Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Governor Aladoko of Okitiland I want to apologise for this surprise visit. His Excellency thought that a visit to Lagos would not be complete without saying ‘hello’ to his ‘friends’ at the NewsTeller more especially in view of some events that nearly torpedoed the boat of His Excellency’s administration shortly after coming to power. It is my privilege and honour, therefore, to present ‘live’ my governor and benefactor to the People’s Assembly. Your Excellency, sir.
Thank you, Atokun. Gentlemen of the Press, I salute you and I want to thank you for welcoming me despite the gatecrashing. In fact, what I met on the ground is not what I have been made to understand. If I must be honest with you, I was expecting to see men and women with fire burning in their eyes and smoke oozing from their foreheads but surprisingly you are all as cool as ladugbo water. I’m really impressed by your seemingly accommodating poise. Before I go into my choreography, I want to seize this opportunity also to thank those who stood by me during the ‘arrangee’ assassination attempt on my person while in Lagos the other day. My enemies did not want me to eat pounded yam again but my God said no to them. Now, to my speech proper…
Excuse me, Mr. Governor, your man has just told us that this is an impromptu visit, so how come you want to read a prepared speech?
Don’t mind him. The way of we politicians is quite different from the way of you ordinary people. For instance, when a politician says “what a sunny day!” make sure you contact the CNN meteorologist before you respond. To be honest with you, we operate like 419 people – we deceive, distract and ambush the people to achieve our aims. Indeed, if this is just a surprise private visit, you won’t see this battery of television cameras trained on your management and staff. Surely, it’s all for a purpose. So, Mr. Chairman, editors, managers, reporters, all other protocols observed, it gives me great displeasure and rheumatic pain to stand before you today smiling when, indeed, I should be crying in view of the evils done me by the Alliance for Destruction and the unwary Fourth Estate of the Realm over my gubernatorial success in the last elections. Naturally, I should have declared a state of emergency in the entire Okitiland because of the perfidy of the Alliance and the naivety of the pen pushers but I have resolved to give you people a chance to swim or sink with your sponsors. Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I have not come to praise the Caesar of Acme Road but to lambast him. Please, don’t regard my approach as that of a foolhardy Daniel who dared the lion in its den; rather, take it as that of a young freedom fighter who has come with an olive branch in one hand and a loaded pistol in the other. The choice is yours. If you pick the former, we shall all live to enjoy the dividends of democracy. And if, in your collective wisdom, you opt for the latter, then you will have yourselves to blame for the consequence. The problem with you Niagarans is jealousy. I don’t claim to have a Pull Him Down, Ph.D degree like you. Neither do I have a Toronto certificate. I never even claimed to be an alumnus of the University of Chicago. I am an HND holder and, by God’s grace, the Big Boss of all professors and Ph.D holders in Okitiland. It’s not a matter of arrogance but just the reality of the situation. I make bold to claim that I have been to the top of Mt. Olivet and descended to the grassland of Ilaro where I entered the Poly to do research into the chemical contents of cassava and the dangers posed by cyanide to “sailors” (a.k.a garri drinkers) and other consumers of cassava-based foods. From there, I transferred myself to the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Oluyole Poly where I switched from paki (cassava) research to automobile engineering. My area of specialisation is how raw physical energy can propel a danfo bus into a racing landcraft for ferrying people from obscurity to stardom in government houses. I remember the day my head of department singled me out for praise for my seminar paper on “The Psychotic tantrums and socio-environmental idiosyncrasies of the alupandugbe drivers – a case study of danfo drivers in Oluyole and Oluyole-Less-City.” To have an insight into the inner workings of the minds of the drivers, I had to infiltrate their ranks by also doing shuttle service between Ijokodo and Sango. Unfortunately, this is what my political enemies misconstrued to mean that I, too, was a danfo driver. But come to think of it, if, indeed, I was, there is nothing to be ashamed of. In the United Kingdoms of America, Britain and London and, even, in the United States of Paris and France many Nigerians with masters and original Ph.Ds are… sorry, I don’t know how to put this in English —won nfa gburuu …
You mean they do odd jobs to survive?
Yes, you get it. Over there, there’s oddity in labour.
No. Your Excellency, you mean there’s dignity in labour.
Oh, that’s just a slip of the tongue.
I guess it was also a slip of the tongue when you glibly accused NewsTeller of demanding gratification from you. Is that not cheap blackmail?
No, that one was a slip of the mind. Actually, someone picked the intelligence in a danfo bus while travelling between Ilara Mokin and Owena in Ondo State. My friend in Afao-Ekiti told me the intelligence was coded but the security officers decoded it wrongly. So, my good friends, I never intended to cross swords with you and I know you, too, are a peace-loving people who will opt for the olive branch. We are partners in progress and I want to assure you that I’m a man of honour. Mr. Devil, himself, can attest to this. Before the last elections, I used to see him in my dreams as he lit a candle and carried it about in broad daylight, moving from one street to the other as if looking for something. One day, people moved close and asked him why he was in the habit of doing that. He said he was searching for men and women of honour in Niagara. To my greatest surprise, he just pointed in my direction. Ladies and gentlemen, here I am today. I may not have genuine credentials as you claim but, at least, I have the devil’s testimonial. And ever since then, I, too, have become a chartered evil genius. Yes.
*This Opilogue was first published in TELL 27th October, 2003