The Long Trek to Politics

By: Nnamdi Maduabuchi


“Wow! I didn’t know you wanted to run for a political position. Why are you just telling me now?”

“Well Tolu, the truth is that it was just yesterday that the thought occurred to me. I feel like being a politician would fit me very well. Like can you imagine me, as a politician? Omo, e for make na. Me, I’m just waiting for election time to come, I go show all of them.”

Tolu shook his head in disappointment. “Chai. This boy. Is this how you want to do your politics? All your competitors already have a headstart.”

“What do you mean by that? Electioneering period never start.”

Tolu pointed to the floor, drawing attention to the pieces of paper that had been pasted around. ‘Kehinde welcomes you back,’ one read, ‘And hopes the House is always SECure.’

“That guy understands what’s happening,” Tolu said. “See, this politics thing is a game. If you want to succeed, you have to play the game. If you were running for House Secretary now, this guy for don overtake you finish.”

“Ah, but this one, no be campaign already?”

Tolu merely scoffed. “If you like don’t wake up to reality. Keep sleeping and see if you’ll actually win anybody’s vote. What he’s doing is not campaign, it’s just creating awareness. He’s just letting people know that he is running for a post, shey you grab? Don’t worry, we’ll start our own campaign this evening. Which post you dey run for?”

“I don’t know. Maybe one of those small posts like PRO, or AGS. Something for me to put on my résumé when I want to start going for a bigger position. You know me I’m just starting.”

They made their way past the SUB car park, and headed for Zik hall, stopping a young man in a green shirt.

“My chairman, I hail oh,” Tolu began, raising his hands and giving a slight bow in mock salute. “How you dey na? How far school?”

“omo, I just dey survive,” Green-shirt replied.

“Normal things, normal things. Everybody for this school dey survive.” A small laughter of agreement emerged from the young man. Tolu continued. “Anyway, my boss, my name na Tolu. And this my friend ere dey run for,” he paused a moment to consider it, “PRO. I just wanted to know if we could count on you on that day?”

Green-shirt laughed nervously. “I’m not really sure ab—”

“You’re not sure?” Tolu cut in. “Why aren’t you sure? This my guy, he is very capable oh! Very capable. Don’t you stay in Zik?”

“I do,” he replied, “But—”

“So you’re even a Zikite.” Tolu laughed. “My guy too is a Zikite. He’s your brother. We Zikites, we have to stick together and showcase that spirit of oneness. Zikism means brotherhood, I hope you haven’t forgotten. So you’ll vote him for PRO, right?”

Green-shirt seemed eager to leave, but it must have escaped Tolu and his companion. He nodded and Tolu, smiling to himself finally let him go.

The next person they met was not so friendly. “No oh! I’m not voting for him. Tayo has already met me first, so it’s him I’ll vote for.”

“Chai,” Tolu complained after the person had left. “You see what I was talking about? If you don’t start early, you’ll be at a disadvantage.”

“Are you sure I won’t get disqualified from the elections for this?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Tolu gave a chuckle. “Some people have already endorsed their candidates, and nothing has been done to them. It was even reported by one press like that.”

For the remainder of the evening, until daylight began to fade, they walked around talking to people and creating awareness. Then as the last vestiges of sunlight finally disappeared, conversation between them was struck up again.

“Tolu, this work… It’s not an easy one. Are you sure we’ll be able to reach enough people like this?”

Tolu laughed again. “I’m just doing this one so you can have an idea of what to do next time. What’s the point of doing all this work when you have free slaves everywhere.”

With that, he stopped someone on the road, a young man of average build who was sporting glasses.

“You’re in hundred level, shey?” Tolu asked Young Glasses, to which Young Glasses nodded in reply. “Wouldn’t you like to run for a position next year?”

Young Glasses thought a while and nodded very enthusiastically. Tolu continued, “See, I want you to go around and help me get people to vote for this my friend here. Just go and talk to all those your friends. Don’t worry, if you do this for me, next year, I will also help you run, you’ll have my backing. I’ll introduce you to all the people you need to know.”

Young Glasses smiled widely, and immediately he opened his mouth and began to shout. “This is him! This is our guy for PRO. Vote him for PRO.”

Young Glasses left them, shouting all the way. “If we get a few of them like this, most of the work would be done by them.” Tolu laughed.

“But how would we convince them to help us? We have already promised one we would help him to run for the position next year.”

“We’ll just promise all of them the same thing. After all, this is the game of politics, they have to learn to look out for their own interests,” Tolu replied, “It is a lesson they won’t ever forget. So we have actually helped them in their political journey.”

“Omo, Tolu, me I don tire. Make I go room go rest.”

“Ha!” Tolu exclaimed. “Wetin this one dey talk? Don’t you know that there are people inside this Zik Hall who are sleeping peacefully? They haven’t heard of the good news of your campaign. We have to go and let them know. Knock on their doors and talk to them.

“Then we’ll have to go around and post your flyers. The student politician never sleeps. There is always work to be done in the process of ensuring that you remain ahead of your competition. One moment of dulling, and that’s it you’ve lost. These are the sacrifices you have to make.”

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