The siren blared continuously. To both sides were my body guards and behind me was my security orderly. It was my first day of assuming office as the Governor after a successful election. The gentlemen of the press had filled up the venue of my maiden Press Conference.
” Gentlemen of the Press may I welcome you all to the first public engagement of our Excellency the Executive Governor of our State,” the Master of Ceremony introduced me to the audience.
“Yeah . . . yeah . . . yeah,” came the noise from my political supporters. The voice of the poor masses rented the air with thunderous applause.
“Thank you, thank you” I muttered while waving my hands cheerfully.
” Your Excellency, Sir,” came the voice from one of the journalists, “you seem to be the only Executive Governor who is not married, how do you reconcile your position in our culture which sees an unmarried leader as irresponsible and an unserious person who may not know the pain of the electorates. What can you say about this?”
“Hmn . . . Hmm…” I was not prepared for this insult a direct assault on my first day in office and I managed to control my burning temper. “You see marriage is voluntary, but I agree with you that a public officer must be married and be seen to belong to the acceptable norms. Very soon you will be invited to the wedding ceremony”
” Is she going to be a First Lady with a portfolio?” came another question.
“Let’s wait till then,” I beamed a smile but inside me I was becoming very uncomfortable.
” There are some rumours going round that you intend to marry, the Chief’s daughter after you have dumped an undergraduate whose father had seen you through your education. Will your action be fair?”
“Added to that question, your Excellency, is it true that you have many girlfriends and that some of them may likely be appointed as commissioners in your administration?”
“I think you are getting most of the information wrong.” I attempted to parry the questions to avoid further hostile queries from those irritating journalists. “Appointments to my cabinet will be purely on merit, relevant qualifications and experience. Friendship is a relative term when you qualified it with the opposite sex. A lady who is neither my sister nor from my immediate family, is better qualified as a girlfriend.”
“Please sir how many intimate girlfriends do you have?”
“May I also ask you, how many platonic girlfriends were you told I have?”
There were agitations amongst my supporters and the journalists on the relevance of those questions.
” Please gentlemen of the Press, you should know that our Executive Governor will be commissioning some new projects today after paying a courtesy call to our traditional rulers.” The MC seemed to have rescued me. “So please let ask relevant questions on how to move our state forward.”
“You are about to commission new projects executed by your predecessor, why won’t you initiate yours…”
” The projects were awarded and executed by the Governor’s companies before he comes to power,” the MC interjected again sarcastically.
“Does it mean your companies will be undertaking all the state’s project henceforth?” Another mischievous journalist asked.
“Where is the Director for Publicity?” I whispered silently to the MC. I wonder if he did not see the journalists before the briefing.
“I don’t know sir!”
” Thank you, gentlemen of the Press,” I said through the microphone before me. “I will make my first public Address tonight. So I will recommend that you all tune in your radio and television set at the News Period. Thanks.”
I turned to the direction of my body guards who led me to my dark official car with tinted glasses. I waved at the public before I pushed myself in.
There were bottles of juice and wine in the limousine and state of the arts facilities including video, television and telephone sets. I was briefed that nobody could kill me while in the car, except atomic bombs because it was a bullet proof car.
“Take me round the city,” I instructed the driver.
For few hours I was moved round the city with the siren blaring and my outriders demonstrated their expertise in manipulating the motorcycles. I could see the old and young trooping out to salute their new leader. The pretty ladies were amongst the spectators. I could see some of the so-called girlfriends. I could not stop to talk to them before the prying eyes of the maddening penpushers in my convoy.
“Back to Government House!” I instructed angrily so that I could have the time to write my maiden speech for the State Broadcast
The office was full with commoners and contractors. I told my ADC I wouldn’t like to see anybody until after the broadcast. Within an hour I had accomplished the task of scripting my speech. My Study Room was arranged for the live broadcast.
After the microphone had been adjusted with some makeup on my face to make me look more presentable, I read my address:
“Fellow compatriots. I thank you all for voting me into this office and I must promise that non of you would be disappointed. I would like to be very brief in my maiden address. I will therefore declare as follows: No more contracts to local people who cannot compete with the developed world. No more beggars and hawkers on the streets who have become nuisances to the society. No more sensational headlines in the media. No more unnecessary gathering of people which may be the ganging to suppress our hard earned democracy. No more gratification for whatever purpose in the name of gifts, presents, more especially for journalists, civil servants and public officers.
“By next month I will get married and a public holiday will be declared for the wedding. To serve as leadership by example and minimise promiscuity, henceforth any unemployed person whether graduates or illiterate will be deployed to the farms immediately to help improve the neglected agricultural sector. All unmarried but eligible adults are hereby given three months by which they should get spouses or be prepared for mass marriage to be chaired by my First Lady after our wedding.
” The State House of Assembly will receive the bill on these new laws for immediate passages.”
Before I finished my address, I heard thunderous noise outside the State House. Before I could stand up, two hefty soldiers walked into the room and gave me dirty slaps. I fainted only to wake up and discovered that I was dreaming. I looked at the time, I was almost late for a lorry driver job interview I had applied for last week.
This literary fiction by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in Pen Newspaper on August 25, 1989