Love Explodes in Thomas’s Life and He Meets Nancy, An Old School Mate

Love Explodes in Thomas’s Life and He Meets Nancy, An Old School Mate

“I can’t believe this. Please tell me this is not the man I think it is.”

There was a tense silence in the room as Chief Adekunle glared directly at Thomas. This was the precise moment Thomas had been going to extremes to avoid for the past two weeks.


Ever since Kenny had arranged to work for the newly appointed National Secretary, Thomas had been in hiding. His last encounter with Chief Adekunle’s wife had not only proven to be embarrassing, but it had almost cost him his life. His final telephone conversation with the Chief had become a barrage of insults and threats. Adekunle had actually commissioned Kenny to eliminate Thomas from the face of the earth, and it had been a bold decision on Kenny’s part to disobey the order. Thomas found it odd that Kenny had no qualms about working with Adekunle since that night, but as the Boss always said, “In politics, nothing is personal.”

As far as Thomas was concerned, meeting up with Chief Adekunle after all that had happened was about as personal as anything could possibly get, so he did whatever he could to avoid it. As Kenny dispensed instructions for taking photographs, doing research, and reporting his findings, Thomas showed up at the Boss’s flat at the strangest hours, sometimes in the middle of the night and other times at the crack of dawn. He hoped that the Chief could not possibly be involved in meetings during those dark times. Kenny understood Thomas’s fears and he appreciated his willingness to work with the team, but he wished Thomas’s visits would come at more suitable hours that did not interrupt his sleep.


This night, however, Thomas’s strategy had backfired; not because he had miscalculated the time, but because Adekunle himself was trying to slip in and out of Kenny’s flat without any political opponents or media representatives catching him in the act. As a result, Thomas found himself standing face-to-face with the Chief in Kenny’s flat at four o’clock in the morning.

“Calm down, Chief,” Kenny quietly pleaded. “Mr. Katta is a member of our team.”

“A member of your team?” Adekunle exclaimed. “If I remember correctly, you were instructed to kill him, not adopt him!”


Thomas felt his hands suddenly become clammy with sweat. His first impulse was to run, but he had a feeling that if he tried, he would not get far. He grimaced and swallowed hard, hoping for the best.

Fortunately, he had the Boss on his side.

“C’mon, Chief,” Kenny said. “You wouldn’t want me to waste such a valuable asset, would you? Thomas is a well-educated man. He has been a proficient data collector and he manages to move among the masses without suspicion. In fact, in the short time he’s been with us, he’s proven to be a major brain box, as it were. He’s intelligent, quick-witted, and loyal to a fault. We’re lucky to have him on our team as opposed to someone else’s.”

The Chief let out a disgusted grunt. “If you had taken him out like I told you to, he wouldn’t be on anyone’s team.”


Kenny nodded. “Yes sir,” he replied, “and we’d be a weaker team for the loss. I’m asking you to trust me on this. Thomas has served us well, and he will serve you well also.”

Chief Adekunle was clearly dismayed, but he decided to back down. First, he trusted Kenny and was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Second, it was four o’clock in the morning and he was too tired to argue any further. He glared at Thomas, grinding his teeth. “One mistake, regardless of how small, will be your last,” he warned.

Thomas exhaled nervously and gave the Chief an affirmative nod.

Chief Adekunle looked out of the window, pulled out his mobile and called his security details around the building to ensure that it was clear of witnesses. Once convinced, he discreetly made his exit.


Kenny reached over and patted Thomas on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, brother,” he assured him. “I’m sure you’ll win him over.”


( ( ( ( (



Chief Adekunle paced around his office, occasionally stopping at the window to take in the sight of the streets of Lagos bustling with activity below. “The party needs a new angle,” he proclaimed. “Aditti and his so-called Progress Party have already cornered the rich voter market.”

“Sure, but how many rich voters are out there?” Kenny asked.

Adekunle rolled his eyes. “There are apparently enough to keep Aditti in office for three terms so far,” he muttered. “It’s as if those rich votes count more than everyone else’s.”

“Well, you know what they say,” Kenny remarked. “It’s not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.”

Adekunle nodded. “Exactly,” he agreed. “We need to ensure that our votes get counted and that there are too many of them to be ignored. So, how can the True Nigeria Party pull in more votes?”

Thomas sat on the small sofa along the back wall. Kenny had asked him to accompany him to the meeting with Adekunle to take notes on the strategies discussed and perhaps offer some input. From the moment they arrived, Adekunle had not so much as acknowledged Thomas’s presence, and for the rest of the time, Thomas just listened to the men as they tossed ideas into the air. He wasn’t sure how the Chief would react if he injected his thoughts into the discussion, despite the fact that Kenny had brought him along for that very reason. Adekunle was reading from a list of notes prepared by one of his advisors. He did not seem particularly impressed by the strategies that had been proposed by the very people he was paying large salaries to in order to come up with brilliant strategies.

