It was not you who involved Dr Akin when another Bull (ENYI) out of rumour materialized as presidential candidate. It was a friend of yours, your course mate. It was this friend of yours who told you you could use persuasion on Eddy. He told you you could persuade Eddy to step down for you. He told you that’s diplomacy. It was he who told you Dr Akin handles the toughest course in Eddy’s department. Your course mate told you your head of department is your tool.
Dr Akin talked to Eddy. When he did he cajoled Eddy. And told him you two were for the same cause. He told Eddy how well he admired his politicalvibrancy. Even though he was an outsider; as he called persons outside the humanities. He said to Eddy, that he admired his political resolve even as member of the science faculty. But it is a game of give and take, he made him know. Give your friend this one and as a member of your faculty for the next semester I will encourage you.
That day, as your H.O.D talked to Eddy before you you did not talk. Eddy too only listened. You listened because you were almost certain of the outcome. Eddy listened because it was supposed to be the final agreement on the matter. Because many of your friends and supporters had talked to him. He was promised support as Director of Socials.
As Dr Akin talked to Eddy, as he lectured him on reciprocation in politics, he said the kind of things he would say in your class. Politics is about forging alliances. Politics is a continuous affair. It is a union that lasts many years.
‘My friend’, he called Eddy. ‘This is an opportunity to create a synergy that will last you a life time.’
‘The Bull is an ally.’ Your H.O.D said not looking to any particular of you. But he heaved pride into your steady heart. Eddy’s face staggered up like a boxing promoter who’s about to throw in the towel.
‘Give me your support as D.O.S.’ Eddy begged.
That day you agreed on how to execute the first riot.
You were president. Eddy was Director of Socials. You were the face of student activism. The previous administration had begun efforts to have the school authority rescind a new levy. The levy was called examination fee. Announcement of the levy was made in your class by your H.O.D. That day you wanted to debate it. But Dr Akin sternly told your class all he had to do was pass information that came from the vice chancellor’s office. It was announced the semester before you ran for president.
You said students were not supposed to pay extra money as examination fee. You said it was unfair. The other time you tried to raise the levy in class Dr Akin laughed you off and called you a weak activist. In same manner, he said it was not his responsibility. He would not solicit for students before school authority. He told your class such matters were not considered a problem in his own days. In his own days of school activism. (If student activism had not been killed.) But in the days he taught you privately he encouraged you to resurrect it.
It was Eddy who organized the seventy or so students in Zik Square. It was he who had told them the university authority compromised the last Student Union Government and would go ahead with the levy. It was he who told them you would lead a demonstration to the vice chancellor’s office. The students, under you, were to register their displeasure. The seventy heads drew voices in the hundreds. The voices said; WE ARE NOT HAPPY, WE CANNOT BEAR THIS, TREAT US LIKE YOUR CHILDREN… The placards also read same.
A placard had REVERSE THE ILLEGAL FEE written on the white surface with a black colour. Later you told Eddy that was an inappropriate way to express a legitimate displeasure. You told him it shocked you when you saw it. That was when you stood in the pavement in front of the vice chancellor’s office. It was when your voice aired the mind of the students before the vice chancellor and the school authority.
You didn’t like what the placard read. But you liked that the vice chancellor was uncomfortable. You liked that his infamous baritone could not hide discomfort. You liked that he recognized you as the new government. And when days later your S.U.G council debated the ambiguous response you got from the school authority you said the most important point was that you registered your position as a new government.
That was on a Wednesday. On Friday of the next week police was in campus. A report had it that someone was shot. There was rumour of two fatalities. A girl you know was raped. A boy lost money that was supposed to be his school fees. The students rioted when your rumour seeped into campus that the vice chancellor had reneged on his pledge to drop the levy. Part of the false talk was that the special squad of the Nigeria Police had arrested Eddy on his way to class. The students caused trouble. And the police came.
While police paraded the school main gate students broke louvers and ceiling. By the time you made the five minutes plea for peace you were in front of the auditorium. You knew a boy called Eric and some other group of rascals had pulled down the fence around the back gate. You knew your riot had slipped away from you. You knew it had turned violent. You heard the sound you were told later was the sound of gun shot by students. You knew it was then everything wrong could happen to anybody. You knew nothing about the safety of your students. You had no clue what the school authority was up to. You did not know Eddy’s whereabouts.
It was later, that night, Eddy told you the signal you were both expecting came. But it came late. He told you when you searched for him he was at the library waiting for the representative. He told you he stayed there from 8:00am till it was dark.
