The Vice-President could not sleep. He listens to his wife snoring beside him and realizes that if he indeed becomes president, he will be stuck with her for another four years. That will be one of his biggest regrets. He had been planning to divorce her secretly before he was picked as Vice President and now providence was going to make him president.
He really should be asleep. Everything is working according to plans and the president will not know what hit him when the senate reconvenes in two days and he is impeached. The Maestro has worked everything out including ensuring that the perception that the president is ineffectual does not affect the party. They have based all their criticisms on the person of the president and used his own media team against him. The only person they have not been able to get is Nasir, but even that is about to change. He really should sleep, tomorrow is going to be a long day. He has to go through the list of cabinet members and decide who to keep and who to let go. Left to him, he will sack them all and get in his own people. But this is politics, interests need to be protected. He gets into bed and shuts his eyes. He knows that soon enough, sleep will come
Nasir is going through his email. If someone has managed to hack into his mail who knows how many emails they could have sent. He clicks on sent items and begins to go through the mails one after the other. He is very tired and wonders if it will not be better to go to sleep and do a more thorough check whenever he wakes up. The knock on the door startles him. He automatically looks at the time. it is 1.42 am. The knock becomes a more urgent bang. He looks at his phone. There are no missed calls. He rises and goes to the door and peeks through the spyhole. Maria. His eyebrows furrow as he wonders what she can possibly want from him at this time of the night. He unlocks the door and lets her in, a query in his eye.
“The President will like this visit kept below the radar,” Maria begins the minute she steps in, “when was the last time you swept this apartment?
Nasir wrinkles his nose wondering what smell she is referring to. “swept”.
“For listening devices? Bugs?”
Nasir feels like a child who is about to get a scolding.
“That will be since inauguration,” he answers.
“Then I suggest we talk outside,” Maria concludes already leading the way out.
Nasir turns slowly wondering if he should throw on his just discarded shirt. He decides against it and walks out topless.
Niyi sits hunched over his laptop. Just as he suspected the header of the email terminates in Shenzhen China. He tries to remember something he had read about the city and decides that whoever wrote that email does not want to be found. Niyi stops to think of the handful of hackers he knows that can execute something like this and he can only count them in one hand. He cannot decide on a process of elimination. At this point he does not even know what the criteria will be. One thing he knows for sure is that the person knows Akata and perhaps has a personal beef with her but also knows Nasir and may be looking to settle scores as well.
Niyi massages his temple with his fingers. Perhaps those on Twitter may know Akata but what could she have possibly done to make anyone so upset as to keep attacking her. The only thing he can think of is perhaps someone in the presidency is upset about a story she did and hired a hack to deal with her. He can’t even think of the Social Leaguers, they are the ones most likely to be used by someone in government. But, he has also come to know that things are not always what they seem. He goes back to his laptop, time to rewrite the algorithm.
The President sits on his desk going through some papers, reports from various Ministers just as he has directed. He is particularly interested in the Minister of Education’s report. He sorts it and begins to read. The Minister has some revolutionary ideas for the sector but he can’t seem to concentrate on reading it. He keeps wondering if he is one of those that are for him or against him. He shuts the report and wonders whether Maria has carried out his instructions. He knows he should have asked for Nasir to be brought in so he can speak to him directly. He deserved that much. But he has again allowed his aversion to conflict to make him ask Maria to do the job. He needs to concentrate on fighting his political enemies and not be wondering if his Chief of Staff is still on his side. The hard part of this fight is that he is fighting members of his own political party without being aware that there are even factions. Maria is the only person on earth he trusts at the moment. She had suggested that he make Senator Jimmy Vice President. He closes the report and rises from his seat. His actions in the next 24 hours will be the most crucial. The first thing he has to do is replace his Chief of Staff and he knows the woman for the job.
Maria makes her way towards her car. Nasir hadn’t taken it so well, not that she expected him to. She knows he loves the President like a father but what had to be done, had to be done. She wonders if she should go home and take a quick nap before flying to Lagos to complete assignment number two. Her phone beeps as she gets into the car and she checks the notification. It is a message from Osi. She reads it quickly and shuts her eyes. They are moving faster than she expected. How did they know to go after Senator Jimmy. If you found him so can anyone else. It was time for her to activate her Twitter network. She has left it dormant for years. She seeks out a number and hits send.
