Abeokuta – a short story





Tony Ogunlowo




       Abeoukuta in the local Yoruba language loosely means ‘ under a stone’, a reference to another time when people used to hide under the huge Olumo rocks to seek refuge from the then marauding slave hunters from Dahomey and Ibadan.

Abeoukuta today is the capital of Ogun state, home to the mighty Egbas , a proud warrior race once recognised by the British government as the Egba United Government. Traders   and farmers who became part of modern day Nigeria in 1914.

Today, another Trio were seeking refuge in the shadow of the famous rocks.

The Trio were not seeking refuge from the slave traders of a begotten age, or of any crime but from their own popularity – or un-popularity!

The three men who sat in the living room of an unknown host were the country’s top power mongers and kingmakers, who at one time or another had  ruled the country or appointed puppets or pawns to run it for them.

There was the tall, dark and handsome Mallam from the North, stocky Hajji from the Middle belt and the ageing Chief from the South.

The Three represented the three major tribal factions that is known as Nigeria.

Publicly, they are never seen together and in the rare instances that their paths have crossed its resulted in verbal battles and accusations and their followers have resorted to bloody physical battles, leaving people injured and sometimes dead.

They are each others sworn enemies who blame each other – publicly – for the downfall of Nigeria and its present predicament.

Yet , here away from the glare of the public they’re friends, happy to eat and drink and talk about the good old days – and of days to come, in the company of each other. Great Britain may have the Templar’s and Illuminati and America may have the Majestic Twelve but here in Nigeria its just the Trio.

“This Jonathan boy doesn’t know what he’s doing”, said Mallam shovelling a spoonful of boiled rice into his mouth.

Hajji shook his head,”…like you did any better when you were there…”.

“ When I was there…”, replied Mallam,”…there was law and order and the country was fine!”.

Chief cut him short,”….what by executing drug pushers and operation clean the nation ?…what about your Boko haram boy?”

Mallam made a gesture with his fingers, reverting to pidgin English,”…that one his head  is not correct, I’ve tried to talk to him but he won’t listen…”.

“Talk to him?”, shouted Hajji,”…you should do it the way I did things…..sweeten him up and lure him out of hiding and blow him up or shoot him!”.

“And what about his followers ?”, asked Chief,”…you can’t just leave them….When the Americans killed Bin Laden his followers carried on the fight!”.

“ I’ll put a garrison of my finest there…”, began Hajji,”…and shoot them all like dogs!”.

Mallam wasn’t bothered”,…I don’t know why you worry…I’ve spoken to some people and he and his supporters will soon disappear!”.

“Disappear ?”, laughed Chief”,…you’re good at making things disappear, like the NNPC three billion dollars…”.

Mallam was angry,”…I didn’t steal  three billion dollars, we borrowed it for the interest….kettle calling the pot black…Hajji didn’t you steal ten billion dollars?”.

Chief started laughing.

Hajji turned on Chief,”…I don’t know why you are laughing….you had the job twice and stole more than fifty billion dollars…you bloody thief!…barawo!”.

Chief couldn’t help but laugh out aloud, finding the whole conversation amusing,”…a thief calling a thief, thief…we are all thieves !…agba 419..agba ole!”.

They all burst out laughing.

“So who is doing this 2015 job then ?”, asked Chief taking a sip of his palm wine.

Like an impertinent school boy, Mallam stuck his hand in the air,”…me!. After Umaru died you promised me the job after Jonathan…”.

“…but first you have to take care of that Boko Haram bad boy, the world is watching…”.

Hajji wasn’t so sure,”….can’t we vote on this ?”.

“ Vote ?”, asked Chief,”…vote on what? There’s only three of us, two say ‘no’, you say ‘yes’….motion carried forward”.

Hajji still wasn’t happy,”….I am still the best man for the job”.

Mallam had the answer for him,”….remember the last time you had the job?”.

Hajji nodded.

“… the people called you ‘Hajji the Liar’ and ‘Hajji the Pretender’ and if you read the newspapers people believe you are funding that Boko haram boy!”.

“That’s not true !”, retorted Hajji,especially when you, Mallam, know him personally!”,

“You can’t prove that!”, replied Mallam.

