse me! The question should be how will I tell Nigerians the truth about their government. We should not defend the government sir. We should tell Nigerians the truth about their government.”
“Mr. Man, will you answer my questions before I lose my temper?”
“Sir, you will need your temper to fix the problems of this country, it should not be lost. Nigerians are tired of their government and any government that wants to be defended may not survive the rage of the masses. I would rather work for your government and hold it accountable to the people and not defend its decisions and errors.”
“I think you are mad. Do you know the consequences of wasting my time?”
“Sir, I know the consequences of lack of performance in office in Nigeria today. I’m not wasting your time; you need to know that Nigerians expect so much from you and the slightest excuse may lead to uprising. It is no longer business as usual. I read your inaugural speech. Your speech writers were perhaps carried away by the euphoria of the moment and failed to research thoroughly. I saw this clause, ‘the past is prologue.’ What was that sir? This is what they wrote: ‘A few people have privately voiced fear that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying of old scores, the past is prologue.’ This is what I mean. People will see this and leech on you and your team.”
“Now get out of my office dan buro uba!”
“No! You are the one who should get out to work. This nation is sinking, education is in cold blood, power is a no go area, the roads are death traps, employment is a war zone, health care is gridlocked, aviation is a joke, security is nonexistent and you ask me to get out of your office? No! I shall start my job now.”
“I have allowed you to mess around with my time. I shall now call the security to throw you out.”
“You are wrong Mr. President. I’m messing around so that you will not mess us up .Your predecessor messed us up and it haunted him until he was thrown out vociferously and if you mess up, we will throw you out faster than you can ever imagine. That is the truth! Ah! Mr. President I need water. This job is strenuous. Give me water.”
As I stood there asking for water the door opened and four hefty men stepped in.
“Take him away!” He yelled at them. He threw my file towards me and the documents scattered all over my head. I began to shout.
“My certificate is there! Leave me alone!”
Before I knew it I was ranting, my feet above the ground as they bundled me out of the office. I kept shouting.
“I’m doing my job, leave me alone! This is wrong!”
Suddenly I heard my mum shout at me. “Who is holding you?”
Then I woke up.
About the Writer: Evans Ufeli is a lawyer and the author of acclaimed novel, ‘Without Face’. He is also an Alumni member of the Writers Bureau, Manchester, a highly sought-after conference speaker with a passion for the concept of change. He lives in Victoria Island, Lagos. You can contact him via Facebook: Evans Ufeli, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Evansufeli and Phone: 08037712353. He blogs at www.ethicsafrica4u.wordpress.com.
Evans Ufeli is a lawyer and the author of acclaimed novel, ‘Without Face’. He is also an Alumni member of the Writers Bureau, Manchester, a highly sought-after conference speaker with a passion for the concept of change. He lives in Victoria Island, Lagos. You can visit his blog or contact him via Facebook or Twitter by clicking the icons below; send an email to email@example.com or call 08037712353