I pledge to Nigeria my Country. To be faithful, loyal and honest. To serve Nigeria with all my strength. To defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory. So help me God.
The Nigerian National Pledge
I heave a sigh as I get out of bed. I go through the motions of getting ready for work. This is what being on autopilot must feel like. I make a mental note to alter my work out routine. I have already gotten too used to this one. Every day I wake up thinking about how much longer it would take me to repay my father’s debts. Truthfully, I would need approximately ten lives and ten lifetimes for each year my father served as the National Security Adviser. It had been horrible for my family back then. It still is. A lot of my father’s accomplices fled the country and have not looked back. Back then, everyone thought it would be business as usual, but they were wrong. The Elite Exodus happened and Nigerians would forever be grateful for it.
I arrive at work at 8.00pm. I have breakfast at work. It is always the same – Shortbread, black scalding coffee, and any two fruits. I have just thirty minutes for myself. Once it is nine, I have to hover round the President’s office till she is ready to move. She usually leaves the Villa by 10.00am, if she has to leave in the morning. I radio Jericho – the team immediately surrounding the President. The seven best men in the DSS are the closest security detail to the president. I take a look round my office. It used to be my father’s office. I find thoughts of him repulsive. He was a hypocrite. My family is just a bunch of thieving crooks, and unrepentant criminals. I am cursed with gluttonous parents and covetous siblings. We had the best of everything but it wasn’t enough. And me? I am the worst of all. Trips to and vacation on all the islands – name any one that I have not been to. The fast life, beautiful women, sycophants, parties, mansions, VIP lounges, five-star hotels, resorts – name it. If money could buy it, I had to have it. I bury my face in my palms. Why didn’t I see it? The false life, no sane man who really worked hard for his money would throw it away like that. We spent money like we breathed oxygen. We bought everything – houses, shopping malls, estates. After the Elite Exodus, after I had seen what people like my father and my family had done to the country, I had to come back home – to rebuild the ruins. I feel very responsible. My family is in Europe, living off my mother’s gold bracelets and pendants.
The sound of my name brings me back to the present. I speak into the radio. ‘Build the Walls in five.’ I get a response, ‘Jericho in five.’ My day has just started. I saunter into the President’s office.
‘Good morning, Zakari.’ She is as cheerful as usual. I ground my teeth. I should have gotten used to this. I ground out a grumpy, ‘Your Excellency.’ ‘I am stopping at the IBB Centre for a bit. That’s not on my itinerary. The Vice President’s mother had an episode yesterday so he won’t be able to represent me as earlier planned.’ I turn to leave. ‘Oh! I am still leaving by 10.00am.’ ‘Of course, Your Excellency.’
At the IBB Centre, the President is expected to spend just thirty minutes. That would mean eighteen, because we need exactly twelve minutes to get her in and out of there. Everything has to be perfectly timed. I can easily predict how everything will play out, but when we get to the IBB centre, I realise that there is a problem – the crowd. We didn’t expect a crowd. I totally forgot. The Vice President is a crowd puller – he used to be a Labour Congress President, you know the SUG type, those one who just had a way around people. So up until now, everybody was expecting Kosoko. I pull out my radio, ‘Thinning Walls, Eagle line of sight.’ It is a call for backup – Snipers particularly. I hope they send Burutu. As I return my radio, I know that I am too late. For the few seconds that I am distracted, a boy of about five has run towards the President. She picks him up, holding him towards the sky. I see it but I am not prepared for it. It is a narrow long bladed knife. The child plunges it into her shoulder. First time. Second time. Third time. Fourth time. Fifth time. Everything is still and quiet. I will myself to swing into action. Then the president screams. She is not screaming because she is hurt. It is the child. A bullet drills a neat hole into his skull. I see the shooter dart into the crowd. Smart move. We can’t use firearms. Jericho can’t leave the President. I give them the signal. I begin hot pursuit of the shooter. I am thinking, this may be the day I get to pay another chunk of my debt. If I perish, then so be it…