by Abdul Mahmud
Eno was at her dainty best when we met over breakfast at the restaurant of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel late September 2010. A beauty to behold, her charming posture was at once sensuous and sexual, pure class. She spied the vast restaurant in a finicky way, dropped her jaws as she scooped spoonful of cereals as we settled for breakfast. With her, scooping and swallowing of cereals evinced the motion that attends sex. Poetry in motion, it must be said.
My breakfast lasted longer than I had originally planned. Eno and I got talking about the cost of living and the beauty of dropping into upscale places, pass off oneself as a nouveau riche. Good Lord, the waiters at the Hilton have a way of making ‘nouveau cheap’ who mask their identities with fake mascara look real.
Eno appeared the real deal; the kind a guy punches the air as he screams, ‘yes’. After many interruptions by friends, toing and froing the gourmets’ table, we resumed our talk, occasionally veering off the real and the unreal, timeous and the spatial. Then, she posed the question: “You sound British; but you bear Muslim names. Are you a northern Nigerian? Hausa/Fulani?’’, she asked, slowly caressing an empty glass. I stole a quick glance at her and the gentle way she caressed the glass. And I glimpsed the sensuous movements of her hand with the corner of my eye, hoping she won’t catch me out. Smart girl, I knew she did each time she smiled at me so invitingly.
And with my mind on a wild journey of its own, my eyes completely fixed on the empty glass, her hand, I answered: ‘’yes, I am a Nigerian from Edo state’’.
‘’Wow’’, she screamed. Guests at the adjoining breakfast tables turned in our direction. Raising my hands slightly, I gestured the way a class prefect gestures to a noisy class. She lowered her voice.
‘’I love Edo guys; they are real fun’’, she continued, paying scant attention to my gestures. Breaking into a mixture of pidgin and English language, she quipped enthusiastically, ‘’Comrade Governor dey cool, unlike that Professor who refused to throw one night party at the Government House. The guy fall our hands nor be small.’’ I flirted with the phrase, ‘’our hands’’, pondered about it briefly and then I let go.
As we exchanged telephone numbers at the foyer of the hotel, I whispered Professor Osunbor’s name to her. We have not seen each other since then. Though, we have had several phone conversations.
She called last Thursday night. ‘’Why Comrade Governor dey fall una hand nau?’’, she asked after a few queries, brief exchange of courtesies and pleasantries.
‘’How about?’’, I fired back.
‘’Aren’t you aware his chopper was grounded by some small boys in Benin?’’, she asked.
‘’Well, well, boys who were only performing their duties. Drivers do pay agberos at the motor parks before they embark on their destinations. Just as it is with the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), so it is at our airports. Agberos have at last taken them. Governors must learn to live with it’’, I replied.
‘’That’s not my point. How can a whole Comrade Governor fly on a chopper when his mates fly private jets? Na so una Edo don become broke-ass?’’, she asked.
Our conversation went on and on, back and forth until my madam’s trunk call from another continent ended it. I bade her goodnight.
All through last weekend, Eno’s question kept vibrating inside my head. ‘’How can a whole Comrade Governor fly on a chopper when his mates fly private jets?’’, I asked repeatedly. I barely managed through Saturday, occasionally shrugged my shoulders like a child who remembers only the ‘’’fire fire, fire fire!’’ section of the old English rhyme, ‘London’s Burning’. My head was on fire, literarily. Sunday dawned. The question grew in my head like the first light of dawn. ‘’Comrade Governor, you fall my hand,’’ I kept screaming at the imaginary images of him I formed in my mind’s eye, raged like a bull in a china shop.
Lucky Igbinedion wouldn’t have flown on a chopper. Not in his wildest dream. ‘’Well, he grew up flying everywhere in the numerous aeroplanes in the fleet of his father’s airline, Okada Air, I constantly reminded myself, smiling. In his heydays, he used to fly to Okada to inspect his father’s farmlands the Comrade Governor threatened to confiscate last month. Don’t ask how possible it ever was flying an aeroplane to a village without aerodrome. Visit Okada, every street is like the runway of Murtala Mohammed Airport. Besides, he had oyibo pilots and unlike the yeye ‘’Kora’’ (Korean) who pilots Comrade Governor everywhere.
