(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, January 24, 2022)
The pride of lions lounge under the baobab. Some look at the sky belly-up in gratitude to nature. Some crouch on their warm, filled bellies, swishing their tails to the music of the wind and the shine of the sun.
Like fleeting ghosts, three monkeys, from nowhere, suddenly descended on the pride; giving a knock on the head here, a slap on the face there – in an unrehearsed choreographic raid that could’ve ended in instant death.
Jaws drop, breaths pause; before the eyelids could bat, the monkeys disappeared high up into the safety of the tree, laughing madly. All at once, the lions had sprung to their feet, ready to defend their den to the death, cursing when they realised it was the mocking monkeys again. One day monkey go go market, e no go return, the lions rued.
Now, the snarling lions watched intently as the monkeys jumped from one tree branch to the other, dangling dangerously from the tip of the dry branches. Suddenly, a twig snapped and a big monkey was in freefall. He grabbed another branch, but that also snapped, and death was waiting on the ground.
As powerful teeth dug into the jugular of the monkey, a fugitive policeman called Abba Kyarry jerks awake from sleep, holding his neck, shouting, “Lions! FBI lions! Mai Gaskiya, save me! Mai Gaskiya, kare ni daga hakorin zakin FBI!” He held his neck with both hands, shook it to be sure it was still on his head, feeling with his fingers to see if it was dripping blood. He was dripping sweat.
Kyarry’s wife, Hadjia, dashes into his room, switches on the light, and sees the wreck her husband had become. He looks like he just got out of the River Niger. She perceives a strange smell, like concentrated ammonia acid; Kyarry has urinated in bed.
Hadjia: (Breaks down crying) I thought Bala the Marabout said you won’t have nightmares again?
Kyarry: Yes, that was what he said. And he got millions of naira from me.
Hadjia: As Marabout Bala directed, did you pluck some of your eyelids and put them on your head to make the FBI forget your case?
Kyarry: I have pulled all my eyelids out. None is remaining there. Look, see. (He leans forward in bed to show his wife his face) I just had a bad dream in which I fell from a tree, and lions wearing FBI uniforms sank their teeth into my neck, that was why I shouted from my sleep.
Hadjia: I think you should call Marabout Bala. Maybe he would give you a potion to ward off the ceaseless FBI nightmare. Where’re your phones?
Kyarry: (Pointing to his wardrobe) They’re there in the pockets of my uniform.
Hadjia: (Brings out his phones together with some bales of dollars) Ha, mai gida?! Dollars again?
Kyarry: I’m sorry, Hadjia, I can’t resist the smell of dollars. It has become an obsession, but I resisted the naira bribe I was given today, I didn’t collect it.
(Hadjia dials Marabout Bala and gives the phone to Kyarry)
Marabout: Incoming Inspector General! How’re you?
Kyarry: I’m not fine o. Lions ate me up.
Marabout: Lions? Did you go to Yankari Games Reserve ne? I hope they didn’t eat your hands?
Kyarry: No, why did you ask if they ate my hands, marabout?
Marabout: How will you be receiving physical offerings if they ate your hands? You know, the hands and pockets are the policeman’s greatest assets.
Kyarry: What can I do for the FBI to forget me and to ward off my nightmares, Marabout Bala?
Marabout: I told you to pull out one or two of your eyelids and put them on your head everyday.
Kyarry: I’ve pulled out all my eyelids. I have none again. What do I do now, my blood pressure is reaching up to heaven? I’m tired of all this trauma, I’m ready to expose all the ogas I give returns to. I won’t go down alone, I swear!
Marabout: Stop swearing, you need to call Mai Gaskiya in Azoo-Roc. Tell him that I said your days are numbered because the FBI are closing in. Tell him I said he should allow you to come and live inside Azoo-Roc, otherwise, the Lions of FBI will eat you up soon.
Kyarry: (Clutches his phone and touches his neck gingerly) Don’t let them eat my neck, Marabout Bala. I’ll call Mai Gaskiya now now! Please, hold on. (He reaches for another customised phone and dials. A familiar voice comes through saying Mai Gaskiya was just finishing a bowl of tuwo shinkafa and miyan kuka, urging Kyarry to hold on.)
Mai Gaskiya: (Picking his teeth) My beloved son, how’re you? I hope you’ve not gone on social media again? Don’t go there again, you hear? Problems will not finish for Nigeria, Nigerians’ll shout and soon forget about your case. Also, don’t do cut and sew for people again.
Kyarry: Yes, sir! Mai Gaskiya, I’m in trouble, sir! Everyday, my conscience is troubling me, sir. I see scary things, sir. Today, FBI lions were about to eat me in my sleep…
Mai Gaskiya: But, are you not a supercop again? Was it not in nightclubs that you used to meet Hushpuppi and all those criminal celebrities? Don’t you listen to music in nightclubs?
Kyarry: Yes, I do, sir.
Mai Gaskiya: Don’t you hear that Zazoo boy that sings, ‘Kala, sanju pa, le ju pa, hu’wa ika, ma rerin…?’
Kyarry: (Chuckles) Ha, Mai Gaskiya, how did you know this song, sir?
Mai Gaskiya: So, you think it’s only you people that know how to enjoy? My children taught me the song, and I danced to it with them. I can dance Zazoo, Warisi, Zanku, Shakiti Bobo etc. Me, I don’t let anything bother me. Nowadays, when I’m making a decision, I remember Zazoo lyrics, ‘kala, sanju pa, le ju pa, wu’wa ika, ma rerin…meaning: ‘Frown, glare, scowl, be ruthless, don’t smile… ’ That’s how to lead Nigerians. Anyone who wants to become IG must be as hard as rock.
Kyarry: Yes, sir! Sir, my marabout said the dream I had is an indication that the FBI are around, that I may be abducted and flown to America for trial, sir. He said I should tell you to allow me to come live with you, sir.
Mai Gaskiya: Live with me? How’re you going to escape the prying eyes of those press boys?
Kyarry: I can come disguised like a female, sir.
Mai Gaskiya: You mean you’ll paint your eyes and lips like yarinya?
Kyarry: Yes, sir!
Mai Gaskiya: (Bursts into laughter) You this boy, you’re a criminal, walahi! This shows that truly you know how to catch criminals. You’ll be IG soon, insha Allah!
Kyarry: Thank you, sir.
Mai Gaskiya: Do you know why I didn’t extradite you to America?
Kyarry: No, sir.
Mai Gaskiya: Firstly, it’s because you’re nuts, no, I mean North. Secondly, because you’re our poster boy for integrity, anti-corruption and security.
Kyarry: Thank you, sir.
Mai Gaskiya: But how did you allow yourself to be caught so cheaply by the FBI?
Kyarry: It’s the work of the devil, sir?
Mai Gaskiya: Don’t tell me it’s the work of the devil. It’s the work of your greed and stupidity. Can’t you see the way I operate? Have you ever heard my name mentioned for corruption in this country?
Kyarry: No, sir.
Mai Gaskiya: Even the Jaguar of Borgu, and the Redim Pastor, that one that wears a cap and speaks like a saint; have you heard them indicted for any corruption allegations?
Kyarry: No, sir.
Mai Gaskiya: Toh, the secret is we all know how to chop, using other people’s hands. With what do you think I sent my children to universities abroad? Stones? You must learn to use other people’s hands. That’s the first law in the art of deceit.
Kyarry: Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!
Facebook: @tunde odesola