(Published in The PUNCH, on Monday, May 16, 2022)
Nightfall in Abuja. Smoke filters through the savannah foliage, skywards. A bird’s-eye view reveals that all is not well under the canopy of forest below as a cacophony of voices rises and falls like traders’ babble on market day.
It’s another hunting season in the Forest of a Thousand Demons located in the Ass-o-Rock region, and more than two-dozen hunters surround the big anthill with guns, spears, Bibles, machetes, Qurans, fire, juju, etc looking to kill the biggest game.
He who kills the fabled grass cutter will be the King of the Forest of a Thousand Demons for the next four years. Excited and motivated by greed, most of the hunters talk at once like barbarians, each trying to outdo the other.
There are many rodents in the anthill of the savannah. The Commander-in-Chief, Association of Fortune Hunters, Sai Kwaruption, had twice killed the biggest grass cutters in the anthill to emerge King of the Forest – since seven years ago. Thereafter, only he, his household and cronies have been feeding fat on all the game in the forest, which are more than enough to go round the citizenry. But now, the people are hungry and angry with their teeth set on edge.
On this hot afternoon, Sai Kwaruption sits on Ass-o-Rock veranda overlooking the anthill as the hunters take strategic positions. He stretches his gangly legs on the stool, his lips clipping a toothpick while he savours the remains of another bushmeat pepper soup, belching and smacking his lips. He also scratches his sweaty dome.
To participate in the once-in-four-years bloody hunt, each fortune hunter pays 100 million cowries…deceit and wickedness pervade the land.
All the participating hunters look desperate with their supporters singing hate songs against rivals. Sai Kwaruption is enjoying every moment. He stands up from the couch on the veranda and walks to the anthill to read the riot act.
Sai Kwaruption: By the constitutional powers conferred on me, I hereby declare as follows:
1) All participating hunters are to resign from eating from the national cake forthwith.
2) Every participating hunter will not feed from the Royal Kitchen till next May when the overall winner of the contest will emerge.
3) The 100 million cowries paid as participation fee are non-refundable.
(Some of the participating hunters grudgingly say, ‘Yes, Your Excellency’.)
Sai Kwaruption: Those among you that don’t want to continue with this hunt should raise their hands up? It’s not by force; anyone can withdraw now; we’re in a democracy. Are you raising your hand, Pabio?
Honourable-Minister-Issokay: No, sir. I’ll go for the lottery, sir.
Sai Kwaruption: Are you raising your hand, Zacchaeus of Anambra?
Zacchaeus of Anambra: Yes, sir. I’m opting out; a cake in hand is worth two in the oven. I’ll go by what I see, sir, and not what I expect. Workers’ crises may linger forever but my political LABOUR shall never be in vain, sir.
Sai Kwaruption: What about you, Uzaw Abia? I learnt you withdrew.
Uzaw Abia: Your Excellency, prison doors have been opening in my dreams. I participated just to align with the most popular aspirant in order to secure for myself another four years out of prison.
Sai Kwaruption: (Laughs) That was why you joined our party when I became president, I know. I was actually coming for you, walahi, until you joined our sinless party. Smart boy!
Uzaw: Thank you, Your Excellency. That small boy I installed was out to liquidate me. He pursued me from the Peoples Dehumanising Party (PDP) and declared me a dropout. That’s why I ran to your party, the All Promises Cancelled (APC).
Sai Kwaruption: You’re safe as long as you support the North.
Uzaw: Thank you, Your Excellency. Your wish is my command, sir. You’re the father of modern Nigeria.
Sai Kwaruption: Is the Centre Bank chairman here?
Centre Bank: I’m here, sir. I’m governor, not chairman, sir.
Sai Kwaruption: Who elected you? You’re chairman, my friend! You’re appointed.
Centre Bank: Yes, sir.
Sai Kwaruption: Why are you participating in the hunting without resigning?
Centre Bank: With you all things are possible, sir.
Sai Kwaruption: (Laughs and nibbles at his kola nut) Goddy is a bad boy! You have wisdom and understanding, walahi!
Centre Bank: Thank you, Your Excellency. That’s why I publicly wished Nigerians heart attacks. I know my job is safe as long as I worship you.
Sai Kwaruption: (Laughs and looks beyond Centre Bank) Oh, Pastor, you’re here?
Pastor: I’m here, Your Excellency.
Sai Kwaruption: Not your own pastor, I’m talking about Pastor Sweet 16. (Points to the right side of the anthill)
Pastor Sweet 16: (Speaking in Cockney accent) As it pleases the Lord of Hosts, I’m here, Your Excellency.
Sai Kwaruption: You paid 100 million cowries, too?
Pastor Sweet 16: Yes, I did, without breaking a sweat.
Sai Kwaruption: But me, I couldn’t afford 25 million cowries to participate in hunting in 2015. I took out a bank loan.
Pastor Sweet 16: You and I know you can pay even if the amount was 200 million cowries. Your Excellency, please, dismount from that horse of hypocrisy, I know you’re worth billions. The poor don’t send their children to the best schools abroad. You know I’ll always tell you the truth.
Sai Kwaruption: (Smiles conspiratorially) Are you sure the oncoming political latter rain won’t beat you?
Pastor Sweet 16: No, your Excellency. I stand firmly on the Rock of Ages. I will shine light on the nebulosity of our political plains when I attain power.
Sai Kwaruption: Are you sure it was God that spoke to you?
Pastor Sweet 16: Make no mistake about it, Your Excellency; heaven and earth may pass away, but none of my words shall pass away without being fulfilled: You’re 15, I’m 16.
(Four men in black suits walk briskly to the veranda and pay courtesy to the King)
Sai Kwaruption: What’s it, DSS?
DSS: There’s trouble in Sokoto, Your Excellency. The seat of the caliphate is burning.
Sai Kwaruption. Call the fire service; can’t you see we’re busy? Go and solve the problem.
DSS: We can’t solve it sir, even the governor of the state is shaking and sweating, sir.
Sai Kwaruption: Why is he shaking and sweating after defecting to FiDiFi? He should stop shaking and solve the problem.
DSS: The problem is beyond him, sir.
Sai Kwaruption: What’s the problem?
DSS: It’s about an alleged blasphemy, sir?
Sai Kwaruption: Bros Femi, the oil magnate? What about Femi?
DSS: No, sir. A Christian girl, Deborah Samuel, was burnt by Muslim youths over alleged blasphemy against Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).
Sai Kwaruption: Why did she speak ill of the Prophet?
DSS: We found out that she didn’t.
Sai Kwaruption: Are you the law court?
DSS: No, sir. But we have audio evidence of what the girl said before she was set ablaze, sir.
Sai Kwaruption: You said she was burnt?
DSS: Yes, sir.
Sai Kwaruption: Can somebody burnt to death cause a protest?
DSS: No, sir. Those who burnt her were arrested and detained. That’s the cause of the raging protest in Sokoto.
Sai Kwaruption: How did they know who burnt her?
DSS: They brazenly showed their faces in the viral video posted online.
Sai Kwaruption: What do you advise I do now?.
DSS: Postpone this hunting exercise, sir.
(To be concluded)
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