Lucky Igbinedion made things happen. As a governor, he was the quintessential fine boy. Not the Costra Nosta kind of Eghosa Imasuen’s ‘’Fine Boys’’.
Don’t get me wrong, Comrade Governor is a fine boy in his own right. When I say ‘’in his own right’’, I am not suggesting he alone sees himself as ‘fine’. I invite my female readers to take their minds away from that image of him their eyes compel them to glimpse. Beauty is the deception poor poets sell. Forget it. Comrade Governor is a fine boy. He does fine things that marvel the world. Only a governor who is ‘fine at heart inherits the earth’. Comrade Governor’s heart, like the gallery of modern arts, is framed with goodness and meekness. He must inherit Edo state.
But, why should Comrade Governor fly on a cheap chopper when the treasury of the state he governs bursts at the seams? Edo state isn’t poor. C’mon, a governor is like the peacock; he exudes pride, and even if pretentiously, he displays what the people have and what they do not have but pretend they have. Democracy is packaging. The beauty of a governor is invariably the beauties of the people he governs. And with Edo state capping billions of naira as Internally Generated Revenue, must Comrade Governor live like the poor in spirit for the promise of the kingdom of heaven?
Seriously, for a Comrade Governor who lives every day like the proverbial caring mother who stays sleepless as she watches over a sleepless child, the people must provide him a life of comfort and luxury. Being a governor isn’t a thankless job. Imagine how often the Comrade Governor squeezes into a flying glass box each time he flies on that crap and his critics expect him to deliver on his promise of helping the people bid farewell to poverty?
Comrade Governor must not become like the American illusionist and endurance artist, David Blaine, who crouches inside glass boxes to surpass Houdini and to record his name in the Guinness Books, before we realise that flying on a glass box may be injurious to his health. Flying inside a glass box comes with the health warning. Think the Deep Vein Thrombosis, DVT. Tufiakwa, Comrade Governor must not be made to perform stunts like David Blaine! Wherever the Comrade Governor finds himself at any point in time is the Government House. A chopper can never pass as Government House in the skies. Only the exquisite Gulf Stream, the type Pastor Oyedepo flies, comes close. Why can’t the Comrade Governor own one like his brother-governors of Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Taraba states?
Money isn’t Edo state’s problem. There won’t be public outcry, even those hungry PDP lots who would want to cry so that Chief Anenih can hear them might think twice, if Comrade Governor purchases a private jet. Go ahead Comrade Governor, the people will cast and bind those Anenih’s lackeys if they dare shed tears.
However, if money is the problem, simply roll back the infrastructural developments going on in the hometowns of Anenih, Igbinedion and Ogiadomhe. If the rollbacks can’t secure good enough savings for the purchase of a private jet, levies on roads should be introduced; taxes payable by workers in Edo state increased. Or fund-raisers should be organised in the eighteen local government areas of the state. The latter isn’t novel. Didn’t a certain ‘’Jerry Boy’’ organise fund-raisers in 1985? Didn’t he bolt with the returns of the Internally Generated Goodwill (IGG) of the people?
Dear Comrade Governor, you are loved by the people and I trust they will not hesitate to fall head over heels to give you eternal happiness. You deserve it, action governor. Did I hear you scream, ‘’Edo state nor dey carry last, Oshio Baba, yes they can’’? Yes, Oshio Baba!
Edo state is the heartbeat of the nation. That appellation can truly be earned if a befitting private jet is purchased for a man who ensures that blood flows into the heart that beats for the nation. If you are a son, daughter, friend or in-law of Edo state and you read this, don’t dismiss it or laugh my proposal off. If Comrade Governor fall my hand, abeg make una nor fall Eno’s hand.
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