Muma Buri rose from the bed, stretched and twitched his toes. He felt cranky, his knuckles ached and his knees felt like they would give way if he stood for too long. He sat down; at 72 he should be getting more rest; but he just couldn’t stand the thought of sleeping day and night while waiting for the day he would exchange mortality for immortality.
He switched on his television set and immediately regretted doing so; on the screen was a picture of himself, while a bald man raved on reminding the world of his failures to curb Alamu and his nationwide gang. Rumour had it that they were relatives of Anini. He had tried unsuccessfully to bring Alamu and his likes to justice, but had failed.
Alamu the robber had shaken the people of the south to their roots, he had stolen their money while they looked on helplessly, although some uttered occasional words of protest. Security agencies had gone after him but they all came back with nothing.
It wasn’t that Alamu and the others couldn’t be caught and jailed; but the man in charge of doing that couldn’t be bothered. For that reason, he had attempted to get appointed as the Main Security chief. Back then, between 2003 and 2010, he worked for the security outfit called Anti Nuisance and Perfect Policing (ANPP). Because of his performance, he had been tipped to be appointed as Main Security Chief of the country. He had tried to get the appointment in 2003, but was not employed. He tried again in 2007 and failed yet again. It was in 2010 that he discovered that some of his fellow officers in ANPP were corrupt and didn’t share the same ideals with him. He left in 2010 and along with some veterans like him, started the Corruption Pulling-down Caucus (CPC) and in no time at all, their effectiveness was noticed. The whole nation looked up to them and words once again circulated that he would become the new Main Security Chief. But in 2011, he failed yet again.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t qualified for the post, but when the Main Security Chief, Arimi Banjo completed his term, he had annointed someone else, Uma Yada to succeed him and had threatened to unleash mayhem to achieve that purpose. Unfortunately, Uma Yada had a terminal illness that made it impossible for him to complete his term. After his death, his inexperienced aide and right-hand man, Lucky Jo was asked to complete his term.
While completing his boss’ term, Lucky had worked assidously, he had warmed his way into the hearts of the powers that be, he had inspired the nation, he had explained that he was from the ghetto and had explained the sorry state of things; even he was almost fooled. When his boss’ term was completed, Lucky Jo was almost a shoo-in. Everyone loved him, they all agreed that he was the best person to take over as Main Security Chief; nobody remembered his inexperience and the fact that it could be a limiting factor.
When the committee sat to vote on who would be the New Security Chief, majority had gone for Lucky. When Lucky Jo was announced as the new Chief, he had wept; he could see beneath the humble facade Lucky put on and saw an extremely dangerous man. He had explained to those who cared to listen that inexperience and mediocrity were dangerous combinations for any man to possess and sadly, Lucky Jo had them in multiple folds.
As Muma Buri came out from the bathroom, he heard his phone ringing. The number was not familiar.
“Yes?” He said as he answered.
“Good morning Chief!” An excited husky voice chirped from the other side.
“Morning. Who is this?” He asked impatiently.
“Ola Binu is my name.” He paused as if to let it sink, then added, “Hope I didn’t wake you?”
Buri remembered the name. He was a chief of one of the top security outfits, Anti Corruption Network (ACN). He remembered him as an ambitious local champion. He was a pirate that didn’t just strike on the local scene but struck even on international waters. When Arimi Banjo was Main Security Chief, he had had a clash with him and won and for that he had always admired him. Anyone that could stand up to that Yoruba bully earned his admiration. But he just couldn’t imagine what Ola would want with him.
“Oh! Morning. You didn’t wake me.” He sniggered. I am a disciplined force man, unlike you bloody civilians, he thought.
“Let me go straight to the point here. I would like our security outfits to join forces so that we can present just one person in 2015 when Lucky Jo’s term will expire. We all know he will want to get his appointment renewed, individually, we can’t stop him, but if about three top security outfits come together, we can swing public opinion and sympathy in our favour.”
“Ok. If I understand you correctly, you want us to have a common front.”
“Yes, yes.” Ola replied enthusiastically.
