by Akinsola Oluwatunmise Akin
The sun blazed down with austerity as various cars drove into the compound of chief Popoola, the party chairman. This was to be the final meeting before the election. In a short while, everyone was settled. Olusola Benson, the governorship candidate of the party, a rich man who made his wealth in oil and gas sat calmly beside the party chairman at the high table. These two, along with few other individuals had held a meeting with the president of the nation and they were here to set out a plan that would make this election a success for their party.
Adeniyi, famously known as ‘OMOLE’ which translates to hard man, sat at the back. He ran the dirty job for the party. A responsibility he failed woefully at in the last election. The defeat they suffered was extremely narrow but the impact was much because much investment was made on it. One of the people who spoke rashly about him was the party chairman and today, they were seeing for the first time in about four years. Apart from the aurora of seeing top party members, meetings like this one were generally a boring experience to him. He knew topics which would be of concern to him would be treated last.
Now, the opportunity presented itself for them to avail themselves of the narrow defeat they suffered four years ago. The meeting went on smoothly with delegates assuring the party chairman of the various rural areas where they could be sure of almost all the votes As the meeting dragged on and on, different logistics were discussed to simulate the election result and at the end of the different permutations, they realized that they would most likely be on par with the other powerful party in the state; the same party that bested them in the last election.
At this point, focus shifted to Adeniyi. Deliberations began with some faction not trusting Adeniyi to come through for the party if it comes to rigging the election and stealing ballot boxes like it did the last time. The debate went on and on until the chairman stood.
“Enough!” the chairman began. Seeing how the direction of discussion centered on him within the twinkle of an eye, Adeniyi’s attention was rapt. The chairman continued with a calm voice “I perceive that some of us don’t really understand why we are here. I haven’t attained this lofty height by being soft. In this party, we are not ambiguous about what is expected, about the level of perfection required. We all took an oath when we joined this party. Perhaps some of us have to be reminded of history and events over and over again.” shaking his head slowly as if to make his words sink into the minds of his subordinates “gentlemen, this has to sink in, it’s all or nothing” he pronounced the last word with a very slight snarl.
The chairman stepped away from the high table, “I am surprised that after many investments, time, money, sweat and blood, we seem a people not focused, in discord. Do we all really need experiences that would keep us encouraged? My hands will be on deck in this state, we have the federal backing and today I have decided we will make it impossible for ourselves to lose. He that has a duty or Sacrifice to make, let him not be found wanting”. With this words, the meeting came to an end.
Just as he was about to step out, Adeniyi was passed a piece of paper with a short note that read ‘YOU’RE NEEDED AT ROOM 1” he gave a brief sigh, he was about to be lashed. Calmly, he approached the door, stopped just behind the door to eavesdrop on anything but he caught nothing. He rubbed his face with both palms, he knocked twice, opened the door and went in. there were three people in the room, the chairman, the governorship aspirant and the head of the board of trustees.
“Sit” it was the clear voice of the chairman. “Adeniyi was passed a cigarette, he took it and put it in his mouth, he was poured some wine as well and the leader of the board of trustees offered to light the cigarette for him as if Adeniyi had a choice. The governorship candidate stared at Adeniyi as if to weigh him. The chairman continued. “This party is my family; I have sacrificed a lot for it. Our success is my success, our failures, my failures. I am not a young man anymore, my happiness and joy is tied to this party and happiness is something I cannot negotiate, it’s vital for my health. Four years ago, I lost that happiness, I couldn’t afford the loss but it happened and I couldn’t change that. This year, I will not allow that. We all know that family is important Adeniyi and from experience, I can tell you it’s a shame for a man to lose his family, it is a stigma if he lost them to circumstances he could have easily controlled”. These words sank into Adeniyi’s heart, he actually felt his heart beat but he said not a word. He was dismissed, he got up and turned to leave and just when he got to the door, the governor asked “how is your wife and son my Adeniyi?”, “They are good Sir” he answered.
As much as he was a power house himself, the chairman’s words made shivers run down Adeniyi’s spine. Adeniyi knew the story of how the man whose post he now occupies met his waterloo. The man had raised his voice at the party chairman and with a straight face had been calmly told he would not wake up the following day. He did not. This singular act inscribed the fear of the chairman into every member of the party.
Telma local govenment, a place renowned for being a buzzing location every Thursday was buzzing as expected today. The corps members popularly known as corpers or otondos with the ladies in their famous tightly fitted trousers flooded the council. On another day, these ladies would have caught the attention of Adeniyi, but today was different, he was out on a mission, his family was at stake. Since the government made no secret of their intention to deploy corps members to work hand in hand with INEC to conduct the election, Adeniyi knew he had to get to the actual one that would be in charge of one of the major zones his party was sure to lose. If he succeeds in his endeavor to effectively turn the result around, he was sure it would be a massive blow to their opponents. He had taken time to discover the notice board on which corps members will learn the various zones they have been posted to coordinate the ballot system of voting and in a short while, he got the young man that would be one of those in charge. His name was Frank.
Frank’s friend had called for him to come immediately so he could see for himself the exact zone where he was posted. Frank along with some others had been called into an office to be briefed, the election gubernatorial elections was in three days and as always, deployment was done late. Frank was to handle Ojelambi and its environs, which in total boasts of over hundred thousand people. This settlement was very important in deciding elections. It was considered as the ultimate prize.
After checking to see where he is required to serve, Frank headed back home, he flagged down the Lexus jeep coming towards him and he was given a lift. The man engaged him in series of discussions, he asked about his family and they exchanged contacts.
Later that night, Frank got a text, “DON’T BE A HERO ON D-DAY”. He was not bothered, ‘this text could not be meant for him’ he thought.
A day before the election, Franks family was kidnapped, he got a call from the neighbors at home, his presence was required at home but he had a commitment already, he already spoke to the captors who told him they will come up with the price he will need to pay for their redemption.
Later the same day, Frank got an untraceable text and it read “DON’T BE A HERO ON D-DAY AND YOUR FAMILY WILL BE SAFE”. The text further explained that he had to be among the team that would conduct the election discourage his colleagues from being heroes. If everything goes smoothly, he was assured of his family’s safety.