Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 3
As if in confirmation of his dream, his first visitor at the office that morning had been none else but the chairman of Congress for Advancement, the main opposition party in the state, Sir Babagana Maigida. The man had come for business, but their discussions had soon delved into the political realm and soon the big question was thrown at him.
‘I didn’t hear you well, sir,’ he had said, taking off his cap as if it impeded his hearing ability.
‘I said we need people like you in the frontline, aspiring for political positions.’
‘That’s serious, sir, really serious.’
‘Why is it so serious?’
‘I’ve never really been involved in politics all my life.’
The chairman had laughed out, long and loud.
‘You are mistaken… greatly so, Chief,’ he finally said when the laughter had subsided. ‘From birth, every man is involved in politics. Those times your wants are different from your brother’s and you try to ensure your parents look your way before theirs, you are already practicing politics. Those times you have an argument with someone and go all the way to ensure your opinion is accepted, even when you might have realized along the way that it’s inferior, you are practicing politics. You see, we are all involved in politics.’
‘That’s true,’ Chief Mike had said, nodding slowly. It was same thing when he did all within his means to secure a contract. It didn’t matter the tactics employed, all that usually mattered was the end result. ‘That’s true,’ he said again.
‘I’m happy you’ve realized that. We are all businessmen, but politics will only make our businesses better if we play our cards well.’
‘But don’t you think it’s too late? Elections are barely ten months away.’
‘It’s never too late. With your clout and our strategic plans, we should be winning the next elections in the state.’
‘Hmmm,’ Chief Mike could feel his head spinning. Was this his chance?
The ruling party, Democratic Alliance, had been very popular during the last elections; but that had changed over time. The opposition parties had been so quick to make public their errors and so steadfast at this task that many ordinary people had gradually come to develop a new perception of the government. There was also the fact that the incumbent, who was in his second term, was ineligible for reelection, thereby removing the advantage of incumbency. And the Congress for Advancement had been the biggest beneficiary from the widespread discontent with the government of the state. These thoughts ran through Chief Mike’s mind in split seconds.
‘Yea,’ continued Sir Maigida, ‘the signs are becoming more obvious everyday that the C.A will claim power. All that remains are for persons like you to be involved.’
‘But how can we be involved?’ He wanted to get the man cornered; he wanted him to make special commitments in his favour. Chief Mike had smiled, he was already playing politics.
‘You could seek for elective positions; you could even be the next governor.’
‘Are you sure of that? Are you saying you would support me if I wanted to emerge as the party’s gubernatorial candidate?’
‘Why won’t I, Chief? I would be silly to do otherwise.’
The excitement was so great that he had to do all he could to prevent himself from collapsing in a swoon. The chairman left soon afterwards. He had promised to seriously think about the man’s suggestion, and that he was doing.
The C.A had all he needed to make it. Their last rally had been so well attended that the overflow filled up the State Stadium surroundings. They had anticipated such crowd, as mobile speakers were strategically mounted outside the stadium. It was a vast improvement on their position in the last elections, as they could hardly get the stadium half filled in their campaign rallies then. The state owned television station hadn’t made any mention of the rally, but the newspapers were awash with its images the next day. Sir Maigida had assured the people of better conditions once the Congress for Advancement got into power. He had listed the many areas in which Governor Igbobia had failed – the soaring unemployment rate, the high taxation rates, the poor state of infrastructure, the witch-hunting of labour unions, amongst others. The Patriotic Voice Newspaper read:
The wind is blowing and, very soon, it will blow away all vestiges of self-centred governance. The Congress for Advancement has shown that, with the support of the people, money centred politics will soon be a thing of the past. The State Chairman of the party, Sir Babagana Maigida, has echoed the sentiments of the common man on the deliberate failure, for personal gain, by the Paul Igbobia administration to address major issues bedeviling the people of the state, which in better climes are usually taken for granted…
He stood to lose little, whatever happened, but could gain quite a lot. From his discussion with Sir Maigida, the C.A wasn’t money-centric, and even if that was the case, he was sure he would be up to the task. He would inform his wife in the morning, and then place a call to Sir Maigida once he arrived at the office. Satisfied with his decision, he slid down on the bed and pulled on the blanket.
Politics was an all-consuming venture, and this Chief Mike soon found out. To get himself acquainted with the national party hierarchy and get well established in the Congress for Advancement, he had to embark on many trips to attend national meetings. He started working late into the nights as he had required his manager to always forward important files to his house. He would sometimes return from a political meeting and, after a short nap, delve into business matters. He would be on that till his wife slept and would sometimes remain so until Florence would awake in the middle of the night and go pull him into bed. He wondered how older persons like Sir Maigida could manage to so effectively combine politics with business, but gradually got used to it himself. The months sped by and soon it was time for the party primaries.
Florence had been sceptical when he first informed her that he had been promised the governorship slot by the party chairman.
‘I don’t think that will be the case,’ she had told him.
‘But Sir Maigida assured me of it in our first discussion?’
‘Not according to what you told me. He only assured you of his support.’
‘Yea, his support. Sir Maigida wields a lot of influence in the C.A, especially in this state. Whoever he supports already has it.’
Florence had smiled. ‘My dear, this is politics; Sir Maigida must have wooed many other persons with same promise. Are you the only big shot to have joined the party in the past one year?’
He knew she was making sense. He had discovered, after joining, that the C.A had lots of other business executives in their membership. Many of them only operated in the background, appearing neutral in the open world. They would attend dinner parties with the governor one day and the other day be in attendance at the C.A’s inner caucus meetings. He had discovered that he wasn’t going to be as important as he initially felt he would before joining. He had thought he would be the big fish in an opposition party struggling to find its feet, but was surprised to find many others there.
‘I know there are others, but Sir Maigida did assure me of his total support.’
‘If you are very sure, there’s no problem. I’m only speaking from my little experience in politics.’
He had laughed at her; she had no worthwhile experience to speak of. Did she think the little politics in her group, The Ladies of Hope, equated with real politics?
Chief Mike was surprised at the price of the governorship form. He hadn’t expected it to be so expensive – certainly not that of an opposition party. He purchased it anyway. Three others did too – a Professor and two business executives. He wasn’t pleased by this. The professor, Dele Imonikhe, was easily the most popular amongst them. The man had been in the party for many years and was familiar with all their workings. In fact, he was said to have rejected the chairmanship position because of his political ambition.
‘You can be the party’s consensus candidate,’ said his friend, Chief Obi, when he informed him of his dilemma.
‘Are you sure of that? The other candidates appear very serious about their ambitions.’
‘Yes, but only one of you will eventually emerge. It would be better for them to step down and avoid spending more than to spend more, yet lose out in the primaries.’
‘It is not as easy as you put it; some of them – the professor especially – are seasoned politicians.’
‘This is politics, everyone has a price.’
He had contacted Sir Maigida about this. The elderly man listened to all he had to say, his face expressionless, before responding.
‘In the C.A, we don’t impose candidates. The reason is that many joined us because they felt robbed of their aspirations elsewhere. I will advise you to prepare for the primaries, I can assure you of my support.’
The man was lying! Chief Mike thought. Wasn’t it this same support he had assured him in the first place? He felt deceived, but it was too late to back out.
‘I told you at the onset that I wasn’t a politician, now how do you expect me to scale through the primaries – especially with the likes of Professor Dele Imonikhe contesting?’
‘I will help you,’ said Sir Maigida, ‘but it will cost you something.’ He still maintained an impassive expression.