Buri paused, rubbed his forehead nervously. “Ola, see I respect your politics and the fact that maybe you have a large followership in your area, and maybe I will come to respect your person, but I don’t see how an alliance between us could work. For one, you have so many corruption cases hanging around you. Even the person you tipped to be main security chief in 2011, Muri Badu, called you a criminal of international dimension before you drew him closer and did whatever you did to keep him quiet. I on the other hand have an impeccable character and a hard-earned reputation that I do not think I want to risk by coming into an alliance with you. But then…”
Ola interrupted, “Chief see, we all have pasts that we are not proud of. Even you, with your “impeccable character”, I am sure there are things you are not proud of.” He coughed, then continued, “Take for instance, while trying to prove to the committee that you are the best man to become Main Security Chief, after losing out on the appointment, you incited your officers to carry out a raid, do you know how many people were killed in that raid? Young lives cut short, shining suns forced to set at mid day, all these because you didn’t become the Main Security Chief. But Chief, I understand, there is no avoiding collateral damages in our quest to unsit Lucky Jo.”
Buri was quiet. He thought furiously. Ola thought he had hung up and said, “Hello, hello.”
He sighed, “I’m right here Ola. See, the only reason why I want to become the Main Security Chief is to end indiscipline, curb corruption and rid society of those found culpable. How am I supposed to do that if I come into alliance with you? You, the one the whole nation expects to be my first assignment if I become the Main Security Chief, what do I tell the world? What will they make of me and my incorruptible reputation?”
“Chief, like I said, we all have pasts we are not proud of. Just as you have misgivings about me, I could also tell you that I am scared that people who call you extremist and violent will label me same if we come into alliance. But I choose to ignore all that in the interest of our nation, and I encourage you to do the same. We can always use the money they said I stole to garner support for you and ‘settle’ the right quarters so that you can be appointed in 2015. That way, we will be giving the resources back to the people, then it can no longer be called theft if i have returned it to the people and use it to better their lives.”
“Wait, settle the right quarters? What does that even mean? Do you not know me and what I represent? By ‘settle’, you don’t mean bribe, do you?”
“See Oga, a wise man once said that the definition of foolishness is to continue drinking kulikuli and garri and expect to be as fat as the one who eats Turkey and Rice. You may…”
Buri winced. “I think the quote is that foolishness is doing the same thing and expecting different result.”
“Worefa! Chief, the main thing is that being a good person will not get you that post. We have to get dirty; and I have more than enough boys that are not afraid to get dirty. The end will justify the means. Imagine bringing Lucky Jo to his knees, imagine the opportunity to slap some sense into those psychopaths wreaking havoc in the North, what will you not do to achieve that? Who cares about the means when the end looks good?”
“Ola, you’ll have to let me consult with my officers in CPC, I will get back to you.”
“Ok Chief.” He hung up.
Four months later, Anti Nuisance and Perfect Policing (ANPP), Corruption Pulling-down Caucus (CPC) and Anti Corruption Network (ACN) became one under Alert Policing Coalition (APC). Within days, officers from other security outfits resigned to join the newly formed APC, even the ones Buri dissociated from because they shared different ideals and on suspicion of corruption. He continued to take it all quietly while the world started questioning the integrity he claimed to possess. But when the man who served as Arimi’s right hand man and deputy joined too, Buri had to speak up. He called Ola to a side and questioned him:
“See, I agreed to join forces because you sounded remorseful. But how do I convince the world that I am still the Buri they knew and that somewhere inside this body still exists a bit of the me they use to know when I have to sit at the same table with the likes of Riku Abu?”
“Chief, relax, these people speaking English now will thank you later.”
“So, who am I supposed to go after when I become Chief? On the list I compiled, you were number 1, when we spoke and I saw your remorse, I struck out your name. Former Main Security Chief, Arimi Banjo was second, but when we went to seek Arimi’s blessing and he finally assured me and the world of his support, I struck his out too. Riku is next on the list and I have to strike his name out too? What am I going to do then? How many names will I still strike out?”
“My Chief, the end will justify the means. What happens at the end of the road will justify how we got to the end of the road.”
6 months, leaner list and countless struck-out names later, Buri stopped at a prayer house to say his afternoon prayers. The Imam, oblivious of his presence, addressed the congregation on state of the nation.
“A security agent going to arrest Anini, is it possible for him to be transported to where Anini is by Anini’s gang members?”
“Noooooo!” The congregation responded.
“I have stolen a man’s properties, he is coming to kill me but doesn’t have money for flight, is it possible for me to pay his fare knowing fully well that he is coming for me?”
Again, a resounding “No” rent the air.
Somewhere at the back, a tall and lean man slipped out through the side door, put on his shoe, got into his car and barked at the driver to drive.