Akata picks the call at the third ring. She had fallen asleep trying to figure out how to resolve her issues and nothing seems to be working. The number displayed on her phone screen is not familiar to her.
Akata holds her breath. There is only one person on earth who calls her that.
The laugh at the other end of the line is unmistakable. Akata remembers a time from long ago when they had been friends and had adopted those names. She also remembers a more recent meeting.
“Yeah, it’s me,” Maria responds.
“You sound so awake…it’s 2 o’clock you know.”
That laughter again, followed by a clearing of the throat. Akata could tell this was going to be important.
“I need your help,” Maria begins. “I need your help with pushing a counter narrative.
“Yes, you will be going head to head against the Social Leaguers.”
“I don’t understand,” Akata says, sitting up in her bed. “You know I’m non-partisan.”
Maria looks at her watch.
“You know what? I will be at your place in 15.”
She hangs up before Akata can protest.
Akata gets out of bed naked as the day she was born. She always sleeps naked. From as long as she can remember, she has always been comfortable looking at her naked self in the mirror. She once made a joke about being able to identify any part of her body if it goes missing. She picks out a chiffon gown and throws it on as she makes her way to the living room. She knows that Maria will stop at nothing to get her to be involved in this war, but she is determined not to be drawn in.
The knock comes exactly 15 minutes later and Akata is ready for it. She had boiled water before Maria arrived and she used the first five minutes to break the ice. She avoids looking at Maria, concentrating painstakingly on the measuring: a level teaspoon of cocoa, a teaspoon of sugar, two teaspoons of milk, hot water to fill the small cup.
“Would you like something to drink?” Akata asks unexpectedly.
“Maybe after we talk,” Maria answers a smile on her lips. Akata misses the smile. “You know you can look up at me,” Maria continues. She wants to add something else but changes her mind.
“You know my answer is no. I know we have been friends and I know it’s probably for a good cause. But my answer is still no. Besides, I don’t even know if my blog is going to recover from the last spate of continuous attacks. So I really am of no use to you”.
Akata finally looks up and finds Maria’s smile, firmly in place.
“But I haven’t asked you anything…yet,” Maria responds.
Their eyes meet and hold and then the two burst out laughing.
“My God, Akata,” Maria begins, “You are so uptight, you are seated bolt upright like we used to do in Madame Coker’s French class.”
Akata relaxes as she continues laughing. She remembers how it used to be in Madame Coker’s class. Everyone seated bolt upright hoping they don’t get called to answer any of her questions. She never said anything in English from the moment she steps into the class to when she leaves adding to the general confusion.
“On second thoughts, I will have a beverage. Do you have any coffee?”
They both walk into the kitchen and Akata picks out the unopened tin of coffee from the shelf and gets out a cup.
Akata hands her the cup but she makes no move to leave the kitchen.
“I have no intentions of dragging you into politics. But I know how much you love this country. And no matter how non-partisan we may be, there comes a time when we cannot afford to be neutral.” Maria pauses but Akata can tell the pause is not meant for her to respond .
“What I am about to tell you will shock you but I swear to you on my honour that it is the absolute truth. When I’m done you can decide if you still want to sit on the fence.”
@akatablog was first to tweet the breaking news. The Presidency had relieved Nasir of his duties with immediate effect. Wale almost had a heart attack when he saw the tweet. He reached out to Etim Immediately but Etim was unreachable. Etim was on a flight headed out to meet with the Maestro and the rest of the Social leaguers. Things had reached the point where phone calls could no longer do and the next few days would be crucial.
The rest of Twitter received the news with mixed feelings. The Fencists tried to analyse the news and what it could portend. Some predicted an imminent cabinet reshuffle. The lower rung of the social leaguers were at a loss what to say, without their leadership actively tweeting, some decide to just ignore the information. Wale tweets that it was difficult to tell if this news was true or the handiwork of some disgruntled bloggers and advised that everyone calmly wait for the presidency to release a statement. A few tweeps took exception to Akatablog being referred to as “disgruntled bloggers” and soon there was a full blown twar between the social leaguers and the supporters of Akata blog with each trying to outsub the other. It was in the midst of this cacophony that Zainab opened her Twitter.
(Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)