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A Play of Two Cities

A Play of Two Cities: When the Nigerian President Travels

A Play of Two Cities: When the Nigerian President Travels

Act One, Scene One

It is a sanitised clime. Here, common sense is a common commodity – used by the leaders in leading, deployed by the led in demanding for better leadership. Settling quietly at the heart of the city is the office of the President. Modest for a place that houses the first family in a nation of 200 million minds. It is surrounded by a handful of guards and a see-through gate. In the innermost office is President Sankara, the businessman, philanthropist and activist turned president. He had won the election the previous year by a landslide. Through the thick lenses of his eyeglasses, he pores through a thick document on his desk. With a red pen, he crosses out certain items and reduces some other figures. Boldly written on the document are the words: “2019 National Appropriation Bill”.

His phone suddenly rings. Swiftly, he picks up the holder. He’s been expecting it. On the other end is his Aide de Camp.

ADC: Mr President.

Sankara: Youssef, how’re you doing?

ADC: Very well sir… Mr President, on your scheduled visit to the Kanda Province, I’m just calling to ask how you want to go about it… The Governor too is on the line.

Governor: Good day, Mr President. We can’t wait to host you in Kanda in the coming week. In fact, my wife has ordered for ingredients with which to prepare your favourite delicacy.

Sankara: Ha-ha! Thank you, Your Excellency. Regards to your lovely wife.

Governor: Certainly sir.

ADC: The journey sir.

Sankara: Yes, I think I’ll just stick to the Business Class of our National Airlines as usual. I also would not like too much noise about this since we are only commissioning four rail networks, three housing estates, and one world-class university of science and technology. I don’t want my people to start asking if the president is jobless.

ADC: Oh, yes sir.

Governor: And Mr President, where would you like to be lodged during the four days? You know we house the only seven-star hotel in the country. We can make reservations as soon as …

Sankara: Oh no, dear governor. Asante sana! I want to use the period to spend time with my aging dad. He lives also close to the capital. We can always use a chopper to get to the launch sites, so as to cause minimal disruption in daily activities.

Governor: Alright then, Mr President. We’ll improve the security within that perimeter a day before your arrival.

Sankara: Thank you, brother.

ADC: Mr Governor, is there anything else you wish to confirm?

Governor: No, Youssef.

ADC: I guess that’ll be all then.

Sankara: Great! Have a good day, you two. And Youssef, don’t forget to see me by 10.

ADC: Yes, Mr President.

Sankara: Thank you. [Hangs up]. Now, back to this document…. How come the Ministry of Finance is getting so much for recurrent expenditures? Hmmm… Where’s this man…


Act Two, Scene One

It is a sanatorium. Here, common sense is as common as suya without pepper and square-shaped pizzas. The president’s office is the greatest highlight in a country of many miles and 180 million heads. So grand was the construction that an entirely new state was created for it in the bush. Surrounded by high walls and tough-looking armed men, it is not a place for common men, just as it also sieves out common sense and anything that resembles it. In the innermost office is President Wanmotam (one more time), popularly called Sai Baba. He has dozed off on his desk, understandably because this is one of the few moments he has to revitalise his aging bones. Just beneath his wrinkled face, dancing salsa with his rhythmic snore, is a document. Boldly written on it are the words, “2019 National Appropriation Bill”.

His phone suddenly rings. And, like one pursued from the dreamland by nightmarish umbrella-holders, he springs up. After six or seven seconds of face-rubbing, he manages to save the call from drowning into the missed calls log. On the other end is his loyal Aide de Camp.

ADC: Barka da asuba, Mr President! Ina kwana?

Wanmotam: Lafiya. Lafiya.

ADC: Mr President, the Governor of Lagos state is also on the line to finalise arrangements for you trip sir.

Governor: Good morning, Mr President. The industrious people of Lagos state cannot wait to welcome you to our beautiful city.

Wanmotam: I’m glad to hear that, Governor.

Governor: We have made reservations at the best hotel there is on the Island. In fact, we booked all the rooms for the entire four days, so that Mr President will suffer no disturbance in the slightest.

Wanmotam: Aaah! Good. You know I like a good sleep. Thank you, my governor.

Governor: We are also thinking of getting a customised Monster Truck to convey you to the launch sites, and to the hotel from the airport, Mr President. Or would you rather have a helicopter?

Wanmotam: No, no! I want to use my usual car. I want to be with my people on the streets. But please add ten more cars to the convoy. You know Lagos can be a very rowdy place. You don’t know who is who.

Governor: Of course, Mr President. We totally understand.

Wanmotam: What do you think about declaring one or two days work-free in my name too? I know you people love to work, unlike those of us in Abuja. But I don’t want people to remember my visit as the day they worked morning to night. Let them rest, and maybe have some time to come and wave at me.

Governor: Consider it done, Mr President.

Wanmotam: Excellent! You know that is why I say you are the only Your Excellency with a Centre of Excellence.

Governor: [chuckles] Thank you, Mr President.

ADC: Is there anything else left to be discussed, governor?

Governor: Well, yes… but it is not a matter for a phone call… ahem, when the President arrives, we will discuss it, especially if the First Lady won’t be able to make it.

Wanmotam: [Laughs hysterically, revealing his gap-tooth for the first time] Hahaha… this boy… of course, of course. You are a great host, my governor. My regards to your cabinet.

Governor: Yes, Mr President.

ADC: Have a great day, Governor.

Wanmotam: Goodbye, Bode.

Governor: Goodbye, Mr President.

Wanmotam: By the way, Lamidi, as soon as you’re done over there, come and pick up this budget, and give it to Prof. The first page alone is making me dizzy.

ADC: Okay, Mr President.

Wanmotam: Nagode. [hangs up]

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I am Tubosun, the first son of Ajanaku; and my forte lies in casting light upon the bottomless pits of societal ills through the pastiche of news and satire.

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