Abass woke with a dreadful headache. Last night had been a madhouse. He had noticed for some months that earnings from tax levied on Okada drivers had been dwindling when in fact there had been a steady increase in the number of bikes registered to ply mapped routes. After investigation, it became clear that four of the touts who handled collections were pocketing ridiculous amounts of money. He had reported this to Laguro, the head of the touts. Upon Laguro’s instruction, all four deviants had been picked up and publicly thrashed last night with Koboko – the soldier’s whip – till their backs were sufficiently bloody. They had been given 1 month to repay.
His phone rang. It was Laguro.
‘Abass, how are you?’
‘Good morning Oga mi,’ he said and noticed his voice was still groggy. He cleared his throat before speaking again. ‘How was your night?’
‘Fine fine. The Chairman would like to see you this morning. Informed him your contribution led to us to catch those thieves. He was very happy, indeed. I think he has big plans for you. I’ll text you his address.’
The local government chairman wanting to see him was a huge deal. ‘Thank you Oga mi! You are a good boss!’
‘You are the closest thing I have to a son. I know you will make me proud.’
Saheed Yayi had been the local government chairman in Surulere for seven years now. His house in Bode Thomas revealed the glory of a man who had immensely benefited from the milk and honey that constantly trickled down from top government. The other fringe benefits associated with managing a densely populated city in Lagos Metropolis also contributed to his affluent lifestyle.
A dark-skinned police officer with a bulging belly opened the gate the moment Abass knocked. They knew each other.
‘Star boy! How are you,’ the policeman named Kanke hailed in a northern accent.
‘Officer Kanke. How are you?’
‘Always fine my friend. Chairman takes good care of me.’
‘I can see that,’ Abass said, nodding appreciatively. ‘He has asked for me.’
‘I know. He is waiting.’
‘Thanks,’ Abass said before heading to the main building.
Another security officer opened the main door for him and led him to the living room where the chairman was waiting for him.
‘Abass, my boy!’ Saheed greeted affably and offered a handshake. He was a stout man with broad shoulders and a shining bald head.
‘Good morning Sir,’ Abass greeted, taking his hand.
‘You came in just in time. Come let’s have breakfast.’
‘Thank you Sir.’ Abass’ belly grumbled in delight as he followed Saheed to the dining room.
The tabled was decorated with platters of fruits, yam slices, egg sauce, and grilled chicken thighs. The delightful aroma from the coffee pot outshone the others.
‘Please eat,’ Saheed said, gesturing him to a seat.
‘Thank you, Sir.’
After a minute into the meal, Saheed spoke: ‘Laguro speaks highly of you. I have also been watching you. You have consistently impressed me. You are methodical, charismatic, ambitious, decisive, and most importantly, you are loyal. You have the makings of someone who could do very well for himself, with the right support of course.’
‘Thank you, Sir.’ Abass wondered where he was going with this.
‘You have a university degree, right?’
Saheed nodded his head. ‘I fired my PA last night. He had a loose tongue. We can’t have that. Trust is important in politics. Do you agree?’
‘Absolutely Sir.’ Abass heart was beating. The food before him had lost its appeal. He could taste the change that was on its way.
Saheed kept quiet till the chicken in his mouth was no more. ‘You will be my PA from tomorrow. I expect you will put in nothing short of your best.’
‘I will Sir. Thank you, Sir.’ Abass stood up, grinning. He was only 25 and he was now the PA to a powerful politician. He was surprised at the card Fate had generously dealt him. ‘I won’t disappoint you!’
Iskilu maneuvered the commercial motorcycle between the cars and tricycles popularly known as Keke Napep. The feeling was always invigorating. Traffic had nothing on him. The lady behind him clutched to him like they were lovers. He knew it was more out of fear that anything else, but he didn’t care. Her body was warm against his back and it made him feel powerful.
She paid him N100 after getting off the motorcycle. He was surprised that she did not scowl like some other customers. ‘Thank you, Madam,’ he said.
His friends, Muhammed and Karim, had retired for the day when he rolled his bike into No. 27 Bayero Street Aguda. They were all having a loud conversation and eating white rice and stew in the compound. Greetings were exchanged in Hausa. A tenant emerged from the backyard as Iskilu parked his motorcycle.
‘Good evening Sir,’ he greeted.
‘Evening Iskilu,’ the tenant responded. ‘How work?’
‘Fine Sir,’ Iskilu responded. There was a gentleman’s agreement between the commercial motorcyclists and the tenants of the house. They could sleep and park their motorcycles in the compound in return for doubling as security at night. This arrangement was not uncommon in the area.
‘Have you heard the news?’ Muhammed asked in Hausa as Iskilu sat on a pavement.
‘Heard what?’ Iskilu asked in Hausa too.
‘They are taking the bikes off the street,’ Muhammed said.
‘Forget that one,’ Iskilu said. ‘They have been on this matter for years but have never done it. Relax yourself. This is just one of those times. It will pass
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