TWO WEEKS LATER
The posters of Timothy were everywhere, bigger and colorful than that of Bala. A gigantic bill board was built with his picture on it waving everyone as they passed it. It was planted by the entrance of the town. And that was Captain Nwanze’s handwork.
Bala was riding slowly on his motorcycle when a car sped pass him and marched its breaks in an abrupt manner in front of him, were he on top speed he would run into them.
Bala: “What barbarism is this?” he said covering his nose from the dust risen by the callous act and still recovering from its shock.
By the time the dust died down the faces in the car smirking at him; he knew the two of them. It was Captain Nwanze and Timothy, his opposition.
Captain Nwanze: “Hello, my man!” he wound down revealing his dark shades.
Bala shot an angry gaze at them,
“How you doing?”
Bala: “Nwanze, why don’t you guys leave me in peace and go about your own businesses?”
They were laughing at him as they got down from their car. It was four in the evening.
Captain Nwanze: “Tell me somebody is feeling the heat of his opposition already!” Timothy cackled.
Bala gaped at them,
Bala: “See I don’t have time for childish talks. I’ve got better things to do than to exchange words with losers!” he shot back.
They burst into cackling that somewhat annoyed him.
Timothy: “See who is calling us losers? “
Captain Nwanze leaned on the car and folded his arms,
Captain Nwanze: “Tell me,” he looked at Timothy and they smiled, “I mean tell us why you are fighting an already lost battle?”
Bala knew they were out to annoy him, he tried to keep his calm,
Bala” lost battle?” he laughed at them, “ I’m the people’s’ choice and not this pathetic one!” he pointed at Timothy laughing. Timothy couldn’t take the scorn as attempted to charge at him but Captain Nwanze held him back.
Captain Nwanze: “There’s no need for that!” turned to Bala, “So you think you’re the people’s choice right?” he smirked, “Let me educate you in Africa democracy isn’t about the peoples’ votes but one’s influence and connection and how many cash you’ve got man, “ he raised his right palm high, “ and you don’t have any of those!”
They laughed, Timothy laughing the loudest. That was very true Timothy’s campaign was like that of a senator in the capital. Droves of cars were used, exotic cars and that wasn’t because of Captain Nwanze’s influence but majorly because the richest men in the country were stakeholders of the party. Bala’s party was small one that operated on Marxist ideology where one’s integrity speaks more than earthly possession.
Bala: “There’s no point talking to you!” he tried starting his bike.
Captain Nwanze: “If you like your life you’d better step down!”
He stopped kicking and glared at them,
Bala: “You of all people should know better that it’s of no use threatening someone like me!”
He kicked his bike and zoomed off,
“Fools!” he shot at them.
Captain Nwanze and Timothy stared at him as he disappeared,
Captain Nwanze shook his head,
Captain Nwanze: “You’re playing with fire and fire would burn you to ashes. Let’s go!”
Bala,party members and supporters organized a rally. It was an open field very big but it was crowded,. The state party deputy chairman and other executives were present to give their undiluted support to Bala.
Deputy Chairman was handed the microphone and climbed on top of a truck, that was the improvised stage, the people gathered around it. Bala was neatly dressed in a brown Kaftan, he sat with the members of the executives as the deputy chairman addressed them,
Deputy Chairman: “ UDP!” he raised his hands high,
The people chorused, “ CHANGE for GOOD!”
He yelled again, “UDP!”
The replied, “ CHANGE for GOOD!”
“I said UDP!!!!!”
They answered, “CHANGE for GOOD!”
He beckoned on Bala to join him; Bala did smiling,
Deputy Chairman: “who is this?” he pointed at Bala.
The crowd cheered, “ Bala Bako! Our Choice!”
Bala was grinning so as the party executives,
Deputy Chairman: “I didn’t hear you!”
They yelled again, “Bala Bako! The people’s choice!”
The crowd comprised of the young, old, men,women and even children who stood afar and singing with Bala’s name.
The microphone was handed to Bala,
The crowd chorused, “CHANGE for GOOD!”
“CHANGE for GOOD!” they added.
Bala: “I’d like to re-emphasize that I’ll not disappoint you if I am voted or rather chosen to serve you as the first democratic chairman of Gurara Local government!”
“Yaaay!!!” the people cheered.
Bala: “I am not here to boast or brag but as I’d always say I promise to provide good education, health care and infrastructures!”
