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When I won the contract (Repeat 4x)
Yippee ya ya
Yippee yippee ya ya (Repeat 3x)
When I won the contract'
Sir Skido sang to himself as his driver manoeuvred his jumbo sized Mercedes Benz through the Lagos rush hour traffic.
The driver percussed the horn like a deaf one-handed drummer who had smoked tons of Igbo to the point where he was as high as the tallest palm tree in his village.
Many other drivers played with their horns; a favourite national past time. The unmarked roads were chaotic. The junctions had neither 'yellow fever' nor traffic lights. It was everyone for himself.
Sir Skido was unperturbed by the noise. His mind was miles away. The car's interior had such a relaxing effect on him. 'This car', he told his friends 'was like being in ones mother's womb'. It was that comfortable.
A young boy knocked on the window and smiles.
He displays a set of teeth which would embarrass the countries many dentists. Sir Skido hit the switch and the electric windows descended slowly.
'Chai, money good o!' he thought to himself.
'Ehen?' said Sir Skido.
'Spring water. Fresh spring water' the boy said displaying his bottles on a tray.
'How I know say no be tap water?' asked Sir Skido.
'True to God oga. Na spring water. If I dey lie, make…em…make…
'No swear for yourself because of water jo' said Sir Skido.
He brought our some notes from his glorious Agbada and thrust them on the little boys tray. He then picked six plastic bottles of water and awaited his change.
The traffic began to move.
'Oga make I go?' the driver asked.
'No' replied Sir Skido.
The horning from behind intensified.
The driver of the taxi behind drove up close with his hand fixed permanently on his screeching horn.
'Oppressor! Move now!' he shouted.
Sir Skido was not perturbed.
'Small boy, why are you not in school?' he asked.
'Oga teacher no dey. Them never salary them for two months ends now'. The boy said handing over the change.
As they drove off Sir Skido looked back at the boy.
'Sunday, so this boy is a leader of tomorrow eh?'
'Oga with no education and so much street sense I think he is on the right track to where we are headed o!' replied the Sunday.
A large crowd had gathered outside the giant prison gates brandishing placards of contrasting craftsmanship. As they drove past one particular placard caught Sir Skido's eye. It read- 'THE DEATH PENALTY IS INHUMANE'.
'Na you sabi ' muttered Sir Skido to himself.
Walking through the long prison corridor that lead to the death chamber frightened Sir Skido. The whole atmosphere made his blood run cold.
The death chamber was bustling with activity. Three men sat on the electric chairs spaced out on top of the low stage that had been erected the day before. Two of the condemned men looked extremely sombre while the man who sat in the middle, a psychopath who went by the name of Killiwe was tucking into his last meal; roast turkey suya.
An adjoining room had been converted to a public sitting area and the intervening wall had been knocked down and replaced with a large glass partition. The crowd of just over a hundred people sat quietly in anticipation.
A woman was feeding her baby amongst the crowd.
'Lagos people just love to watch criminals die sha' thought Sir Skido as he took his seat.
There were microphones, lights, TV cameras and miles of cables everywhere. The stage microphones amplified the noisy chewing and cracking of turkey bones.
The woman with the baby, Mama Bomboy stooped forward with the tiny child balanced between her shoulder blades and undid her African print wrapper revealing a bright green slip.
Naturally all eyes were on her. With one swift movement of both hands she had the baby tied tight on her back.
After working at a knot above her breasts she sat down packed away the feeding bottles and began to shout looking at no one in particular.
'See how e dey eat turkey leg. Eat well o! But make you know say you go die today'. Killiwee heard her clearly and laughed.
'Mama Bomboy wetin now? I never die yet. Leave me make I enjoy my last meal jare'.
'Stupid armed robber. Na im kill my brother. You go die today!' shouted Mama Bomboy before letting out a protracted hiss.
Sir Skido smiled. This is just the beginning he thought.
It all started six months ago. The prison Governor General other wise known as the PGG who incidentally was an old class mate of Sir Skido had decided in his wisdom that death by hanging was archaic and that to move with the times the electric chair had to be introduced into the country.
The 'Chair' had an aura about it, which he figured would strike fear into the hearts of potential criminals and thereby help to stem the epidemic state of brutal crimes that had now become commonplace in the country at large and in Lagos in particular.
The crimes ranged from ritual killings and armed robberies to assassinations and kidnapping for large ransoms. Support from top governmental officials was phenomenal and in no time a large sum of money was available for the project.
It was at this point the telephone call came. Sir Skido won the contract without tendering. So far he had supplied ninety electric chairs to various states in the country and the best was yet to come. Today however was the first time these chairs were being used and the future of his new trade depended heavily on what happened today.
Sir Skido had intentionally turned up late. The idea of an opening ceremony for a death chamber didn't seem right to him.