“There must be some way to connect with the working people of Lagos,” the Chief said.

“That would be a good idea if more people were working,” Kenny responded. “The current unemployment rate is the highest in the city’s history. Perhaps you need to address that.” Kenny turned toward Thomas. “Our man Katta spent a few months trying to find work in Lagos. I’m sure he has a few things to say on the subject.”

Thomas glanced up, startled by the sound of his name. He was quite surprised when he saw Chief Adekunle looking at him, awaiting his response. He drew in a deep breath and collected his thoughts. “Well,” he began cautiously, “I think the TNP is at a disadvantage because it lacks a clear-cut socio-economic policy.”

He paused for an uncomfortable moment, hoping he had not offended the Chief. Adekunle did not appear to be offended. Rather, he actually looked quite intrigued.

“Go on,” he prodded.

Thomas sat up a little straighter and tried to exude a sense of confidence. “As you said Chief,” he continued, “the Progress Party has clearly identified its supporters. The party caters to the wealthy, and Aditti continues to be popular because he understands their desires and does a good job of fulfilling them, whether or not such a thing is in the best interest of the rest of the population. As for Toyo and the People’s Party, they tried to play nice with the less privileged population, but all they managed to say was, ‘We really feel sorry for you.’ I think they meant well, but they didn’t offer any tangible solutions to the Lagosian socio-economic crisis. I think the people have heard so much talk over the years that it all sounds the same. They are sick and tired of all the broken promises, and they don’t believe the same old rhetoric that gets shoved down their throats every time an election rolls around.”

Adekunle paced from one end of the office to the other, nodding with each step. “Yeah, I get that,” he said, clearly sounding frustrated, but still interested and determined. “What can the TNP do to get people to not only listen to us, but to believe that we really do have something better to offer?”

Thomas focused his mind, then answered the question. “I think you need to communicate a definitive plan of action,” he suggested. “For years, all the parties have been bribing the masses by giving away clothes, salt, and beverages. Some have even handed out piles of cash. That’s all okay, I suppose, but these are just temporary items. They may make people feel content for that particular moment in time, but they will not provide them with reliable, long-term security. If you look at poverty as a social disease, you must see that handouts are only temporary means of relief for its symptoms. If you want to see long-term health, the disease must be cured. People need to hear a candidate say that he has a plan that will create jobs, allow people to support themselves and their families, and give them hope that their children will not have to face a lifetime of malnourishment and poverty.”

Adekunle stopped pacing and leaned up against the wall. “Surely you’re not suggesting that all a candidate has to do is say, ‘I have a plan,’” he griped. “If it were that easy, everyone would say it.”

Kenny laughed. “I haven’t heard you say it yet,” he cracked.

Adekunle flashed him an irritated glance.

“Obviously, you can’t just say it,” Thomas clarified. “You need to demonstrate it. Think of all the things people in neighbourhoods like Ajegunle face on a daily basis: traffic gridlock, prolonged blackouts, the constant threat of crime. If the TNP could detail a serviceable plan for solving even one of these problems, it would immediately garner a significant amount of attention. Not just from potential voters, but from the media as well. On top of that, when it comes to the media, this is the perfect moment to strike. Aditti is still in hiding. The press must be bored out of its collective mind right now. They’d love to latch onto another candidate who will help them sell newspapers.”

One of Adekunle’s eyebrows shot up his forehead. “That’s an excellent point,” he conceded. “We need to make a big splash right now before Aditti grows enough balls to come out of the shadows.”

“I’m sure he’ll re-emerge sometime,” Thomas said, “which is why the TNP must lay out its plan as quickly as possible. Then, when Aditti finally does show his face again, he’ll be forced to play a wicked game of catch-up. He’ll have to challenge every one of the TNP’s proposals, and it won’t be satisfactory for him to merely say, ‘That won’t work.’ He’ll be forced come up with alternatives, and by then, we may be so close to Election Day that he won’t have time to develop any.”

A self-indulgent smile took over Adekunle’s face. “It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” he growled.

Kenny shrugged. “If you say so.”

Adekunle laughed, walked across the office, and sat in the chair directly facing Thomas. “Kenny said you were one of the brain boxes in this operation,” he said. “Here’s your big chance to prove it. Have you ever written a speech?”

Thomas felt rather apprehensive. “Not exactly,” he confessed. “I wrote academic papers when I was studying at the university.”

“So, you can write?” Adekunle pressed.