The people burst into a song for him making melodious sounds from gongs,drums and plates:
“Bala is the man,
The child who has washed his hands properly-dining with kings,
Bala the son of Bako,
Who has got my back o!
Who will wipe-out our tears?
Who will wipe off gloom for our faces-wretched?
Who will you vote for,mama?
Who will vote for,baba?
Who will you vote for,sister and aunty?
Who will you vote for, brother and uncle?
Bala the CHANGE for GOOD,
Who will give my son and daughter good, good education!
Who will provide good hospitals, roads and electricity for us?
Bala and everyone joined in the dance. The merriment was on when some gun men raided the place and fire shots in the air and the whole place became messy, chaos took over. Everyone scampered for safety. As the gun men fire shots at the deputy chairman injuring him and few others as they abducted Bala.
Bala was kept in a dark room for days without food and water after which he was beaten black and blue. He was blindfolded so he couldn’t see who his captives were but he knew Captain Nwanze was the brain behind it. He could recognize his voice; he heard one of their conversations with the men, who abducted him,
One them asked, “boss should we kill him,” he told them not to but they should care and threaten him.
After three days, they released him but before doing that they threatened him,
“When you get to Diko tell your party members you aren’t interested if you don’t step down you’re going to die!”
They dropped him off in a village mile from Diko. It was a good Samaritan that found him and helped him get back home.
Diko was thrown in merriment on the day he returned.
After his release, he hardly went out avoided party meetings and chased Kyauta away when she came to him pleading,
Bala: “I’ve told you I am not interested! Please, go and meet your lover the captain! Just leave me alone!” he yelled at her.
Captain Nwanze tried his best to see Kyauta but she refused the last time she saw him she warned him never to ever come close. Captain Nwanze was restless he was in love with her. He knelt down pleading,
Captain Nwanze: “Please,my love don’t do this to me! I need you and my kids!”
The mention of kids annoyed her; he made it seem like they were a couple,
Kyauta: “Pathetic man! I can’t believe the almighty Nwanze would kneel before me crying and begging for my love!” she said to Hauwa.
Hauwa laughing said,
Hauwa: “The man is in love aii! You’ve have his mumu button!” they laughed again.
Bala was busy writing a letter so he would send to the party’s state office telling them of his resignation;
It’s with utmost disappointment that I am writing to inform you of my desire to discontinue as the party’s candidate for the chairmanship position in Gurara local government.
He paused looking at the letter he was writing when Kauna ran into his room,
Bala: “What’s wrong?” she startled him.
Kauna : “Nothing. Baba said I should call you!”
He dropped his pen and went into his father’s room.
Bala: “Good evening, Baba, how are you?”
His father coughed and nodded,
Baba: “I’m fine oo! It’s just the cough!” he coughed again.
Bala: “Sorry, I’ll send Kauna to go get you syrup,” Baba nodded
Baba: “I called you because I’ve watched you for a while and there certain decisions you are taking or have taken that gives you a semblance with that of a child! What’s happening to you?”
Bala dropped down his head,
Bala: “Baba, I don’t understand!”
Baba: “I hear you want to step down from the election because of a mere threat you received!”
Bala glared his father. He was shocked that his father would make such submissions. Mere threat? The threat that almost cost him his life,
“Yes, I know you’re surprised that I’d say a thing like that. Do you know what it means for the people to choose you as their candidate? Do you think it’s an affair for kids? When you knew you couldn’t stand the pressure of the heat in the first place why did you lit the fire?”
Bala didn’t know what to say, “See we are the Bakos and we aren’t cowards. You’d better go and represent your people. We need you,” those words evoked tears in his eyes,” my blessings go with you my son. As far as you came from my loins no man can hurt you!”
Bala: “Thank you, father!” he felt an inner strength surge inside of him.
When he was about leaving his father added,
Baba: “And you’d better stop behaving like a child and go get back your girl. The girl has sacrificed a lot for you!”
Baba: “There’s no but. She loves you so much and she has sacrificed so much for you! Go and make up!”
Bala was angry with his father. He didn’t ask what she did, he thought. As he entered the room, he sat staring at the letter he was yet to finish and also, dwelling on what his father had said to him about Kyauta. He was at a cross road.
Do you think Bala would make with Kyauta? Should Bala heed to his Father’s advice and continue with the political race?
…. SEE final Episode, 21 Below (You don’t wanna miss this!)
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