You began to blame him for what Eric and the other boys did. You told him he should have given them signal that the plan was on course. You told him you could not go to them because you feared of your safety. Because you feared that if you told them their role was no longer necessary it was a must that you settled them. And you hadn’t the money to.
Eddy complained to you that they had started off rather too early. They should have given more time. At least 11:00am. He told you by the time he learnt of the riot it was late. He could not leave the library. He learnt he was declared missing.
It was then you repeated that it was not your fault that the riot started. The school authority had promised to provide the appropriation of the S.U.G from the school budget. They said they would do so from the beginning of the week. When you negotiated, you said the week was tense. You needed the money to arrange activities for the students. It was to avoid what happened. You wanted to avoid rascals hijacking the legitimate demand of the real students. But the settlement came late.
The next day you led a peace rally. It was on a Saturday. You led the peace rally to restore calm in the campus. You did not say anything about the fee. You said what was paramount was peace and the safety of your students. That day you said your government would do everything to make sure peace reigned in the institution. You promised that the students would get their due through dialogue and discipline. As years went by, you maintained that was a high point in your activism. You said it taught you how to handle agitations with dialogue.
It was the point The Union secretary, Rogers, made again and again. ‘Let’s continue with the dialogue.’ He said this with a tone that defied his height. It wasn’t the Rogers that would hold Ike by the collar and tell him he was a stupid vice-president to oppose the views of his principal. It wasn’t the Rogers you begged to stop fighting with a certain landlord. The landlord claimed he had paid his annual dues to the secretary of the union. He fought him because the land lord couldn’t recognize him as the secretary. He does not talk soft always. You said the only soft thing about him was his albino skin. Whenever you said that you added that the path he took to the summit he had reached in activism tanned him into something between hypo pigmentation and a dark skin colour.
It was when Rogers came between you and Eddy you unclasped your fist from his shirt. He too did. Your safari suit did not rumple. But Eddy’s shirt did. He strengthened it before stepping back to his desk. You did not look at Eddy. Instead you looked at Madam. And you looked at Rogers.
Something made you wonder if Madam told Eddy anything about you. But you didn’t think about that again. You wondered why Rogers talked soft. You wondered if he felt Eddy’s office needed diplomatic silence, as he often said. You wondered if he would say your idea failed.
The day you saw Rogers at Eddy’s office, it was like a re-union. They were on a courtesy visit to the honourable commissioner. They were the executives of The Union. You called Rogers to one end of the corridor. You said you wanted to talk to him as an old acquaintance. When you talked you asked him about the affairs of The Union. It was then he said things to remind you you are a founding member of The Union. It was then he laughed out loud and said ‘You are a part of us.’ That you would understand the challenges of The Union.
You had met Rogers some days later at The Bar. He told you your record was up to date. He gave you receipt for all your outstanding dues. It was then he spent so much words to let you know you are eligible for any position in The Union.
Eight weeks later, the president died.
It was Rogers who came to tell you Mr Etioka was dead. After a brief illness. It was he who told you it was good PR for the honourable commissioner to release a condolence message for such a stakeholder. Which you prepared immediately.
When Rogers was about to leave the ministry that day, he told you this was your opportunity.
You did not tell Eddy of your plan until you had done all the groundwork. Rogers promised to give you every assistance you needed. He said you were the kind of ally any activist wanted. He assured you the support of majority of executive members. He told you he was certain his plans to make you president of The Union would work.
Even then, you did not tell Eddy. You told him on a Saturday evening at The Bar. It was after your third visit to the shrine Rogers had told you about. You did not go to the shrine with Rogers anyway. Actually when he told you everything about the shrine it shocked you. But you never let Rogers know. You were surprised how willing he was to tell you about such a place. But you never let Rogers feel your shock. You agreed when he said you were an old player. He said you knew all these things. You agreed. You agreed because you did not want to look naive.
It was then he explained the direction to you, without looking at your dismissive face twice. It was then he called the name of the man he last took to that place. And told you the man’s own did not work. He told you it was because the man did not show enough goodwill to the destitute as he was asked to. Then you told him you no longer believe in such missions. And he did not challenge you. You told him you will get the support of Eddy. He said you were right. His effort and the support of the honourable commissioner to the executive governor of the state would make you president of The Union.
When you told Eddy, it excited him.
You said it was good your name was not in his official list of aides. He said ‘that was a wise decision.’
You said ‘I know…’
You repeated ‘I know’ before you carried up your cup of beer. You poured the beer into your mouth. And thought about Eddy playing the early days of your alliance in his mind.
Your mind ran home from that distance when Eddy started to caper about the Awka conference. You did not say anything else about your ambition. You bore you expectations in your mind.