It’s 2.30am, but she lies wide awake in bed. Her disturbed mind, with the measured precision of an expert blacksmith, tongs each issue troubling her mind on the anvil and sets the hammer to work, forging shapes into metals, burnishing hope into a grave polity. I-Sha needs to quickly find an elixir to the two ailments plaguing her husband – deafness to reason and numbness to reality.
The thoughts came pouring down her soul like snowflakes in winter – white, feathery and beautiful yet icy, bone-freezing and deadly. She gently turns on her side, pulls the succulent duvet under her chin and lolls up on the kingsize bed, glancing at her husband sitting on the chair by the lamp.
She looks at the lion she married several years ago and sadness fills her heart. In place of the lion, a cat she sees. Though still slim and suave, the bouncy confidence has departed the gait of the man she adored. Boo, as she fondly calls him, was efficient when he donned the green khaki – only needing to open his mouth, and a horde of subordinates would fall over themselves in submissive obedience to his command.
But this democracy babariga is too large and too complicated for Boo to wear. With his gangly frame, he always seems lost in the billows of the parachute the agbada of democracy has turned into. In democracy, Boo seems like a whale stranded on seashore. In the military, the zombie structure masks his inadequacies.
I-Sha: (She clears her throat) What’s going on, Your Excellency?
Boo: Menene, I-Sha?
I-Sha: What’s going on in your government? Don’t feign ignorance, you know what I’m talking about, Your Excellency.
Boo: It’s midnight; you need to be in bed, sleeping.
I-Sha: I’m in bed. I’ll sleep when you put my mind at rest.
Boo: Picks his teeth.
I-Sha: You see, that’s what I’m saying; it’s about 3am and you’re picking your teeth. You ate at 8pm, you’re picking your teeth at 3am! Whenever there’s an urgent issue, you pick your teeth.
Boo: I-Sha, picking my teeth is a strategy.
Boo: Yes, and an art of war.
I-Sha: Art of war?
Boo: Haka ne! It masks the mind’s construction from the face.
I-Sha: Mind’s construction?
I-Sha: So, you know the strategy and art of war, and Boko Haram has been feeding the flesh of your soldiers to the birds? You know how to mask the mind’s construction from the face, yet you can’t do anything without your rough-riding relative, Haba Kia, and the manipulative Mammon Dowrat, who have completely seized power from you.
Boo: What do you mean?
I-Sha: Who gives commands to your service chiefs? Who gives directives to ministers and heads of government agencies? Nigerians know who they voted for, but they’re amazed how another C-i-C emerged in Kia. They also know that Mammon is the voice on the throne. The masses are utterly disappointed in you, muji na. You deceitfully kept the promise of change to their ears and shattered it to their hope.
Boo: (His phone rings, he picks it) That’s Mammon calling. He’s in my private room.
I-Sha: Mammon calling?
Boo: I need to go and answer him or should I tell him to come into the bedroom?
I-Sha: (Exasperated, speaks in Hausa) Is it Mammon who should answer to you or you answer to Mammon?
Boo: This is a democracy; everyone is equal.
He gets up and leaves the bedroom. Tears roll down I-Sha’s eyes.
Both Dowrat and Kia greet as Boo steps into the private room.
Boo: Why is everybody shouting your name all over the place, Kia?
Kia: (Chuckling) I don’t know, Your Excellency. I must be doing something great.
Boo: Even I-Sha won’t sleep; she’s worried. They say you and Mammon have taken over governance. Do these people know anything about devolution of power?
Dowrat: Anyone can say whatever they like. An urgent matter of state brought us here, Your Excellency. It’s the coronavirus.
Boo: Oh yes, I heard that the coronavirus is now in Lagos. What’re you doing about it?
Dowrat: That’s why we’re here.
Boo: Good. What’re you doing?
Dowrat: We need to embark on vaccination of cows against the dreaded disease before it leaves Lagos for the North. We need about N20bn for the exercise.
Boo: Coronavirus is a very deadly disease, Mammon! Will N20bn be enough?
Kia: We’ll manage it and take N300m from the N386m earmarked for the treatment and prevention of the disease from being transmitted among humans.
Boo: That’s ok; humans can talk, cows can’t.
Kia: When I leave here, I’m going to look for a professor of virology and appoint him as the head of government’s intervention on coronavirus initiative for cows.
Boo: Will you appoint another professor of virology to oversee the remaining N86m earmarked for human vaccination, treatment and prevention?
Kia: The disease was discovered in Lagos, not Kaduna, Your Excellency. A primary healthcare officer will be ok for humans.
Boo: You this boy, you’re very wise. I don’t know why everybody is shouting coronavirus! coronavirus! Kenya has suspended all flights from China, South Africa has evacuated her nationals from China.
Kia: People from the North don’t travel abroad, so we don’t need to evacuate anybody.
Boo: Even Ateekoo that I defeated is advising that I suspend flights from countries affected by coronavirus. What does that one know about governance?
Dowrat: I wonder o, Your Excellency. His former boss from the rock city has gone mute after your re-election
Boo: You’ll soon begin to hear his voice when the new policy comes on stream.
Kia: Which of the lofty policies? Is it the one seeking southern land for herdsmen? Or the one seeking to criminalise resistance to herdsmen killings?
Boo: No, it’s the bill seeking to crown Boko Haram leader, Shekau, the Shehu of Terrorism; grant amnesty to repentant Boko Haram members and allow them enjoy foreign education.
Kia: Haa! Those bills? They will just shout and keep quiet. When they refused to allow rugga and Boko Haram was killing them, they shouted and shouted and stopped. This one also, they’ll shout and keep quiet.
Boo: I like it that the bill emanated from the senate. If it was from Azo Roc, they would’ve, by now, been burning tyres on the streets.
Kia: Don’t mind them, Your Excellency.
Boo: Have you spoken to Shekau?
Kia: Yes. He’s very happy. Particularly, he loves the policy that seeks to enlist his members into the army. He even expressed his desire to head the joint Army with its headquarters in Sambisa.
Dowrat: Lofty as these policies are, we need to be wary of the western world; you know they like poking their noses into people’s affairs. They’ll make an issue out of the babies Boko Haram mistakenly threw into bonfires. They’ll listen to the false allegation that Boko Haram is a terrorist group that kills and rapes.
Boo: People don’t know that everything that has an advantage, has a disadvantage. Did Odion Ighalo not profit from the coronavirus outbreak in China? This is why I’m not going to worry myself banning flights, setting up quarantine centres or providing any support. What will be, wll be.
Dowrat: We should even thank God the disease was discovered in Lagos, like the Ebola case. The coronavirus would’ve been uncontrollable if it broke out in the North.
Boo: I’ve said it; everything that has an advantage, has a disadvantage. They said I should sack service chiefs, I refused. If I had sacked them, would we be having this wonderful partnership with Boko Haram today?
I-Sha, who overheard all their conversation, looks through the door and shouts, “Takulahi!” meaning “Fear God!”
One of the men countered, “Allah ya halince ka!” meaning, “May God punish you!”, and he goes after I-Sha.