Today’s post is by the very efficient Dimeji @iStalkWriters, give it a read, leave a comment and share with everyone. Have a lovely day. Cheers!
We’ll be starting a book club very soon. Details should be up on the blog on Monday.
There were screens on every flat surface in the room. They dotted the walls, the table, even the peephole on the door had been replaced with a state of the art infrared camera that could read heat signatures. It was connected to a screen on the side of the door where the occupant would ordinarily peer through to catch a glimpse of his guest.
There were no guests here. Everyone who came into this room had a reason for being here. A reason and clearance. You had to have a reason for being in a titanium bomb proof room buried 20 feet beneath the famous Zuma Rock accessible only by a special tube service which connected the room to Aso Rock, the National Assembly and the SSS headquarters. On a regular day the room would be completely empty save for the skeletal staff that operated in shifts to keep the machinery in top condition for a day such as this.
The room was full with nondescript men, clearance tags pinned to their chests all in a mad rush but going nowhere. They were moving helter-skelter like flies trapped in a bottle, each afraid for their lives, their nation and of the only woman in the room.
Miss Onyebuchibe Ogoegbulem was seated on a dais at the rear of the room where she could watch everyone but she could barely notice the flurry of activity. “Ogo” was what her mother called her, Margaret or Madam for everybody else. Her reputation had earned her the name of the former British PM. Her eyes were glued to the screens around the room. It was election day, 2015, the day touted as the day to replace June 12, 1993 in the annals of Nigeria history. Today would definitely make the history books but not for free and fair elections.
The first report had come in about an hour ago: the Lagos State Government House had been attacked. The SSS had been slow to respond. Then there were reports of explosions in Ibadan, Enugu, Port Harcourt.
Margaret was strolling in the compound of her top secret government-allocated villa when the explosions occurred. Eye witness reports claimed that Eagle’s Square erupted from the centre – like it was a volcano. The tremors shook the foundations of her villa. Her driver and bodyguard, Musa had dived out of harm’s way, completely forgetting his mandate to protect her. Margaret was still.
She had the benefit of foreknowledge so she knew exactly what was going on. That knowledge did not make the reports any more incredulous. When the reports of the kidnappings started to come in she could feel the men around the room simultaneously become apprehensive. With each new dial-in reporting another kidnapped Governor, they would all move a little faster, work a little harder, to locate the remaining and identify the perpetrators. They were completely unprepared.
When Michael Famutimi, a 71 year old veteran who still came to work because he said stopping would kill him, stood up and announced in dignified solemnity “The Eagle has been taken. I repeat. The Eagle has been taken” the room fell into deafening silence. Everyone was holding their breath. Margaret was the first to let hers go with a sigh. Then chaos followed: trained men and women in utter panic, as though letting go of the breath they held at bay had unleashed terror into the room. Perhaps it had, but not for Margaret, her sigh was one of relief.
They had done it. She had actually doubted that they could. But they had. Reports were still filtering in. RotimiAmaechi had just been taken, in a Peougot 206 of all things. The perpetrators had rammed into the convoy hurrying to return him to the safety of the government house from his polling station. The Lexus SUVs the Governor insisted on using were no match for the brutal force of the Ford F150 King Ranch the perpetrators had used.
She was proud of them, proud of herself. Because today was the birth of a New Nigeria. She had obeyed Nigeria’s call. The past few years she had become more and more disgusted with the politics of the Nigerian democracy. She could hear Nigeria calling to her, begging her to rid it of the vermin at the reigns of Africa’s giant. She obeyed.
For months she tried to do it on her own – assassination attempts via poison and the likes, but they always seemed to survive. She had once taken a shot at an Emir who was secretly funding the Islamist terror group Boko Haram, pulled the trigger herself from the rear seat of a Mercedes Benz G500. The monarch had been in critical condition but after two weeks in a Saudi Arabian hospital under heavy guard he had begun to recuperate.
It was frustrating for Margaret, having to try and fail, while the nation was in a steady decline. Then she hit gold in the most unexpected place. The groups she had spent her career hunting. She recognised something of herself in them, a passion for Nigeria, they were obeying the call just as she was. So she had gotten in touch with four of them, the most powerful; MEND, MASSOB, OPC and the terror of the moment, BOKO HARAM.
The night of the meeting where all their leaders had been convinced that a major arms deal would take place. They had been about to tear each other apart in the conference room when she walked in. They fell silent partly because they all knew her and her reputation partly in fear that they had come to the end of their respective lives. Then she began to speak and she laid out the plan and they agreed. She knew they would. Even the date had excited them, the day scheduled for the continuation of the old would be the birth of the new. New Nigeria.Shekau had whispered the phrase at the end of the meeting and they had all repeated it. They were kindred spirits, combined in their love for a nation in ruin and all they wanted was a new Nigeria.
So when the screens flickered and the images switched to a stage with the Nigerian flag as a backdrop everybody was surprised but Margaret. By the time anyone found out that the transmission was possible because of her override codes Nigeria would be safe. The whispers of confusion died out as the four most wanted men in the nation casually walked onto the stage together. To the people at home, some of these men were unknown, enigmas but to the people in this room, they were more familiar than family.
There was movement in the corner of the screen then one after the other, the kidnapped governors were ushered onstage at gunpoint. As the leaders claimed responsibility for the carnage, as they coldly executed each erstwhile sovereign she felt a swelling pride, a sense of accomplishment.
Shekau stepped forward. “Today is the birth of a new people. For the past 55 years we have lived in an arranged union. A union a product of as much thought as it takes to draw an image on a map. Named by a harlot. Today that is no more. We stand before you acknowledging and respecting our differences. The reason we have been struggling to create one Nigeria for half a century is because it is not meant to be. Today, Nigeria is no more.”
Margaret was in shock for the first time that evening. She left the room without picking even a pin. There had to be some mistake, a joke. This was not the plan. She got into her car, the black Lexus LS350 F roared to life as though sensing her urgency, it screamed its way onto the express as she headed straight for her villa. She needed to think, to strategize. Her confusion was responsible in part for her failure to notice the two F150s that were bearing down on her till it was almost too late.
The men in those trucks had been handpicked from all four sects, they were the best. The driver, Nnamdi, an MIT trained bomb specialist and car enthusiast chuckled and wondered to himself what kind of woman would drive a sports salon with matte black paint, blacked out lights and black rims, it was like a yahoo boy’s wet dream. When Margaret finally noticed the trucks, she smiled in her rear-view, flicked a switch on her dashboard and put her foot to the floor, hard. When all the lights in and on the Lexus went out and it suddenly rocketed out of reach of his headlamps, instantly blending with the night, Nnamdi’s question was answered.