(Aso Rock, 3am)

‘Get up! You are too weak and lazy.’

‘Madam, it’s 3am! I deserve respect and privacy.’

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‘My reputation is in tatters. I bought just 200 cars for first ladies. I named just a street after me. I humbled myself to be a permanent secretary. The media went after me as if I am an armed robber. My media assistant is here sleeping peacefully telling me he deserve respect and privacy.’

‘Madam, I issued strongly-worded press statements grounded in combative ratiocinations and intelligent historical jujitsu.’

‘Shut up. The SSS told me Edidi lane home videos is what you watch all day in office.’

‘I was mapping out president’s media strategy. Oga said…’

‘I am the only Oga of the villa. The rock in Aso Rock. Don’t you dare challenge this patient daughter of lightning who impatiently uses thunder to patiently shave the beards of her enemies. Annoyed with an Ufon tree, I impatiently ordered the whole Ufon forest to be cut down to the last root. Annoyed with Gengeno river, I impatiently asked it to dry up with immediate effect. I wear the trousers in Abuja my husband tie the wrapper. I brought you here to work for me not him.’

‘Kabiyesi ma o!’

‘Good boy. But I want a man of courage, a raging bull charging at my media enemies. Your own newspaper wrote scathing editorial against me. I hired you so that things like this will never come from your end forever.’

‘There is nothing I could do ma. That is how the media works.’

‘Shuuuu? What can’t money do in Nigeria. Tell me? Invite all these disgruntled Lagos editors to Abuja every week. I have told you I have an unlimited access to the Central Bank right from my bedroom.’

‘The editors will use Bola Ige theory for you.’

‘Bola Ige? I thought he was dead.’

‘His ideal lives. Bola Ige urged people to trouser bribes from politicians because it is public money anyway but they should still do the right thing not what the politicians want. The editors being Nigerians too will come and enjoy Abuja, go back and still publish damnations against you.’

‘After taking my money?!’

‘Yes ma.’

‘I’ll have to contact Pastor Rogers and turn him back to Sergeant Rogers.’

‘Even during Abacha’s regime, 1000 Chukwumerijes, Ofonagoros, Almustaphas couldn’t suppress the media. With pervasive assassinations and bribes, the media remained unshaken. Without it, you wouldn’t be here today as First Lady. The Nigerian media is one of the strongest in the world.’

‘Good, that is why we must bend it for my interests. It is possible. When I consulted round the country about hiring you as my media assistant, people said it is impossible; that you are a principled and honourable man; that presidents and governors have tried to get you before, you strongly said never. I laughed and told them I am Lady Gbakagbaka , the Oyigiyigi daughter who makes the impossible very easy. See? Here you are today in the office and home I provided. So don’t tell me I cannot put the media too in my pocket.’

‘But…’

‘Don’t but me I am not a patient woman. Be courageous. Like my husband who says he cannot sign this oil licence, he cannot sign that cheque. I tell him, man up and sign. Make these figures heroes by adding more zeroes like the children of a fertile mother who doesn’t care about family planning and sign. I serve a God of billions not mere millions. Even before we were married, when other young men in the village went hunting carrying powerful guns, he carried a mere catapult because he lacked courage. During the village mating festival, he carried chairs for his mates instead of joining them to wrestle for the most beautiful girl in the village. That’s why they called him Egomugomu the village laughing stock.’

‘ Yes ma.’

‘Don’t yes ma me. Go out there and defend me. Tell Nigeria I bought 200 cars not 2000. I named only a street in Abuja after me not a whole state which I can do. In Britain the name of the queen is everywhere: schools, hospitals, roads, stamps, notes. That is why that country is great. I want Nigeria to be great too.’

‘Yes ma.’

‘Let me tell you a secret. Hope you don’t mind me sitting close to you since its 3am.’

‘Yes ma.’

‘Good. I was 25 years old when Nigeria’s first First Lady Maryam Babangida came to our village in 1985 with her Better Life for Rural Women programme. She arrived in a convoy of 37 cars, 11 media vans and 3 army trucks to commission just one borehole. Never mind the borehole broke down a week later, but a woman with 51 vehicles to spend on a village trip? I became inspired to be the First Lady at all cost. Then I remembered ah, to be a First lady you need a devoted husband. But I was a strong woman, as you know men do not like to move near strong women. So I remembered Egomugomu who was so weak that women did not like to move near him. I marched to his house and kicked opened his front door. Dressed in a woman’s wrapper, he was there playing with a big teddy bear. I said Egomugomu you shall no longer be called the village laughing stock, you shall be called man of good luck since you now have a very beautiful woman as your darling wife. And he said yes ma. Thank you ma. So I snatched the teddy bear from him, tied it to his head and march both of them down to my house. Since then I’d called him man of good luck. Yes! So if the journalists ask you who is wearing the trousers in the Villa, you know how to answer?’

‘Yes ma.’

‘Good boy. I hope to inspire every Nigerian woman.’

‘Yes ma.’

‘How I wish the media supports me not condemn me, Nigeria would have been a paradise. Some time ago while the president was for months in the deep freezer in Saudi Arabia, I walked my husband in the middle of the night from the vice president’s lodge to the Office of the president the way Mr D. Lucifer took Jesus to the parapet of the temple to show him some nice advertisements and offer him some good ideas. I said this Office is yours take it now. I grabbed his hand like this and caressed the presidential chair. I said it is very soft for you, kiss it, squeeze it. I guided his hand to the presidential table. I said, it very hard, use it. I love it. Nigerians too would love it. Do it. But he started crying it is immoral, someone was still there. I said no, the person is already in the Saudi refrigerator. Grab this thing before it’s too late. But he wasn’t courageous enough.’

‘Em, em, it is good to have courage.’

‘Yes. Yes. So?’

‘Em, em…’

‘You know what? I think you are too clean and decent for Abuja. Certainly, you wouldn’t brave to fight my media enemies. Goodnight and goodbye.’

‘But…..’

‘So this is what my distinguished career has come to? Madam coming nicodemously in the middle of the night to harass me as if I am Joseph in the Portiphar’s household ? My job is no longer safe. But why do I find it difficult to quit? As a columnist, I lampooned public servants lacking the will to resign instead of awaiting disgrace. I staked my reputation to defend obvious lies, self-evident ineptitude and government idiocies. How can I talk with my head high when various students associations invited me again to lecture them about what the youth can do to save this nation? It is a pity that I have joined the graveyard of once principled Nigerians. ‘O mother Earth, unbind me,’ Poet Okigbo cried, ‘let this be my last testament; let this be the ram’s hidden wish to the sword, the sword’s secret prayer to the scabbard.’ I used to be that sword but now I am clearly Egomugomu the Lagos laughing stock. Yes.’

Damola Awoyokun lives in London.