- 1.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (I)
- 2.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (II)
- 3.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (III)
- 4.Mechanics of Yenagoa (IV)
- 5.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (V)
- 6.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (VI)
- 7.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (VII)
- 8.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (VIII)
- 9.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (IX)
- 10.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (X)
- 11.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XI)
- 12.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XII)
- 13.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XIII)
- 14.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XIV)
- 15.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XV)
- 16.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XVI)
- 17.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XVII)
- 18.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XVIII)
- 19.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XIX)
- 20.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XX)
- 21.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – I
- 22.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – II
- 23.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – III
- 24.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – IV
- 25.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – VI
- 26.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – VIII
- 27.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – IX
- 28.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – X
- 29.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XI
- 30.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XII
- 31.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XIII
- 32.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XIV
- 33.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XV
- 34.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XVI
- 35.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (Season 2) – XVII
The parking lot at Matho Crystal Hotel was filled to overflowing with every make of SUV and luxury car imaginable, and I found that surprising because it was a weekday and still early in the day. Hotels are typically slow before lunchtime, unless of course there was a major conference going on nearby or it was the venue for a big government or social event. As I approached the gate to the hotel, one of the security men signalled to me from the gatehouse that there was no space for the rickety Kia Cerato in which I drove there.
Matho Crystal was like a car shop and a military base rolled into one because of the number of people milling around its grounds when I arrived. Everywhere I turned, there were men in army, air force, navy and police camouflage uniforms. Besides the menacing-looking soldiers and policemen, there were all sorts of people inside and outside the hotel building, and there was no prize for guessing whom they were all there for.
I was lucky to have been at the gate just as an unmarked army green coaster bus with tinted windows was pulling out of the car park. So, I deftly manoeuvred my car into the premises and grabbed the vacant spot it left before anyone else could beat me to it.
Apparently, the Minister had taken up the entire first and second floors of the hotel because of the large entourage he travelled with and the number of people that were on appointment to see him. Fortunately, I was on the list of those on appointment, so I was allowed into the lobby to wait my turn.
That wait lasted for five hours, five whole hours of waiting to see the Honourable Minister of State for Defence, Aaron Barnabas-Treatment. Seeing the number of people that got there before I did made me wonder what the urgency in the summons by Mr. Freedom was all about. But that was all I could do – wonder. I dared not interrogate him or leave the hotel, even though my phone buzzed nonstop from the guys at the workshop and customers trying to reach me about their cars.
Out of respect for the environment I found myself, and the calibre of people waiting with me, I decided against responding to any of the calls, including that of Oputi who must have called me like twenty times.
Not that I was avoiding her or that I was ashamed of my line of work, but in that instant, it just didn’t feel right discussing brain boxes, back axles and a botched date when every other person waiting in the hotel lobby with me was either talking about contracts and proposals or making international calls to business partners over deals that ran into hundreds of millions of dollars.
To say the least, I was intimidated because amongst those waiting to see ABT were notable politicians from Bayelsa, traditional rulers, opinion shapers and some very pretty girls in very revealing dresses. I wasn’t quite sure if his aides were calling people in based on time of arrival or what the order of protocol was, but it seemed like the girls were given priority over everyone else waiting in the lounge. And I noticed that the more revealing the dress a girl was wearing, the quicker they were ushered up to see the minister.
“Oya, Ebinimi make you enter inside, Honourable go see you now.” Mr. Freedom’s voice woke me up from what I think was a nice dream involving me and one of the girls. I didn’t know how long I slept, but considering the night I had with Blessing, the rest was truly refreshing and deserving.
“Na my turn?”
“Yes, na your turn to see am. Just follow the stairs to the second floor. When you get there, you’ll see a policeman standing in front of room 204. Tell him you are next to see the boss man.”
I thanked Mr. Freedom and made my way to the staircase. I was surprised to see that ABT hadn’t changed a bit since the last time I saw him. Though he wasn’t looking as relaxed or as friendly as he did when I was first introduced to him, he still looked youthful, maybe even boyish in a garish way because of the bedazzled Fendi t-shirt and sweat pants with matching shiny slides he wore.
His dressing made him look more like a showbiz promoter than a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and it was hard for me to accept that the simple and unassuming guy before me was the reason the hotel looked like it was under siege and why all the big men downstairs were rehearsing their pitch and muttering silent prayers to themselves intermittently as if they were meeting with God.
I respected ABT because the moment you were in front of him, you forgot how rich and powerful he was. He didn’t have airs, and maybe he was dressed so casually because he was home in Yenagoa for the Christmas and not attending a meeting of the Federal Executive Council in Abuja.
“Doo sir,” I greeted him in Ijaw.
“Ebinimi, how you dey? I don tell you make you come work with me for Abuja, you no gree.”
“Honourable, no be like that oh,” I didn’t know if he was serious or just pulling my legs so I did like Mr. Freedom told me to do whenever I found myself in the wrong side of Honourable Aaron Barnabas-Treatment. “You know say na you be my boss for life. I dey at your service any day, any time sir.”
