Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 8
…describing him as a true philanthropist. He also visited a Primary School where he donated ten computer sets and customized pens to the teaching staff. This was glowingly covered by two newspapers, with the story appearing in the next day’s issue of one of them, The Patriotic Voice:
The Governorship candidate of the Congress for Advancement, Chief Mike, can’t just stop putting smiles on the people’s faces. His passion for philanthropy, which has always been a part of him, yesterday led him to Ladipo Primary School, Market District. There, he donated many computer sets and pens in his bid to enhance technical education in the state.
Presenting the items to the Headmaster of the school, Chief Mike berated the dearth of technical education in the state; a problem he believed had to be addressed from the cradle. He explained that this was why he had chosen a Primary School first in a move he intended to carry on to many other schools in the state…
Florence smiled as she read this; she was of two minds concerning the new found disposition of her husband. Was it that he was playing to the gallery or had he truly suddenly developed a passion for the welfare of the downtrodden? She knew asking him would be useless, he would view the question as one of her many taunts and, thereby, dismiss it.
It was still fresh in her memory, how he had intended to sack his gardener, for being absent from work on account of his sick wife. She was sure Jide would had been long gone had it not been for her husband’s new preoccupation, politics. She was surprised when he approved a pay rise for Alamu just a week back. Normally, even the gatekeeper would have already been on his way out if not already out. Chief Mike’s many complaints about his inefficiency had suddenly died down in recent weeks; such complaints usually preceded dismissals in the past.
An attack on one of the party’s buses as they returned from a campaign rally changed Chief Mike’s views on his security. He had previously rejected calls by Ezekiel never to move around without his security team, but couldn’t any longer. Not after Ezekiel told him that he was probably the target of the attack.
‘Can you imagine such a vicious move by those enemies of progress? One man was killed and several others are lying seriously injured in the hospital. I am very sure that you were the target, sir!’
Chief Mike held his forehead, in deep thought. The attack had occurred a few minutes after his jeep went past. Some cars belonging to party chieftains had been first to move, followed by his and then the two coaster buses belonging to the party. The first, carrying some ladies, had successful gone past the spot of the attack, but not the second, carrying only male supporters. And he had travelled in that same bus for rallies on two occasions. It usually provided the party hierarchy opportunity to make last minute deliberations on the order of a rally. Ezekiel was right; the hoodlums must have thought this was one of such occasions.
‘Well, they failed,’ he managed to say.
‘Yes, they failed, but we mustn’t provide them another opportunity to do so. You see the way new direction has been trending? It galls even their most peaceful supporters.’
Chief Mike smiled, acknowledging this. When the party adopted the slogan, they never envisaged the impact it was turning to have. Most persons cared not about the party manifesto; they were only concerned about the party slogan. It was a case of “I support a new direction” for many. Sentences like “say no to those enemies of a new direction” and “we can’t remain the way we are, we must move in a new direction” soon became commonplace. Even the entrepreneurs weren’t left out; some of them were making brisk business, creating pens, hand fans and t-shirts, bearing the slogan “A NEW DIRECTION”. The newspapers were very actively involved too, creating articles that sought to demonize whoever desired stagnancy and retrogression by failing to support the new direction. As the Quarterly Herald Newspaper put it:
After years of moving around the spot, years of having selfish individuals vested with the responsibility of governance, it is refreshing to have a political party with the courage to chart a new course. What is, however, not surprising is the fact that many persons who have fed fat from the old way of doing things are desperately moving against this people-inspired course, but as the saying goes, “the truth may be delayed, but it will eventually come to be”, we are sure that old parochial interests will eventually give way for a NEW DIRECTION.
Those enemies of progress should take note; their money cannot buy the consciences of the good people of the state who earnestly desire a change in the way things have been all this while; a few misguided elements may fall for their filthy lucre, but these persons selling their souls to the devil cannot stop the wind blowing – the wind of DIRECTION…
…If the attack was staged by those envious of the Congress for Advancement, it meant many more were in the offing.
