General Anuba sat on a big chair in the sitting room. He had a bowl of kunu in his hand. On the wall, directly above his head was a large framed picture of him. The expression on his face was similar to the expression he had in the picture. He was a hard man, always ready to punish for sins committed and those not committed.
The game was on and the Brazilians were thrashing the national team, three goals to one.
He pressed a button on the phone beside him.
‘Come in, right now,’ he said.
Kami, the CSO, walked smartly into the office and saw that same vexation on his boss’ face. He thought that one of those bloody press guys had done another ‘bad’ news about his boss and it was time to pay back. ‘Well done, Sir,’ he said.
General Anuba looked at him and asked, ‘who are the bloody people in charge of our football?’ and before the CSO could speak, he concluded, ‘put them all in prison.’
It was not the bloody press, Kami realized; it was football that made his boss’ ugly face, uglier.
‘Sir, if I may speak on the matter.’ The General, with his eyes fixed on the television, signaled him to talk.
‘We are playing against the Brazilians…Sir. No one beats the Brazilians…Sir.’
‘Nonsense! Rubbish! You talk like civilians’, he said, ‘boy, you are in the army, football is strategy just like war. You plan it well and you win, you don’t,’ he points to the television, ‘this is what happens to you, international disgrace. Is the coach from our country?’
‘No Sir, he is a white man.’
‘Haba! Why can’t we use our own people? Don’t we have coaches in the army? A white man! We cannot really deal with him, just sack him and send him out of the country. I don’t want those Amnesty idiots to keep disturbing me.’
‘Sir, what of our own officials?’
‘What about them? I give you orders to put them in prison.’
‘And the players?’
‘Yes, them too’, he replied, ‘…no…no, leave the players, some of them work in Europe, right?’
‘Leave them. I don’t want white government people at my door. Just pay them half salary, that’s all.’
The CSO stood fixated and watched the game. He knew his boss wasn’t joking but he remembered the local press.
‘What is it again?’ This time around, the General looked at his face.
‘It is the press, sir and the human rights people. They will start talking nonsense.’
‘Press! Human Rights! Labour Leaders!’ He sighed. ‘Bloody people, always talking nonsense, saying my government is bad. They want civilians again but they are worse people. What is wrong with our people?’
‘It is the Press, Sir,’ but General Anuba did not seem to hear his CSO, he continued to talk.
‘Civilians are bad! Don’t they know that already? It happened first, second and third time. When they were in power, they destroy everything, our economy, our national dignity and everything…Kami, what did you say?’
‘The press people tell the people what to believe, Sir.’
‘Oh! The press…tell them they were arrested for mismanagement of funds, after all, everybody is stealing money nowadays, except me.’
Kami smiled. General Anuba looked at him irritably, ‘what is funny? We are losing the game and you are happy?’
‘No Sir, I am just thinking of what to do them, when we arrest them.’ He lied. His thoughts were on what his boss had just said. Everybody is stealing money nowadays, except me. His boss had lied.
‘Is that funny?’
‘No longer funny Sir.’ Kami said and walked out of the room.
Few minutes later, General Anuba called, ‘Did you watch the game? Those boys are wonderful. They came back and killed the Brazilians. I told you, football is strategy, if you plan it well, you win.’
‘That’s right, Sir’, Kami’s voice beamed on the phone, ‘but…’
‘Yes, I’m listening.’
‘The order, Sir…mismana-’
‘Forget about that. Suspend the arrest,’ General Anuba replied and ended the call.