‘My fellow people of Epe…’ Shola faltered as he tried to put his thoughts together.
‘My fellow people of Epe,’ he repeated, ‘it is my ple….my…pleas…’ Shola went off tangent. The snippets of the dream he had the previous night filtered through his mind like a movie screen.
‘Give me my ball,’ the lad cried after the bully who took his ball.
‘Catch me if you can?’ the bully dared the lad as he ran with the ball.
The lad chased after the bully, but before he realizes it, he accidentally ran into an oncoming motorbike.
The lad writhed helplessly in the pool of his own blood while a handful of sympathizers gathered at the scene of the accident.
The remorseful bully halted and quietly released the ball towards the direction of the accident scene and walked away.
‘Of what use is the ball now when the boy’s legs have been crushed?’ one of the sympathizers remarked.
‘Oh, daddy why the silence?’ Ade shook his father from his reverie, ‘why are you absentminded?’ Is this how you’re going to address your subjects when you’re eventually sworn in?
‘Ade…I’m bothered…you remember the dream…’ Shola shivered.
‘About the lad and the ball?’ Ade probed his father.
Shola nodded his head in affirmation. He knew there was no correlation between what he saw in the dream and his present state, but his mind was just too restless to rehearse any speech.
‘Cheer up daddy. I need you to be more articulate this time around. Now, as the chairman of Epe LGA, can I hear your welcome address to your people?’
‘Ade, I’m not in the mood for any rehearsal. I wish I am as naive as you are.’
Although from the results at the polling stations, every indication was pointing towards Shola as the new chairman of Epe LGA, but somewhere in the heart of the politician lay a remote fear which weighed the middle-aged man down on the inside.
‘Up Sholly! Up chairman!’ some jubilant youths chanted outside the building.
‘Daddy, your people are here,’ Ade announced peering through the window.
Shola signaled to the security man to let them in. Beaming in satisfaction as his attention caught the inscription on the big banner: ‘Epe youth welcomes our new chairman,’ Shola waved his acknowledgment.
‘Up chairman!’ the chants continued.
Shola masked his fears. The delay in the final announcement of the winner of the chairmanship position made him nervous. And while he fought the secret demon besieging his mind, another group comprising some of the notable women in Epe LGA danced along with their big banner.
‘The platform is set,’ Ade whispered to his father, ‘let the party begin, the delay in the announcement notwithstanding, you’re already the winner!’
Meanwhile at the electoral poll in Epe LGA, the Collation Officer was detained in a small room.
‘What is the meaning of all this?’ Mike, the Collation Officer stared at the heavily bearded man before him,’ why don’t you allow me do my job?’
‘Your job?’ the heavily bearded man sneered, ‘why not? I would allow you do it my own way!’
‘So, what do you want from me?’
‘Go and declare the chairmanship results inconclusive.’
‘But…that’s not true…’
The heavily bearded grabbed him by the throat, while the latter squirmed in vain protest.
‘Now, are you ready to carry out my orders?’
The helpless man nodded his affirmation.
With the deferment of the chairmanship election date, Shola refused to be assuaged by the several appeals from his party members.
‘But this is unfair!’ he ranted over the phone, ‘why should I be used as a scape goat?’
‘Honourable Shola, it’s advisable you keep your fingers crossed for now,’ the Party leader advised, ‘you still remain the number one candidate for that position. We would talk more on this in our next meeting.’
‘Okay,’ Shola hung the phone, but still boiling in rage.
Early the following morning he set off for the scheduled Party meeting. As his chauffeur drove him to the venue of the meeting, he observed that almost all his ‘Assurance 2000’ posters which once dotted the streets in his neighbourhood, had been pulled off.
‘There is no smoke without fire,’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’ve gone too far in this political race to retreat!’
Seeing poverty-stricken individuals everywhere on the streets as his car drove reinforced his resolve to fight with the last drop of his blood.
As his chauffeur slowed down to maneuver through a pothole, one young man along the way flagged down his vehicle, brandishing a poster of ‘Assurance 2000’ poster towards Shola.
Shola wound down thinking he was one of his supporters.
‘Good afternoon Mr. Assurance,’ the young man began, ‘have you assured your life?’
Before the middle-aged politician could utter a word, the young man pulled the trigger, firing several shots at him, and quietly vanished into thin air.
The news of the demise of the erstwhile politician came like every other news in the country; nothing changed. A fresh election was conducted few months later which installed a candidate from the opposition party. The injustice done to the late politician as well as his gruesome murder was swept under the carpet. No one was bold enough to press charges.
Ade mourned the death of his father. In his epitaph, he wrote: ‘Adieu, Honourable Shola Aiyelagbe. You came, you saw but never conquered!
Several years went by and justice seemed far-fetched; not even from Shola’s political allies.
Ade gathered what was left of his belongings one day in preparations to relocate abroad. The country was then under an austere administration. The effect of the recession was visibly written on the faces of many families and corporate bodies. The erstwhile hype of the ‘Assurance 2000’ was already thrown into one of the defunct archives of the nation.
Suddenly, like a bolt out of the blues, one single announcement from the Federal Government of Nigeria caused a landmark change in the Aiyelagbe family. The announcement included a live confession on the deliberate withdrawal of the announcement which would have adjudged Honourable Shola Aiyelagbe as the chairman of Epe LGA.
Many compensations were made to the Aiyelagbe family. As Ade savoured the news, the dream his father told him about the boy and the ball, several years ago, filtered through his mind.
‘Of what use is the ball, when the boy has lost his legs, ‘Ade recalled solemnly.
Is the revisit of Honourable Shola’s case one of the political ploys by the incumbent administration to cheaply win more electorates? Ade thought as he listened to the numerous encomiums the Federal Government showered on his father. Time would tell, he concluded in his mind.
Amidst the accolades his late father received, some family members and friends who had long time deserted the family, suddenly began to resurface. Could their show of concern be genuine? Time alone, would tell.
Final remarks: It is no longer news that the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared Chief MKO Abiola winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections; and in line with that also, altered the democracy day from May 29 to June 12 to honour him.
Several reactions have since trailed this declaration on social media. While some believe it was a genuine and welcomed gesture, others believe it could be a political ploy for 2019 elections. Whose claim is valid? Time alone would tell.
Remember to stay up to date with the latest development on the June 12 saga here on Concise News.