“You are both rubbish!”, interjected Chief , notoriously known as the ultimate power broker and back seat driver,”…I’ll decide who does the job in 2015…and its going to be me!”.

“Why you?”, asked both Mallam and Hajji together.

Chief was smiling now,”…because you two characters have no credibility left in the eyes of the people or the rest of the world….but I  still do!”.

It all started a long time ago. First Chief had the job, resigned and gave it to a civilian. Mallam wasn’t   happy with this so he kicked the civilian out of office and sat on the throne.

Now Hajji wasn’t happy he was excluded from it all, so with the help of his despotic underdog he kicked Mallam off the throne and sat on it themselves.

As two kings can’t sit on the same throne, the underdog got rid of hajji and made himself President for Life.

Unfortunately President for Life’s  regime was caught short when he died apparently after taking a Viagra overdose.

With President for Life dead the country found itself in the hands of a caretaker government. Fresh elections were held and to every ones surprise, Chief won.

So it was Chief in the beginning and Chief in the end, until he agreed to step down and become a powerbroker.

Now he was hungry for more power.

The other two had to accept that they had been outclassed and calmly accepted defeat.

Chief was happy his ploy had worked, his cap tilting to one side as he took another sip of his drink.

“ So what do my people in the North get if we go with you in 2015?”, asked Mallam. He had known the other two for years in the corridors of power and he knew when to back down  and negotiate.

“You take care of that Boko Haram bastard…”, began Chief,”…and in 2015 I’ll go fifty fifty  with you on Ministers and the National Cake…”.

Mallam wanted more,”…we need major federal government investment grants…”

Chief waved his finger ,admonishingly, “ ….first you stop that Boko Haram boy from blowing up things and killing people…then we’ll talk!”.

Hajji still wasn’t happy, as usual he was being left out of it,”…I still think its my turn in 2015, but what do I get if I decide to back you in 2015?”.

Chief dropped a bombshell,”…you’ll be my running mate!”

The other two men’s jaws dropped. They all headed rival political parties and the amalgamation of one from the Middle belt and one from the South would be unheard of. But if the coalition of the Liberal Democrats and Conservative  parties could work in the United Kingdom it could work in Nigeria. If the right money changed hands and the right influence asserted , the impossible could become possible and even the constitution could be changed.

Mallam stood up , shaking a fist angrily at them,”…you two geriatrics are always doing this to me! Ganging up against me…why can’t  I be your running mate?”.

Chief shook his head in disbelief, this Northerner will never get it !”…You can’t be my running mate because you’re a North Northerner and in the eyes of the public you  and Boko Haram are the best of friends…you’re not electorate material!”.

“But I’m not friends with Boko Haram and people will vote for me!”, retorted Mallam.

“So why don’t you go public and condemn Boko Haram and earn yourself some credibility ?”, Hajji said.

“Hajji…I don’t see you publicly condemning Boko Haram…”, replied Mallam.

Chief watched the two men squabbling like kids, they were all powerful men in Nigeria but he was more powerful and cunning than they could ever be. He had won this one hands down!

Chief coughed to stop the squabbling,”…when you two ladies stop fighting we’ll talk about the formation of my new government cabinet in three years time, in 2015…”.

The evening wore on. There were more squabbles, more horse trading, more negotiating, favours were asked and favours were called in as the Three Kingmakers decided the future of Nigeria in the living room of a nondescript farm in Abeoukuta.

4 thoughts on “Abeokuta – a short story” by Tony Ogunlowo (@tony2)

  1. …from a race fleeing from marauders now a proud race – the Egbas… a beautiful title with a historical connection of realities… the story is quite captivating… I’d suggest if you could write more about Abeokuta… it’s really nice.

  2. This is a very very good story. I will sure vote for this a million times. I love the sarcasm buried beneath. You’d better watch out @tony and don’t fink we’re in democracy yet o. This story can put you away. Gbabe!

  3. This is a story that fictionalises a conspiracy theory of which is very believable. I know who the characters represent in real life as you gave us pointers within the story.

    I like the Social Realism concept of the story….its a good way to do an expose on Nigeria’s leadership and bring to the understanding of the reader the power game that thrives between those that wield it; the farce we call a democracy.

    But I think this story deserves a better title. Its current title seems to conflict with the story.

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