Neither was this whole business of public execution, but saying that 'business is business' was his motto. He knew quite well that if war should break out in the country he could easily live with selling ammunition to both sides.
The reporter from K-TV moved into position a few feet in front of Killiwee and live transmission commenced.
'Good Evening and welcome to this historical programme live from the heart of the maximum-security prison. This is Ben Benito Junior in the newly opened death chamber.
For those who didn't know what this is all about, for the first time ever we shall see the electric chair at work. I believe it's the first time in Africa. We are indeed leaders of this great continent'. The K-TV's producer lifted a card, which read 'APPLAUSE' and the stern faced crowd clapped.
'Trust us to bring you live and exclusive action as it happens. You know the name K-TV. See you all after the break'. The reporter then asked for his nose to be powered while the advertisements ran.
A pretty student on work experience rushed to him. Her incompetence as a make as a make up artist was obvious from the amount of white powder she had heaped on the faces of the three 'chairmen'. Ben Benito Junior smiled as tons of powder was heaped on his magnificent Delta shaped nose.
'Abeg start execution make we go home. Which one be all this exclusive eh?' Mama Bomboy said loudly. The producer came up to the glass partition to gesticulate to Mama Bomboy to keep silent.
Back on the air, Ben Benito Junior flashed his teeth and resumed his monologue.
'We have not just one, not two but three criminals…'
'Condemned men' shouted Emeka from somewhere in the audience.
'Sorry condemned men. Yes three executions on live TV. But before they are executed we shall be hearing from them.
Emeka and his friends began to speak in Igbo. They complained of the injustice of the jury that found Oga Landlord guilty of murder.
'This is a man who if a mosquito is sucking his blood he will politely ask it to leave rather than kill it. Now they say he has committed murder' said Emeka reverting back to English.
The noise threw Ben Benito Junior off track and he looked to the producer for help who in turn went on his hands and knees to beg the Igbo contingent to shut up.
They obliged but shook their heads as if in a daze. Emeka took Oga Landlord as a father. For when he needed to open his electrical goods shop at the Alaba market in Lagos and had run out of funds, Oga Landlord gave him a shop space without receiving any monetary advance for rent, despite the fact that a three year rent advance payment was the norm. In addition, from time to time he had helped Emeka out with 'payable when able' loans.
Many traders had good reports of Oga Landlord 's kind-heartedness and had campaigned incessantly against this death penalty to no avail.
'Bibi J' as he was otherwise called walked past Killiwee and stood next to Oga Landlord whose grey hairs seemed to have doubled during the last few months.
'I am innocent!' he cried into Bibi J's K-TV microphone before a question could be poised.
'Innocent my foot!' screamed Mama Bomboy. The Igbo contingent scowled her direction and she froze.
'With all due respect sir, if you are innocent why are you strapped to this electric chair?' asked Bibi J. The old man shook his head remorsefully.
'Benito you were at the trial yet you ask these questions. Were you asleep?' asked Oga Landlord.
'No sir it is the viewers at home I have in mind. Please explain'. The microphone was back under Oga Landlord's chin. This body heaved as a wave of grief took control of him.
'The victim was Yoruba as were the judge and jury. What chance did I have?'
'What part of the country do you hail from sir?' asked Bibi J.
'I am John Duvie otherwise known as Oga Landlord form Delta State' he paused to look at the ceiling. Many eyes went up in the direction of his gaze. There was nothing to be seen.
'Na that my tenant Fatayi put me for trouble. To cut a long story short that guy smokes drugs, but that one na different matter. You see, one day at about 2 AM, I couldn't sleep so I decided to watch a late night movie on my satellite television channel. Much to my surprise half way through the movie it switched to a football match.
I grabbed the remote control and switched back to the film but it flipped back to the football. On closer inspection I noticed a strange cable going from my decoder all the way through the wall. It was a cable I didn't know anything about. I then went outside and traced this cable till it led me to Fatayi's flat'.
A murmur swept through the seated crowd. Although many knew the story well by heart it was always sweeter from the horses mouth. This horse did not disappoint.
'People, I went into Fatayi's parlour to find the man watching football. I don't know when he did but he had tapped into my decoder. He even had a decoder and a remote control. That was when the big quarrel started and everyone woke up'.
'Er Oga Landlord did you threaten him?' asked Ben Benito Junior.
'I didn't mean it. I said I would kill him. It was vex talk. Do you know he was owing me one-year rent'.
'Is that why you killed him er? Who will train his children now? Murderer!' screamed Mama Bomboy.
Oga Landlord continued. 'I was annoyed because he told me to 'gerrout of his house'. Me. Which day dem born am? Insult!'
'Oga Landlord I have followed this case closely. Was the murder weapon not found in your room?' asked Ben Bentio Junior cautiously.
