Tightening the Noose

Tightening the Noose

The magnificent country that we are, we decided to go the unconventional way.  An open air presidential debate. “Fair” and “open”,  so no one could misinterpret any words. Or actions. No one could complain of compromised media.

*****

February 14, 2019
The crowd at Teslim Balogun Stadium spilled over into the main road. Twenty six thousand grumbling Nigerians, mostly Lagosians, swarmed around like angry bees. They were waiting for the Presidential debate candidates to arrive. It was one o’clock in the afternoon – three hours after the slated start time of the debate. A stifling unrest filled the air. Whether this was from a fear of the black  suited thugs with walkie-talkies and guns or the heat, no one could tell.

Coaster buses from different political parties surrounded the stadium. Multicolored paper posters, bearing faces of the candidates adorned their sides. Cameras and microphones from media stations were mounted at different locations in the stadium.  Party supporters routinely belted out party support tunes. The cameras would zoom in on them, they would go wild and sing louder, waving huge flags with party colors. A horde of women clad in Ankara superimposed with their candidate’s face suddenly materialized and shook humongous bottoms while the cameras watched.

By 1:30 pm, the grumbles had become more pronounced. Whispers had risen in the crowd that the candidates had agreed to have a personal debate at Aso Rock. The media soon picked this up and reported the news -without the words “alleged or rumors” starting their sentences. Hordes started leaving the stadium. They grumbled about how the candidates had no regard for the masses.

“If I vote any of them, make my left nyash bend.” One angry man screamed as he drove off. His voice was lost in the noise of the stadium.

As most of the crowd swept down the tiered seats towards the stadium gates, they noticed some scrambling coming from the walkie-talkie welding men walking around. Loud sirens could be heard in the distance. Clouds of dust loomed in the horizon.

Suddenly, shouts erupted from parts of the stadium.  The dust soon cleared to reveal a convoy of black Land Rover Defender jeeps and Toyota 2010 Camrys. A bunch of burly looking men dressed in black with MOPOL on their shirts ran ahead of the vehicles. They pushed people aside and threatened to break windshields and cameras. Cheers broke our amongst the supporters and in some parts of the crowd. Necks craned to see the candidates. The stadium was in an uproar as they both came down from their cars. White Agbadas trailed the dusty ground as they made their way through a specially constructed pathway. The pathway lead to a wooden erected stage where the debate would hold.

It took about thirty minutes for the crowd to quiet down and for the two stage microphones to start working. At this point, a standing fan had been deployed to the stage. Two Eleganza chairs now stood behind the two men daring them to rest their butts. They did not sit but tried valiantly to stand and smile. It managed to assuage the angry crowd.

“See, Egbon, they are not too big to stand up. They are men of the people.” Different words from the curses uttered minutes ago.

The opening remarks of the debate soon commenced. The moderator, Akaoliseh Longinus, a “Honorable” introduced the candidates, Mr Baha Kilo and Mr Ebenezer Mogaji, to mixed cheers and boos. He explained to the crowd how the debate was expected to go: timing, issues to be discussed and the allowance for closing statements. He then proceeded to end his introductory speech on a jovial note.

“Please do not be angry, my people. The candidates did not mean to be late. There was traffic at Ikeja and they were stuck there for some hours. You know how these things are now?”

He laughed happily, his big stomach boobing in front of him. His attempt at a joke was met with loud boos. Louder than they were before. A half full pure water sachet flew from the crowd and landed short of the stage. Honorable Akaoliseh made a mental note to sack his personal assistant for suggesting he tell the story. He stepped to the side of the stage and allowed the two candidates move to the front where two podiums stood.

Mr Baha, you have the first say. Our country has a huge problem with power. Could you let us know exactly what you think about this?” Akaoliseh asked.

Baha grinned from ear to ear and proceeded to answer the question. Every once in a while, he wiped his face with a black and white plaid handkerchief. His opponent, Ebenezer, who was re-running for the presidential seat, glared as Baha made allusions to malpractice in the country’s administration.

Ten minutes later, the mood in the stadium was flammable. Blame was being thrown about by both candidates. Baha took his Agbada overall off and grabbed the microphone from its stand. His face was set in a flustered scowl.