‘This is why we mustn’t play into their hands,’ Ezekiel continued, ‘the boys must justify their pay.’
Ezekiel was right. His refusal to fully utilize the security team had been because he wanted his movements as quiet as possible. While that was becoming increasingly difficult especially after his stunt at Mama Ijeoma’s, going around with a convoy of vicious faced guys was only going to worsen things. But there was also the fact that he would have to be driven in uniformed convoys when he took seat as the governor.
‘It’s okay. Get them briefed and get back to me,’ he finally said.
Ezekiel had been waiting for such an order. He smiled, arose and left the office. Chief Mike couldn’t help noticing the eagerness with which he went about this task. Three days later, four of the boys moved into one of the apartments in his servants’ quarters.
While they never openly admitted to it, the rising popularity of the C.A was causing great heartache in the D.A. Even the outgoing Governor Igbobia wasn’t left out of this frenzy. He felt it would be a slap on his face if the opposition eventually defeated his anointed candidate. His initial permutation that the storm raised by the opposition would soon die down, every passing day, appeared more and more incorrect. He wondered why the people would be so taken by a mere party slogan. Personally, he didn’t see much in the C.A to hint at an obsession to move the state in a new direction. Going in a new direction was even only a part of the matter, how sure were the people that that new direction would be the right one? He had always thought himself the best governor the state ever had, but the reactions by the people to the C.A campaigns was belieing that. He had severally been labelled in their rallies as the worse thing to have ever happened to the state, with the C.A asserting that the only way to correct the malaise visited on the state by him was to flush out every D.A element seeking elective offices. And their actions were affecting his own party’s campaigns too. In a bid to clear the air on some of their accusations as published in the papers, he had-in his party’s rally before the last used his entire speech to list some of the issues raised and spell out the actual position of the government on them. He had actually picked on those ones he thought his administration had been very effective in addressing, and had been greatly encouraged by the reaction of the crowd of party supporters; so much that it came as a big blow next day when one of the papers described his speech at that rally as “thoughtless reactionism and oratory without substance”. Continuing, it read:
…Only a government that has lost its way would, instead of listing its achievements and convincing the electorate on why it should be returned to power, resort to such spineless oratory. Towards what aim did Governor Paul Igbobia set out with his self-adulating speech, thinking he could sway the people with outright lies? Was it that he gave no thought to the fact that the time wasted by the people, listening to his focus-less rants, could have been put to more productive use? Was it that he felt he could buy their time with stolen dollar bills and feed them with his lies?
Isn’t it a sign of a party lacking focus to have its chief executive spending his entire time reacting to statements made by the opposition? Such a clueless bunch must be voted out before they wreck the ship of state that they have already plunged into the waters of destructive mediocrity…
He had immediately directed the Commissioner of Information to make a list of all the projects his administration had executed in its eight years. His intention was to, in the next rally, compare his achievements in office with those of his predecessor and allow the people judge who had performed better. This also turned out counterproductive, for most of the papers carried a quote by Professor Imonikhe next day that “you can easily tell an administration that has achieved nothing by its efforts to advertise to the people what isn’t in existence.” Like everything now associated with the C.A, this quote soon went viral. He was surprised, almost angry that the people could so easily dismiss his numerous achievements; he knew he hadn’t been perfect, but to declare his administration the worse ever experienced by the state was – in his opinion – taking politics too far. He had gotten the news of an attack on the C.A’s campaign bus the previous week and had gotten his private investigative team on it. Their findings had revealed the man behind the attacks, Adamu Gbosere, one of the D.A’s candidates for the House of Representatives. He hadn’t bothered to rein him in, after all the police were still investigating. They so inefficient, the police; he doubted if their investigations would ever get to the root of the matter. Something his private team had unearthed in four days. And it was something his party couldn’t allow to get out even if the police did discover their culpability; some money bundles would be sufficient to keep their mouths shut forever. He had never been an advocate for violence, but the brazen slanderous moves by the C.A were getting him angry and, of course, dangerous.