'So if I kill person I go leave the knife next to my window? Am I that stupid?'
'So what are you inferring?' asked Bibi J.
'Na person put that knife there' said Oga Landlord.
Many of the Igbo contingents nodded their heads in agreement. Oga Landlord lowered his head slowly and began to cry. 'Ha, they would not even release my corpse to my family. They say my body will become property of the state. Last night in my cell an inmate told me I have been earmarked for the anatomy dissection tables of the local medical school. Me. Oh, life!'
Seeing the conversation could not continue Bibi J moved to the next chair where a smiling Killiwee awaited smiling his interview.
'What do you think of this whole affair?' asked Bibi J.
'Benito, there is absolutely nothing to think about. Ol' boy you get toothpick there?' was Kelliwee's reply as he struggled to free a strand of tough turkey trapped between his teeth.
Ben Benito Junior whispered a word of caution into his ear. It was a brief reminder that he (Killiwee) was being paid the most for this live coverage and that if he didn't start 'performing' his prospective widow will not see the 'balance'.
Killiwee appeared invigorated. 'Ah, I don't care much for all this show. We all must die one day. That includes everyone in this room, young and old. Has any of you ever seen an armed robber throw a retirement banquet at Sixty-five years of age? Oti O! Never. We die young in this business and I am ready!' said Killiwee.
Bibi J waited a few moments to let Kelliwee's word sink in.
'Aren't you scared?'
'Do you think this initiative will deter viewers from pursuing a life of crime as you have done?'
'Lai, lai! Never! My people are probably in bed by now, or perhaps in prison. No criminal worth his salt will watch this children's play' said Kelliwee.
'So what will stop armed robbers and murders in this country?'
'Kill everyone over ten years of age and we start afresh' said Kelliwee who was now looking bored.
'We shall start the killing with you!' screamed Mama Bom boy.
Many clapped. A man flew out of his chair in rage.
'Barawo. See how e dey talk. When electric touch ya bodi I go see how your mouth go take sharp'.
Mayhem descended on the place, as curses were unleashed on Killiwee in great quantities. He smiled and returned to his Turkey suya.
The last man was known as Mile Two for he started his 'illustrious' career in that part of Lagos State.
'Mile Two, how are you?' began Bibi J.
Mile Two looked straight into the camera and hollered 'make una no tief o! See how I come disgrace my family like this eh. See how them go shock me like animal experiment. People make una watch with eye open o! God forgive me!' He looked up towards Heaven and everyone followed his gaze.
Bibi J now wore the face of a clergyman administering the last prayers by a deathbed. He placed a comforting hand on Mile Two's shoulder till he calmed down.
'What are your offences?'
'I be assassin. I guilty well, well'.
'So why did you take up such a profession?' enquired Bibi J.
'Bad friends plus demand and supply principle'.
'Ah-ah, you an economist?' asked Bibi J.
Mile Two beamed with pride. 'To O-Level standard sir. I got A3 in my WAEC after months of cramming O.Lawal'.
'I used that book also' said Bibi J whose mind had been transported to the 'good old days' of his secondary school education.
'Look this is not why we are here jo. Kill the goats and lets go home!' screamed Mama Bom Boy. The loud applause and cheering that followed proved she spoke for many.
'Sorry I got carried away. Now what do you mean when you say demand and supply principle?' asked Bibi J.
'It's the demand for assassinations and spare parts that pushed me into the supply business'.
'What spare parts?' asked Bibi J.
'Human parts for rituals. I used to be a big supplier. It is society with its dark and ugly demands that pushed me into the trade. Where are all my clients eh?'
'I was about asking. Can you name them?' asked Bibi J.
'What proof do I have eh? Who would believe me?' replied Mile Two.
'Society will soon supply you with two thousand volts. Your cries will be heard in Mile Two!' Prophesied Mama Bom Boy.
'Mama Bom Boy have respect for the condemned now' said Killiwee with his mouth full.
'Not if the condemned has no respect for the lives of the living!' screamed Mama Bom Boy to much applause.
Ben Benito Junior turned to face his audience. They looked miles away. The large glass partition gave the impression one was staring into a large aquarium. 'Please, at least respect these condemned men's last words. Some of you think them not guilty don't you?' said Bibi J.
'Leave them jo. I deserve it. I have sinned and will embrace my fate with open arms' said Mile Two.
Saying that he lost control and began to wail like a child forcibly wrenched away from its mother's breast only to be dumped in cold water.
Bibi J smiled, this was going well. Will guarantee his immotalization. This was his 'Oprah Winfrey' fantasy come true. He would be asking his bosses for a pay rise and his own talk show after this. 'This telecast was bound to make Bibi J a household name all over the Country' he thought. He looked at the three chairs mounted on the podium, the audience, the lights and the cameras. He felt a satisfying warm feeling engulf his whole body.