“My opponent should not tell me nonsense about corruption! You are corrupt. You, yourself, you are corruption personified!.”

“What are you insinuating?!” Ebenezer countered, screaming.

A CNN reporter, the African correspondent, and his camera man had just arrived. They watched, mouth agape, as the two traded words and then turned to the crowd and made promises.

A full hour and forty minutes passed between the screams and sweet talk, the moderator barely had a chance to get his questions in. They were promises of free education. Higher salaries. Constant electricity. Thick Madams embraced themselves, higher salaries for the masses would mean more people coming to eat at their bukas. The crowd thanked God. The fuel price would be stabilized.

The moderator waddled back to the middle of the stage. He seemed to be the worst hit from the heat. There were bold sweat patches on his formerly starched office shirt; the most prominent being a stain beneath his paunch.

“Gentlemen, thank you for the talk.” This time, he avoided allusions to humor. His ego still smarted from the last set of boos.” We have fifteen minutes for questions from the press.” The stadium went quiet.

“Yes, you.” Akaoliseh pointed with beefy fingers towards a reporter. A fresh faced reporter from GTBV stood. “Please someone give him a microphone!” A member of the technical team ran in a crouched position towards the Press canopy.

“Thank you for this opportunity to speak.” The reporter’s voice came out in a squeak. The stadium erupted in laughter. He cleared his throat. Louder laughter. “I am a reporter from GBTV and I would like to ask how exactly you would go about creating jobs if you get elected?”

“Who would you like to answer that question?” Akaoliseh asked.

“Mr Ebenezer.”

“Okay. Mr Ebenezer, please go ahead.” He moved a bit to the left side of the stage so the attention would be on the candidates once more.

Mr Ebenezer started. “Young man. It is good you have asked this question. Like I said before, I will make sure more jobs are created in every sector. I will…”

“Sorry to interrupt you, Sir. But how exactly are you going to create these jobs and what sectors exactly will you target?”

“Err.., all sectors. The sectors will be enlarged. New departments will be created to absorb qualified people.”

“Enlarged? Could you expatiate on the enlargement?”

Ebenezer looked at the young reporter with glazed eyes. Little beads of sweat rolled down the bridge of his nose. “It is a huge gradual process which has been drawn up already. But, it will be revealed when I am elected. You know, one must not reveal their tactics to the opposition,” he grinned and looked at Baha. A foolish, desperate grin.

The silence across the stadium was deafening. The CNN reporter typed furiously on his phone, informing the office at Nairobi of what had just happened. A few seconds passed before the uproar started. It never ended.

******

*All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead,  is purely coincidental.

*This work does not seek to promote or support any fictitious individual. All are rambles. A writer’s rambles.

*Image from Al-Ahram Weekly – http://bit.ly/1zCYcLu



7 thoughts on “Tightening the Noose” by Onu-Okpara Chiamaka (@Onu-OkparaChiamaka)

  1. @onu-okparachiamaka, this just cracked me up. Our politicians’ way of saying a lot of things without really saying anything.

    1. @folakemiemem-akpan, lol. I guess so. Or having nothing to say or do for the country but still wanting to get elected into power.

  2. This is one piece of writing I like …truthfully I don’t know how this didn’t make editors picks, considering the fact that we find a lot of questionable works as editors picks (smh).
    Skillful use of words –
    Great theme –
    Proper editing –
    You had respect for your readers enough to properly package the work before serving it to us … not like the very many stories we see around here where the writers are explaining away their laziness even before the story starts (words like – i wrote this 10 years ago so please excuse any mis-spellings, or this work is not properly edited because…. and bla , bla, bla -I simply just pass such works)
    sorry ’bout the small rants – just angry that if someone can put out a work as neat as this, i wonder why others can’t spend just a little more time to clean up their work before plastering it before our eyes.
    The Story line can improve tho but i get the idea -an easy feel, politically themed story, powered on by your skillful writing.

    well-done.

    Will be on the look-out for your works.

    1. Thank you very much @dees-hive, I do appreciate the comment. At least, now, I am more motivated to write carefully on NS knowing that people still look out for proper editing in a story/write-up.

      I appreciate your opinion on the writing style and theme and will definitely check out your work too.

