When Mr. Atta came for his campaign, the following weekend, the field was a quarter full. People trickled in to the field of the opposition party. Mr. Atta was a scholar par excellence. He had spent a considerable amount of his time in Europe. He desired to build his state – Nsaba State to the caliber of the cities in Europe. He knew that the state had enough resources to do this, but inept leadership and corruption were the barriers. The electorate had been fooled over and over. And they chose to be fooled again.
When people came to the field, they did not see all the fanfare that accompanied Kusunga’s campaign trail. All the freebies that were handed out during Kusunga’s rally, were not present. Not even free food and drinks. The people considered him a joker. They simply kissed their teeth and walked away. His message was simple. Every time you take a gift from the political elite, you are selling away your future. Every time you take money from the elite you are selling your power of demanding for accountability. Every time you eat free food and drink free booze, you simply have sold your life away and the lives of your children. People ignored him, he was accused of being stingy. He was accused of lacking the wherewithal to contest an election. He was called mismatch with Kusunga. But he argued with them that his quest, was about his people and not a fight between himself and Kusunga. “I am here to serve my people and not to steal from them” he announced. They made a mockery of him and he refused to be discouraged. However, he gave them a warning that in the future, they will remember the saying – “stolen funds being used to fund elections is why the state was not making progress. You have all been bought over. You cannot demand for accountability because you have eaten from the pot” Mr. Atta indicted them.
The general elections came and went. Chief Kususnga was declared the winner. There was great rejoicing in the land. Kusunga positioned his people in places of authority. They milked the state dry and started borrowing money from foreign countries. First it started as a joke. Then it was confirmed that the Chinese was giving a large chunk of loan to Nsaba state and the collateral was all the untapped bauxite in the state. Hairs raised and questions were asked.
Mr. Atta was right at his farm, planting and harvesting watermelons. He had relocated to his village and was living a quiet and serene life. He didn’t lack food. Customers were always streaming to his farm to buy farm produce. In the heat of the day, he was resting under the big mango tree in his farm when the elders of the land came visiting.
“Good day Mr. Atta.”
“Good day,” he responded.
“What a beautiful farm you have here.” “Thanks,” he responded. “Now cut off all this crap, what brings you here?” he asked sternly.
“Why are you angry with us?”
“Well you have never visited me, you have never said hello to me since the elections and here you are today at my farm. A toad does not hop about in the daylight without something chasing it.”
“Well we have come to visit you as an illustrious son of the soil, as someone who has the interest of our state at heart.”
“Won’t you at least welcome us the traditional way?”
Sitting on benches around the old mango tree, with a keg of palm wine and some garden egg, the opinion and community leaders broke bread.
“Have you not noticed the spate of corruption in the land?” Chief Idoma spoke.
“I hear the treasury is dry and the Chinese will soon take over all our bauxite industries.” Chief Efiat lamented.
“We are finished,” they dirged.
“Say something Mr. Atta.”
Mr. Atta picked his native cup and drank some more palm wine from it. He cleared his throat and asked, “what do you want me to say?”
“What must we do, wise one?”
“Very soon our god given resources will be completely taken over by foreigners” Chief Idoma wailed.
“We have shares and interests in our companies, what went wrong?” Mr. Utasi splurted.
“I hear that, the Chinese, when they take over your company they bring in their folks to inundate the place.”
“But what did they borrow this huge sums for and why have they not been repaying the money as was agreed?”
“If you guys don’t have anything better to discuss, I would like to adjourn this session as I have to go to my farm and do my afternoon rounds. But before I go to the farm, I will show you all the memorabilia.” He took them to a large room in his farm cottage and in this room were posters of his messages during the electioneering days. He asked them to read the texts and messages and when they were done, they should close the door of his study and leave his farm.”
The elders were in shock. They knew that Mr. Atta was done with them. All his messages and data were plastered all over the wall.
One stood out – ‘You accept a gift from a politician, you disempower yourself from demanding for accountability.’ Another poster read ‘They say I am stingy, it’s because I don’t have money to waste. I will not steal and I will not give what I don’t have.’ On the exit door, a large poster read ‘posterity will tell. We will see in the future.’
It was like being in a room of prophecies. It was a Deja vu experience. The memories of the mockeries they meted out to Mr. Atta because he couldn’t afford to bribe them came flooding to them. They knew that indeed they had mortgaged their future and the future of their unborn children. All the cars they drove were from the governor. Where did he get the money to fund those big cars? All the brown envelopes they were given at the end of every month and during festivities, where did it come from? All the big feasts the governor held for them every now and then, where did he get the money from? Within a year of taking over power as the governor of the state, he had built ultra modern architectural edifices for himself in different cities in the country, where did he get the money from. His wife and children were constantly travelling abroad on first class tickets. His children were schooling in Europe and the US. How did he fund these endeavours? His associates and government officials lived large, funding an exorbitant lifestyle with numerous girlfriends. The common man suffered. The commoners went to the elders of the land to ask- why this suffering? The elders could not demand for accountability because they were part of the mess. Anytime a people refuse to question evil acts, they pay for it dearly and this is the price they have to pay. The Chinese invasion of Nsaba State.
Uwem Mbot Umana©2020