In this story, we are taken to the seat of power. We have a quick glimpse at the president and his staff from the view of a non-Nigerian character. In this well written story, I see salient corruption. What about you, what do you see?
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It takes one fucking lunatic to fuck shit up.
That was what Clifford Bay always said whenever I tried to tell him to stop working himself up about stuff.
Here I am sitting in this room, watching the men in white crisscross its length. Fuck, I need a drag, but I know this is neither the place, nor the time.
Plus my cigars are in the presidential ride.
The past hour has been like the longest in my life.
Sitting beside me is Mr. Aminu Tambuwal. He’s the speaker of something…I didn’t really catch that. We didn’t really engage in much conversation. He rode in another car and mostly didn’t speak. So much for being a speaker.
I glanced at him and saw he was looking at me. Shit. He’s probably thinking the white man brought bad luck to their country with his presence or whatever it is these juju-loving people like to say when shit hits the fan.
And it might be apt that the white man brought them bad luck. I mean, considering their president’s name…
I flew into this country a day ago, despite the Ebola scare, to speak with its president. I heard he isn’t really an accessible man, but when you fly into any country (except, and arguably at that, maybe Russia) as an emissary of Kurt&Stone, nobody is inaccessible.
My mission looked difficult when I was flying from the USA, but when I arrived Nigeria and saw the grinning face of the President, his skin unsettlingly shiny under the shadow cast by his fedora, I knew my job was going to be a cakewalk.
When I flipped open the gift briefcase, he sat up and beamed some more. No, seriously, that man had to have more than the standard 32.
By the time I shoved the documents in his hand and started talking about what my employers wanted him to do, I had the vague feeling he understood fuck-all. His special adviser was even more participatory (he asked me if the ‘little policies’ I wanted changed negatively affected domestic trade – I lied that they wouldn’t, of course) but I really felt like my company needn’t have bothered with the Greek gifts: here was a country willing to help you undress so you could fuck it.
It took all of one day for me to get the President of Nigeria’s signature to import our brand of capitalism to its shores, no questions asked, and while the press releases were still in the backburner and I had made the call to Clifford to calm his frayed nerves, I noticed that the terror situation in Nigeria was worse than CNN reported.
And CNN is king of embellishment .
Clifford wasn’t particularly excited to hear this, of course, and he told me to tread as diplomatically catfooted as possible.
“It’s in the bag Clifford,” I laughed. “Pop an antacid and go screw your wife.”
“That’s the problem with you, Merridew. Everything’s funny to you.”
“Yeah. We’re going to have some fun at a Presidential Club, now that you mention it.”
“Be careful, kid. It takes one fucking lunatic to fuck shit up. And if the papers are right, that country doesn’t exactly have a loon scarcity.”
I clicked off and found one of the president’s security muscles at the doorway. It was time for us to go have some fun.
It was a little PDP party, they told me on the way there. I was just glad they let me smoke in the limo.
“You see, in Nigeria we do things a little differently from you people of the West,” the President said, smiling through a glass of wine. “We have two sides of a conflict, APC and PDP. My party is the PDP. Then we have smaller parties which are basically bargaining chips.”
So, not much different then, I thought. Politics as a rule bored me, and I generally voted for the guy with the nicest necktie. So I nodded at this black man, hoping he would sip more wine and talk a lot less.
“Now,” he continued. “We have on the one hand people trying to discredit me, cast me in a bad light. If I say today now, that the Chibok girls – you saw that on your BBC? – that the Chibok girls are not missing, what happens? They flay me. There is no evidence that they were abducted! But the only evidence we need to prove that no girls were abducted is basically no evidence!”
“Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence,” I responded drowsily.
“So, Marry Dew, what I am saying is: burden of proof should be on these smear campaigners, but no. Everybody, Goodluck, Goodluck.”
The car came mercifully to a stop and we peeled our butts out of the back seat.
I had barely stepped out from my side of the car when I heard an “Ah, Tambuwal!”
“Your Excellency. How is the First Lady?”
“She is well. Did you bring the vintage?”
“Of course, Your Excellency.”
I heard both men share a hearty laugh, but I never heard the end of that laugh. A loud explosion made my ears go pop as I was flung across the roof of the limo. In that ridiculous slow-mo, I saw the president and the Tambuwal guy flung off, caught in a brief, unwitting embrace as they crashed onto the ground.
I felt a splitting pain between my eyes even as they stung. The president’s security detail had been taken out cleanly in that single blast, and I knew it. A barely fit man in a suit ran to me.
“Are you okay?” he asked?
“Yes,” I coughed.
“Where is the president?” he asked, urgency in his voice.
I pointed to my right and he scurried off into the dark, leaving me lying flat on the floor.
“The President is Down! I Repeat, the President is Down! Get me medics NOW!”
I coughed some of my own blood into my mouth.
The President is Down.
“ALLAH HU AKBAR!” came a chorus of voices in the distance, and in the smoke and rubble before me, I saw headlights of a military vehicle swing in a defiant arc and hurtle into the dark.
My God, Mr. President, You cannot die. Don’t let them win.
I thought about Kurt&Stone. Then I thought about Clifford. Cute guy, always worrying about the little stuff.
“It takes one fucking lunatic to fuck shit up.”
Then I passed out.
I was patched up quickly. I was the lucky one. A combination of events such as the side of the limo I was on and the scatter radius of the resulting explosion ensured that I left the scene with nothing more than a hairline fracture to my left wrist and a minor concussion.
I heard they cleared out the whole hospital to treat the president. Touch and go, the doctor said. The President’s life, hanging on a thread.
“Mr. Merridew,” one of the doctors call. “A DSS representative would like to speak to you.”
I hobble along with the sprightly doctor and he leads me to a dimly lit room. It looks exactly like an interrogation room, with its low-hanging bulb, two tables and a chair. A woman is seated on the chair farthest from me.
“Please, sit down, Mr. Merridew,” she says. Her voice isn’t like the President’s. It gives me no assurance of calm.
“I saw everything,” I volunteer. “I think…I know…it was the terrorists, ma’am.”
“Call me Marilyn or Ms Ogar, whichever appellation you are comfortable with,” she drawls. “You came to Nigeria on unofficial business, yes?”
“If word of your visit to Nigeria or what your visit to this country intends to achieve should leak, your company – Kurt&Stone, I believe – will disown you and delete all information about you from its records. That would be quite the interesting tragedy, don’t you think?”
I notice the insane glint in her eyes for the first time.
“It is in your interest, Mr. Merridew, that you tell your story about the event that occurred this night exactly as I am going to dictate.”
Written by Justin Irabor
You can read his blog: iraborjustin.wordpress.com
You can also follow him on twitter: @thevunderkind