“See this boy oh,” he said, in the sluggish way he spoke. “Why you come dey kneel down for me again? Please sit,” he said, pointing to the chair opposite him. “I have something I want to discuss with you. I think you are the best person for the job.”
I put on my best poker face so he wouldn’t know how troubled I was at what he just said. The last time we had a similar conversation, my best friend was jailed, my most reliable worker tried to blackmail me and I almost lost my life.
“Sir, please don’t be angry oh, but will there be guns involved this time.”
“Ebinimi, I am the Minister of Defence. There’s no shortage of people to carry guns for me if that is what I want.” I didn’t know if it was an admonition or said to make me feel at ease, but I apologised all the same for my impulsiveness.
“Just let me know what you want me to do for you sir and I will do – ”
“I will be returning to Abuja tomorrow, but I hope to be back next week,” Honourable Aaron brushed aside my apology and continued as if I hadn’t even spoken. “You know us politicians, we like to remain relevant and do things that will keep us in the news all the time and give people the impression that we are loved and that we have plenty supporters. So, I want you to arrange a gathering of people that will receive me at Tombia roundabout on my way from the airport next week.”
His request, or should I say directive, caught me off-guard. “But sir, I am not a politician and I do not belong to any youth or political group,” I said in protest, but it seemed his mind was made up.
“I know. That is why I think you are perfect for the assignment. You see, Ebinimi, I am already looking at the future, and I want Bayelsans to begin to see me as a man of the people. I don’t want the usual rented crowd of women and youth groups that will come and dance for me today and tomorrow they will just change wrapper and polo and go and dance for my opponents. I don’t want the welcome party to look procured or contrived, that is why I want fresh faces, real people.”
“But honourable, where will I get these fresh faces from? I may know one or two people, but not enough to form the kind of crowd you have in mind.”
“Ebinimi, use your brain. Are you not a mechanic? Don’t you have an association of mechanics and other artisans in Yenagoa again?”
“Oga, we get – ”
“Or you don’t know keke riders that bring their tricycles to you for maintenance and even some of the people you buy parts from?”
“I do – ”
“Those are the kind of people I want to come and welcome me next week when I arrive and I know you can arrange it for me. You have handled more serious responsibilities for me in the past and you did not fail me.”
“And I will not fail you now, sir. I go try my best. When I leave here now, I go talk to some people when I sabi for Yenagoa. I promise you sir, I no go let you down.”
“I could have asked my people here to do the arrangement for me, but from experience they will just pocket the money, gather a few bad boys and come and tell me story. Ebinimi, I don tire for these fraudsters wen dey call themselves my political advisers. All they want is money, but you are different. You are trustworthy, that is why I want you to handle this one for me personally.”
“Honourable, I have heard everything you said and I will get to work immediately.”
Barnabas-Treatment shifted in his chair and looked at his phone, signalling the end of our conversation. So I stood up to take my leave, but it seemed the minister wasn’t quite done with me yet.
“Ebinimi, you will be needing some money to pull this off,” ABT scribbled something at the back of his call card and handed it over to me. “Give this to Freedom on your way out. He will transfer two million to your account today for logistics and another N250k when the task is completed. I want a mammoth crowd.”
The alert came in just as I drove into the compound on Kalakala street. I saw N2m in my account and went crazy.
“BRD, Saka, Biodun, make una come oh!” I jumped out of the car screaming at the top of my voice, not minding that there were other people besides them in the workshop. “Guys! Guys! Make una come oh! I don hammer, I don make am.”
Their questions came at the same time and I didn’t know which to answer first. I couldn’t wait to tell them about this great opportunity opening up for me so I yelled for them to join me inside the main house. I couldn’t give them the details of what transpired between the honourable and I right there in the workshop. We needed to talk in the privacy of my room and away from the nosy customers that were already asking to know the cause of my excitement.
I think it was my exuberance and their curiosity that stopped Saka and the others from warning me, because when I entered the house, Ebiakpo, Blessing and Oputi were on the dining table eating and laughing out loud together like old friends, and it freaked me out.
I don’t know how best to put this, but you see, my sister, my girlfriend and the girl I want to sleep with so badly cannot become friends. They must never form a sisterhood.
But that wasn’t even what worried me the most. It was what Blessing said when she joined me in the room immediately Saka, Biodun and BRD left.
“Ebinimi, dis one wen you dey happy so, it can only mean one thing, money is coming. So, make I just tell you now before I hear say the money don finish, my rent for shop dey expire dis month end and I want to move to a bigger place. I been also forget to tell you when I dey comot this morning say I dey go Lagos tomorrow to go buy some things for my shop. As e be say you don hammer, abeg make you try support my trip too. God go continue to bless you for me.”
I don’t know how she does it, but that girl, she just knows and shows up whenever I have money.