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A glorious bribe

2018-06-11 16:07:00
Summary :A glorious bribe
When people say that the June 12 crisis invested the country with fear, they are right. When they say, it immiserated Nigerians with hunger, they are also on the money. I am a personal testimony.On hunger, I had it. I lost my job like many others when the soldiers shut the gates of the Concord newspaper, Abiola’s publishing firm. Almost destitute, I headed to the market in Egbeda, Lagos State, to buy some meat for a pot of soup.At the meat section, I approached a seller, and I offered the little money left in my pocket for any slice of meat. I had not received a salary in close to a year.“Oga, this amount no fit buy any meat,” he said, irritated.I dipped my hands in the pocket and emptied it.“I no get any other money for my pocket or anywhere. Yesterday, I no eat meat. I no want die of kwashiorkor,” I pleaded with facetious exaggeration.But I looked at him, a little shamefacedly. I had struck him with my desperation. His contempt softened to affection. He flicked out his knife, and cut a huge chunk of beef on his slab, wrapped it in a green leaf. He looked up at me and handed me the piece of protein, bloodless and fatless.He rejected my money with magnanimous disdain and asked me to go and have a good meal. That moment and that day, the butcher was my June 12 hero. That was one of several such stories I recall of my suffering. I could not forget I had to trek several miles to draw a debt because I could not afford molue. I had to walk back, weary-legged and starving, because my debtor was not in the office. Several other stories. Many Nigerians lost their lives and livelihoods because the impunity and inanity of one man’s ambition had banished food from their tables.I also quaked with fear. I didn’t until one afternoon, in the early months of the June 12 crisis, Beko Ransome kuti and Femi Falana (SAN) had appeared at an Abuja court. After the session, I drove behind them curious where they were gaoled. A car zipped past me, someone inside wagging an ominous finger at me and warning me and asking me to return. A few days later, Abiola’s confidant, Olu Akerele, alerted me to two SSS cars that took turns trailing me about town. I was Concord’s managing editor in Abuja. I knew I had to leave town.When Buhari finally immortalised Abiola, I lamented the frailty of life. The last time I saw him, his whole being kindled like coal fire, his smile, his stride, his brio. He was in his political element challenging IBB. I had walked into the then Nicon Noga Hilton Hotel to see a news source. But when the elevator door creaked open, who was I to see but MKO himself, beneath his cap with its signature “puncture.” A security man behind him. I stepped back in deference.
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