“Yes, I think I can write pretty well,” Thomas stated. “I’m sure I can put together a decent oral presentation.”

Adekunle nodded. “I’m sure you can too,” he affirmed. “I’ve got an assignment for you.”

Thomas sat up to attention.

“I want you to write a draft for a speech that details the many problems that afflict the lives of the poor and also discusses the TNP’s commitment to tackling those problems one by one. Taylor can deliver it at a rally we’ll set up on the edge of Ajegunle.”

Tunji Taylor, fondly called TT, was the TNP’s gubernatorial candidate. He was well-groomed and photogenic, although not nearly as charismatic as Aditti. There was concern that he was not nearly as smart as Aditti either. Taylor was not stupid by a long shot, but Aditti had a quick wit about him that often managed to make a challenger appear like a petrified deer in a truck’s headlights. Taylor preferred to collect his thoughts before he spoke, a strategy that often served him well, but next to Aditti, it made him appear a little slow. Still, Adekunle had faith in him as a candidate because, unlike Aditti who sashayed among the rich and famous, Taylor had a very down-to-earth demeanour to which many voters could relate. Now that Aditti had been frightened into the darkness, Taylor had a chance to make his mark. Something told Adekunle that Thomas was just the man to come up with the right words to grab the country’s attention.

“How soon do you think you can knock out a draft?” he asked.

Thomas felt a satisfied grin take over his face. “Just tell me when you need it.”


( ( ( ( (


“In order to solve our social problems, we must first understand our economic structure. In the past, too much emphasis has been placed on expanding job opportunities within large corporations. That sounds well and good, but it does not address the needs of most Lagosian citizens. Research conducted by the True Nigeria Party has revealed that small businesses and individual entrepreneurs generate nearly seventy percent of the economic activity in the city of Lagos. These people are not international CEOs and millionaire investors. These are people just like you.”

The recognition of their contribution to the city’s economy was greeted with cheers by the people of Lagos. Tunji Taylor paused at the microphone and drank in the enthusiastic response. He had been studying his script for several hours before arriving at the rally that morning. He was impressed by the text of the speech and the way it broke complicated subjects down into statements that were extremely easy to understand.

Adekunle stood among the VIPs, happily surveying the crowd. The audience consisted mostly of local citizens, many of them desperate to find a statesman and a party that would understand their dilemmas and attempt to find solutions to the plight of their impoverished neighbourhoods. Adekunle had never seen a crowd this big, and on one level it made him nervous. He wondered if there were spies in the crowd and whether they were planning to generate the same kind of mayhem Kenny and his team had created at Dr. Toyo’s rally. Such thoughts did not seem to occur to Tunji Taylor. He was too caught up in the words he was delivering to the masses.

“The true businessmen of Lagos are not international tycoons,” he continued. “They are artisans, traders, and local shopkeepers. The True Nigeria Party will not only recognise these hard-working citizens, but we will celebrate them. We will focus on developing the areas where you work, live, and raise your families. These are the parts of Lagos that require urgent attention and we will start from Day One in office. We will strive to develop more dependable energy systems to reduce, if not eliminate, power outages. We will draw up new traffic patterns to diminish gridlock, and we will put officers in place to patrol our streets to keep them safe for all law-abiding citizens.”

The ovation was so fierce that even Taylor was startled by it, but he stood proudly behind the podium and waved to the adoring masses. Adekunle smiled and nodded with approval.

Kenny reached over and slapped Thomas on the shoulder. “You could earn yourself a nice living at this, Word Man.”


( ( ( ( (


The band was in full swing and the dance floor was packed in the Apapa DeepNight Club by the banks of the creek. Thomas sat at the bar and ordered himself a drink. He had not splurged much of his newly earned money up to that point. Although Kenny ensured that all team members were well-compensated for their services, Thomas felt the need to hoard much of his cash. They were in a very unpredictable line of work, and the way he saw it, the bottom could fall out at any moment. On this particular night, however, he felt the need to celebrate.

He sat on the bar stool flipping through a copy of that morning’s newspaper. The headline was big and bold: TAYLOR: NEW LAGOS MANIFESTO

The article described the speech delivered by the True Nigeria Party gubernatorial candidate Tunji Taylor as “rousing, insightful, and full of promise for the future of Lagos.” Nowhere in the article did Thomas receive any credit for the words he had put into the candidate’s mouth, but he was not surprised by that. He had done his job and had been nicely rewarded for his efforts.

Thomas nodded his head to the beat of the music as he basked in his private glory. It felt good to be out among the revellers. Despite the city’s many attractions of beaches, pubs, restaurants, shopping malls and the beautiful upmarket areas, he had not had a night of pure enjoyment in so long. He glanced around the club at the swaying bodies and smiling faces. Suddenly, his eyes locked onto one particular person: the hair, the curvaceous figure, and the full ripe lips with sleepy eyes. And of course, the big round scar above the right eye, about which she always felt self-conscious.