      Have an amazing day.

  3. The first sentence I think it could have opened better with “Being” at its beginning.

    “…walkie-talkies and guns, or whether it was the heat…” so as not to make the sentence seem odd when read.

    “…Multi coloured posters…” Not too sure if paper should be there.

    “…ankara with their candidates faces imprinted…” superimposed makes it sound like the faces and the cloth are two separate things.

    “…shook THEIR humongous bottoms…” although, I must say it is mighty funny to picture the women shaking other people’s bottoms for them.

    “…from the walkie-talkie WEILDING men…” typo welding

    “…He explained to the crowd how the debate was expected to go concerning timing, issues to be discussed…” if you must use the colon, then you would have to further describe how the timing, discussion of issues, etc were actually to be done.

    “…You yourself are corruption personified!” there was a full stop after the exclamation mark (a major no-no)

    “…They watched, mouths agape…” we’re talking about two people now

    consider revising *formerly starched office shirt* did you mean the sweat affected the starch? perhaps “…previously starched office shirt…”

    consider revising *it never ended* if that is case, it means the crowd is there even now, shouting their throats hoarse. Perhaps “…and this time, it didn’t end for a long while…” or “…this went on for quite a while…” or “…seemingly without end…”

    It’s a hilarious write up when read first time. I read it all over again solely to nitpick.

    Nice one

    1. Hi @anakadrian,

      First, I apologize for taking this long to reply. I had exams but that’s gone now. Well, I was just laughing as I read your comment. I appreciate that you liked the story and went through it. I would really like you to do that for anything I write.

      Now, down to business.

      ——-

      I agree with you on the “being” at the beginning. It was a weird rushed introduction just as I wanted to send in the story. Not an excuse though.

      I also agree with you on many of the corrections. “Paper posters” was a bit of tautology (Tautology, I believe this is what is used for extraneous “nonsense”?)

      “Their humongous bums” – Of course it was their bum. How could I not have seen that when I put “their”…lol

      “…ankara with their candidates faces superimposed (imprinted)…” – Truthfully, I struggled here because I wasn’t sure of which term to use and I was too lazy to check. So, thank you dear.

      He explained to the crowd how the debate was expected to go concerning timing, issues to be discussed…” I did exactly what you suggested with the colon – right before I got rid of it and decided someone might get bored reading that. And I wasn’t about to get rid of this sentence and was too lazy to reconstruct it. It was important in the time sequence.

      You yourself are corruption personified! – Kai!. How, could I not have seen that. Thank you again.

      “They watched, mouths agape” — Lol. I get what you mean.

      *formerly starched office shirt* — Struggled here too. But yes, I did mean the heat affected his starched shirt.

      On the end sentence, *it never ended* , I put it there to imply that the noise and events of the debate did not stop at the stadium. It went ahead and affected the voting choices and the way the crowd perceived the candidates after that. I think the term/phrase here is, “Metaphorical use”. I am not certain about that though.

      Do correct me if I wrongly called that phrase a metaphorical one. *Grins*

      Thanks a lot Adrian. Your input is invaluable.

      1. Sure, @Onu-OkparaChiamaka , no probs. You’re welcome.

        “A horde of women…suddenly materialised…and shook humongous bottoms while the cameras watched”
        (Yeah… I did get that you meant their own bottoms. It was simply amusing to picture it otherwise.)

        Yes, the colon is more work to use, so I didn’t actually mean that you should. I substituted it with “concerning”

        Alrighty… But I think it should be a hyperbole more than anything. Metaphors are done in pairs of stuff, in that they link two unrelated ideas in a non literal sense. “It never ended” just seems to sit there like, static… gbam… fullstop… that’s all folks, ya know what I mean?

        Okay, lets make some metaphors going by your reply concerning the voters consequent discontent for the rest of the polls…

        *puts on cape*
        **drum roll**

        “A few second passed before the uproar started. It never ended”

        **abracadabra, hocus pocus… waves magic wand, speaks gibberish** wait for it… (I must confess, this took up to ten minutes)

        “Slowly, the storm clouds of the people’s indignation had gathered. By now it had started to rain.”

        **cymbals clash**

Leave a Reply