The news moved from one door to the next, traveling through the rows of haphazardly arranged houses  in downtown Ajegunle, till it turned and made its way back up the gossip channel to classier end of Babariba Street where it had started.

Dogoro Bai is dead!

Inspector Sina stood over the still body of the local government chairman and ward leader of the Independent People’s Party, trying his best to filter out what the people around him were saying, picking up a thing or two as he spoke to a man who claimed he had seen Dogoro step out of his house and fall. So far it looked like Mr Bai had simply slumped; other eye witness accounts already confirmed as much. This gave him some comfort and he said a silent prayer of thanks. Death by natural causes was always a welcome development in this area; it meant no fighting, no retaliation on rival parties.

He had known Dogoro Bai well, and as far as the slimy profession of politicking went Dogoro had been one of the cleaner versions of slime. He had actually spent some measure of time fighting for the people of his ward. He had created a neighbourhood watch in every street, albeit made up of his thugs, but involving them in the protection of their streets had actually brought the crime rates down. Dogoro had also forced the state government to create a small sports centre for the ward, not without the usual blackmailing, arm twisting, and palm greasing that went on when such deals were struck, but at least the children had a place to enhance their talents instead of joining one of the gangs on the streets. Of course the project had lined Dogoro’s coat pockets quite nicely, too nicely it would seem since the news was filled with statements of the financial crimes commission opening an investigation into the man. Maybe the pressure had killed him. Still, the man had sha worked.

Anytime he saw Dogoro in his luxurious Lexus Jeep that was way too flashy to have been afforded on his public servant salary he would shout, “Chairman, na you oh.

And Bai would respond, “Oga Inspector, come join my side oh.”  A haphazard invitation into politics to which he would reply, “no be my type den dey find oh.

And then Dogoro Bai would point at him and say, “You know I can do anything. One day one day I will make you join my side.”

There had been no shortage of such invites from Dogoro that it had become their ritual.

Inspector Sina’s grimace deepened into a scowl as his eyes caught the news vans beginning to line the street. The reporters wasted no time in jumping into the crowd to gather whatever scraps the masses could throw at them: truth, lie, hyperbolic tales of how Dogoro Bai’s eyes had rolled to the back of his head before he collapsed. He was close enough to hear that one and rolled his own eyes in return.

“Inspector,” he heard a reporter call him and turned to face a tiny woman from Channel 7. She looked familiar. Maybe she was the one on at 7:30 every night; he could never remember any of their names, not that he cared to.

“Do we know the cause of the Chairman’s death?” she asked, waving her recorder in his face like a weapon. It might as well have been. She had probably ruined many a life with the tiny black thing. One of her kind had certainly ruined Oga Tafa who had so innocently granted an interview with Channel 7 once upon a time.

A little girl had gone missing, and the masses were calling for the heads of the police who should have found her after ten days. Oga Tafa had a policy of not talking about open investigations, but when policemen started getting beaten in the streets the offer from Channel 7 to tell the story of their efforts had been nothing short of a miracle. And so he had accepted the miracle only to find it a Trojan horse of ambush questioning that coloured the department weak and lazy. One day he had been Captain Tafa of the Ajegunle Police Department and the next he was Oga Tafa, the night guard for Zenith Bank, Ajegunle. All of that and the girl was never found. He had learnt not to trust reporters after that.

“Madam, please step back,” he said, gesturing with his hand, trying to sound stern and not as tired as he truly felt from policing this crazy place.

Unfazed, the tiny woman pressed on, “was Chairman Bai killed? Who is going to replace him?”

The second question stopped Inspector Sina in his tracks, taking away whatever comfort he had felt moments before. He hadn’t thought about it, the real implications of this death.

Dogoro Bai was dead, and this meant an election.

The last election had seen their streets run red with blood, literally. Spates of fighting erupted when one side bad-mouthed the candidate of another.  Sometimes they erupted for no reason at all. And every time it is was left to him and his men to clean up the carnage and lock up a new set of offenders for the night. On one of those crazy days, he locked up one of Dogoro’s top thugs, Scorpio: a tiny wispy thing of a man with a voice so deep and rough it was a sharp contrast to his tiny frame. Scorpio did not look like the kind of man that could run a gang, but apparently he ran his with an iron fist. Inspector Sina spent nearly three hours preaching to Scorpio and the other thugs all the flaws of their candidates.

“All of them na the same,” he had said over and over to them that day. On the next day he had arrested nearly all of them again.

“Will you run?”

The question was unexpected, as unexpected as if he were to suddenly grow three feet shorter. He looked at the tiny woman with her rimmed glasses, her recorder stretched out to him.

“Ma?” he said.

“Are you going to run? Are you going to replace Mr Bai?”

The question had caught the attention of other newsmen around and suddenly the TV screens showing the live broadcast had him standing over a dead man, being asked whether or not he was going to take the man’s seat as Chairman. A flood of questions came from the army of reporters. The onlookers stared intently at him appearing to want an answer as well. Did they really expect him to answer that question over Dogoro’s dead body?

Suddenly, shouts went up from some of the thugs he had locked up a few times.

“Oga Inspector!”

Some raised their hands up the sides of their heads in salute while others went on the floor to prostrate.

Na you be candidate,” the unmistakable guttural voice of Scorpio said. He caught Scorpio’s wink just as his followers followed suit and chanted back, “Oga Inspector na candidate.”

The thugs got more people to start chanting, and before Inspector Sina could say a thing a quarter of the crowd was singing, “Inspector Sina na candidate.”

The shock of what was unfolding kept him frozen in place so he did not feel the pats on his back until someone said, “let us carry this man’s body.”

That night, Inspector Sina watched the twisted comedy of himself loading Dogoro Bai’s unmoving form into the ambulance while news cameras followed him and people around him shouted “candidate.”  He blamed the lady from Channel 7, she had started it. Nothing good ever came from talking to reporters, except in his case he had not even talked. He wanted none of it, but all the channels were already carrying news of him as the IPP candidate for local government chairman. Posters of him had magically appeared within hours, and campaigns had started to run on the radio. He was not even a registered party member!

As he flipped from channel to channel, trying to understand how this had happened, a knock sounded on his door. He opened it and jumped back in fright at the smiling face.

“Dogoro.” he shouted in disbelief.

Dogoro Bai let himself into Inspector Sina’s house and promptly closed the door.

“You’re dead; you’re supposed to be dead.” Inspector Sina cried.

Dogoro laughed. “Not dead, I just found a very creative way to retire. You think I will now let those FCC guys come and take my money.”

“But how? Why?” Inspector Sina asked, his eyes darting back and forth from Dogoro’s face to the coverage of him carrying the body with the other policemen.

Dogoro smiled. “I needed someone to take over. Besides, remember I told you, I can do anything.”

The End

***

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15 thoughts on “The Candidate

  1. Hahahaha. This writer is as cunning as Dogori Bai. Ah. To just go and hide away and eat his money in peace. Splendid.

    Nice one here, AJ. Well done.

  2. I came back to say that this is one of my favorite stories. I wish I could photocopy your brain. Awesome. 🙂

  3. See ehn, You guys should stop making it so damn difficult to vote.
    Some people should write cramp so we can vote easy.

    On a serious note I am enjoying this round.
    High quality stories from the writers, and I am learning a lot at the same time.

    Everyone is a winner here in my own view.
    And thst final twist, I sure didn’t see it coming sha.

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