Thomas stood up and discreetly manoeuvred his way through the crowd. A moment later, he stood directly behind her.


The woman casually turned around and her eyes widened in disbelief. Yes, it was Nancy Ojo, the woman Thomas had been trying to track down since the night they had met in Ajegunle. Her first impulse was to bolt for the door, but before she could act on it, Thomas reached down and gently took her hand.

“It’s all right,” he assured her.

Outside in the street, away from the noise of the club, Nancy tried to hide her embarrassment.

“I didn’t want you to see me like this,” she said. “Back at school, everyone thought I would be so successful. I never wanted any of those people to know what really became of me. I had such big dreams, and I really thought I had the talent to achieve them. Fate just took me down a different road.”

“Fate?” Thomas asked. “What happened?”

Without realising it, the two started walking down the street away from the club. The slight breeze in the air chilled their faces, but nothing could pull Thomas’s eyes away from Nancy’s beautiful face. Her sumptuous black evening dress with bell sleeves added to her dignified look.

“I was all set to take on the world,” she told him. “I left home to study, and I had all these big plans for after I graduated. I was going to travel and find some place to make my personal niche.”

“Weren’t we all?” Thomas responded with a small laugh.

“I guess,” she said through a sigh. “Then, during one of the semester breaks, my parents were killed in a car crash.”

“Oh my God!” Thomas exclaimed. “Nancy, I’m so sorry.”

Nancy rubbed her tired eyes. “In that split-second my life changed drastically,” she recalled. “All the excitement and adventure I had planned for my future just crumbled away. I had two younger brothers that I needed to care for and that forced me to grow up much quicker than I would have liked. And in any case, all the people who offered me ‘decent jobs’, wanted me in bed with them first, as a final interview if you like. This is Lagos!”

“They tell me that at every turn in this city.”

Nancy continued to walk to a crossroads and then turned down a side street. Thomas was so engrossed by her voice that he paid no attention to where they were going.

“Where are your brothers now?” he wondered.

“One is studying at the university,” she replied, a pitiful look of appeal drawing over her face. “It’s very important to me that he graduates. Someone in the family needs to get a full education. The younger one is staying with another family back in Osogbo. They have been so kind to him. He’s still in secondary school. They make sure he has a roof over his head and plenty to eat so he doesn’t have to quit his studies and find a job. Jobs are so hard to find anyway.”

“So I’ve learned,” Thomas grumbled.

“I’ve tried everything possible to earn money by so-called legitimate means,” Nancy insisted. “I need to send money to my brothers so they won’t end up on the street. It’s so easy for people to judge. They have their big, comfortable houses and their nice, high-paying jobs. They don’t know what it’s like to be hungry and scared.”

Thomas nodded. “I’m sure that many of the self-righteous people who judge you wouldn’t last more than three days in Ajegunle,” he stated. “And if it makes you feel any better, my life didn’t exactly play out the way I had planned it either. I have tried to take the high road, but just like you, I’ve had to do whatever was necessary to survive. In the last few weeks, I have been involved in some things that would be considered much more disgraceful than anything you have probably done.”

Nancy laughed. “I find that very hard to believe.”

“I have no intention of rattling off my list of offences,” Thomas replied, “so you’ll just have to take my word for it.”

Nancy finally came to a stop in front of a small apartment building. “This is my place,” she told him.

Thomas glanced up at the building. “The whole thing?” he exclaimed.

She laughed and rolled her eyes. “Of course not,” she said as she playfully slapped him on the arm. “I have a little one-room apartment on the third floor.”

The two stood and looked at each other as the conversation came to an uncomfortable halt. After a moment had passed, Thomas decided to take the initiative.

“So…” he said, “are you going to invite me up?”

Nancy’s eyes widened. “Do you really want to?” She struggled to find the right words. “Are you saying, you know, after all this, you still want to spend the night with me?”

Thomas smiled. “Nancy, I have wanted to spend a night with you since I first saw you in school back in Moso.”

Nancy turned away, blushing.

Thomas placed his hands on her shoulders. “Nancy, are you… healthy?” he asked cautiously.

She ran her hand through her hair and rolled her eyes. “I’ve taken so many HIV tests that I’ve lost count,” she confessed. “I practically have track marks on my arms because of them. They always come back negative. That’s probably because I’m picky and always use a condom.”

Thomas smiled. “Do you have any left for me?” he asked.

She let out a girlish giggle and beckoned for him to follow her up the stairs.


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