The beaming smile of the evening sun bouncing away worries in liquid form from Edddie’s cracked skin was not so soothing a feeling than the cooling pangs of the gentle flow of the Benue River massaging the touch of weariness off his tired legs. Oh! It was so arduous a day. All he could think of was how to get home to the embracing aroma of his wife’s Fufu and Moringa soup. This, he knew couldn’t happen unless he escapes the burgeoning routine of filling sands into polythene bags and changing the fuel in the lamps of the ‘’battalion’’ of soldiers that mount road block on his way home. A job he doesn’t receive a penny for but magnanimous slaps from generously thick sets of palms from the godogodo men.
As usual, he had no choice but to render his service to our dear fatherland through optimum commitment to the soldiers; his other family. He wishes to be like them though! How easy it would be to take home 5,000 Naira every other night without sweat or labour as they are used to. ‘’What a waste’’; he would muse to himself. ‘’All these my muscles are just for nothing!’’; ‘’ My thicker palms even have a firmer grip on those Ak’s’’. ‘’If not for pa that stopped me from going to school’’. These series of if nots were always interrupted by constant honk of impatient commercial motorists who dare not drive away without settling the ever patient men of the armed forces.
‘’Sergent Okoro, who was rather the only gentle and more compassionate of the Officers, was the one in charge today! Oh thank God, I would have that bluish looking Naira note added to the myriad of rubbishes in my pocket’’. So had Eddie been thinking to himself before a loud bang different from the normal tootle destroyed his lucky day, but created a luckier one.
It had happened this way:
The ‘’Hummer Bus’’ seemed to have wanted to jump the orderly assembly of ‘’tax collection’’ but lost control, hit and destroyed the Sand bag Eddie has been arranging all evening. In what might be termed the run of the century, the driver of the fateful vehicle managed to park safely as that’s the safest thing to do, alighted from the bus and instantly sped off with the speed of light humanly possible.
Rather than laughing at the outrightly funny melodrama unfolding before the eyes of those present, the least they could do in their pity for the already dead man was to place both hands on their head with repeated chants similar to the chattering of a duck about to eat. Those who couldn’t take it cried bitterly for him, for yes…..He was dead!
The passengers of the bus who were still recovering from the shock of their life welcomed calmly Sergent okoro whose Boots were brushed by the speedy tires and handed gently the bus keys to him. It is not their life that was at stake then, but that of their driver who had committed a capital offence- He almost hit an army officer but managed to destroy his means of livelihood- the sand bag! His Road Block! And His shelter! What a mess!
Eddie was among the heavy sympathizers. His wailing was heard the most. His fifteen years experience as a professional mourner came to play. Little did he know that his service that day would be magnanimously rewarded unlike what he do receive for even more exhausting and time consuming mourning outing.
Before long, Sergent Okoro had tested the claims of the passenger beside the driver that the break of the bus had failed few meters to the blockade. The claim was true but even gruesome. It had failed kilometers back. Oh! What a sigh of relief! That surely should be recorded as the happiest day in the life of the driver. Yes, our dear Oga Okoro was compassionately merciful. The driver won’t be punished for his crime of crushing the sacred edifice. In fact, he would even be rewarded for managing to park the bus nearby and fleeing far off. Although if not for the timely intercession of the elderly passengers, his fine of 5,000 would have been inflated to 20,000 as suggested by Officer Bitrus who sighted police biro and transport charges.
Here comes Eddie’s lucky day……..
He is no doubt the Minister of Works, Labour and Power. That day, he became the CBN Governor of that little republic. He was summoned and asked how much would be required to rebuild the wall of the castle. Instantly, the voice of his wife earlier that morning rang repeatedly with reverse speed of an India film music scene. ‘’you better come home with something better, or else the change agenda would be made manifest in this household. In fact, power would be given to other people’’. With quick alacrity he replied: ‘’Three thousand five hundred and thirty five naira’’.
Sharply, Officer Mufu retorted as a trained and experienced officer in the Quick Response Team; ‘’na two thousand eight hundred we go give you’’. Immediately Eddie protested against the cruelty and maintained his stance of collecting nothing less than Three thousand two hundred Naira for the contract.
Seeing that the fracas is becoming a disgrace to the officers in uniform, Sergeant Okoro ordered Three thousand five hundred to be the fee of the loyal contractor for work to begin on the site so that more money can easily come in.
The work began. The driver was punished slightly. The officers shared graciously the remaining income. But what happened afterwards? ……..Thats another story for another day.