There was a soft knock on the door, it opened and his chief of staff stepped in to announce the arrival of the Attorney General of the federation.
The president glanced at his chief of staff, "I'll be there in a minute," he said absentmindedly.
"Yes, Mr. President," he closed the door and left the president alone.
Meyi Oba who was sworn in as the 16th president of Nigeria earlier in the week took a deep breath and at that moment, he decided what he must do. It was highly risky and may cost the lives of some important citizens of the country, including his own but this was the only way to put an end to an epidemic that has been troubling his country for more than a decade. Once he talked to the Attorney General, there will be no going back for him.
What he had read in the reports had shaken him to the core. It took him a long time to finish it because of the effect it had on him.
Meyi Oba was an ardent follower of the horrible events in the report but what he read on the newspapers, news blogs and what he saw on television was grossly euphemized when compared to the official report he just finished reading.
He took another deep breath, rotated the luxurious-looking swivel chair he sat on to take a long look at the bronze Coat of Arms mounted on the wall behind the presidential desk. He took a third deep breath, got up from the chair and went round the presidential desk towards the door.
Meyi Oba stepped into the mini-meeting room which was just a few doors from the office of the president. The Attorney General sat on a double chair couch to the left while his chief of staff sat on an identical couch to the right. They were facing each other. As soon as the president stepped in, they both got up.
"Please, there's no need for that. This is an unofficial meeting," he waved them down and moved ahead to sit on the single chair couch at the head of the arrangement. A round glass center table sat on a Persian rug in the center of the room.
"Sorry to bring you out here on a Sunday afternoon..." he addressed the Attorney General "...but I need your input on a matter that is bothering the country.”
“Mr. President, I am always at your command, whenever you need me to be of service,” the Attorney General replied the president humbly.
Meyi Oba glanced at his chief of staff then took his time to study the Attorney General. He wore light blue caftan with a matching cap. The cap did well to cover most of his white hairs but there were heavy streaks of white hairs on his goatee, his moustache and his heavy brows. His forehead was heavily lined. The president suspected him to be in his late sixties or early seventies. He had appointed him the attorney general because the leader of his party had asked him as a favor.
“Do I have the power to order the top brass of the armed forces to work in a particular location for a period of time?” he knew the answer to that before he asked.
“As the commander in chief, you have operational command over the armed forces. You can deploy them wherever you want. You only need senate’s approval if you want to declare war on another country,” the Attorney General answered, wondering if it was a test.
“What if the top officers object going to where I am sending them, can I remove them from their command for that reason?” he asked.
“Yes–“ his chief of staff interrupted the Attorney General and said.
“–But it is a political issue for–”
The president stood up abruptly, the other men followed suit. “Thank you, Musa, for coming,” he shook the Attorney General’s hand.
“I’m glad to have been of service, Mr. President,” both walked together towards the door. Meyi Oba opened the door, the Attorney General gave a curt nod and left the mini-meeting room. The president went back to his seat. His oldest friend and now chief of staff perched at the edge of the couch.
“What is going on?” he started. “I am your chief of staff but I feel left out from what you are planning. Why are you talking about firing the army generals? I hope you know that doing that puts us in a weak position politically and we have your second term to consider, we can’t–“
“Charles, calm down,” the president interrupted him. “Did you read the report? The one I was reading throughout yesterday?” he asked his chief of staff.
Charles exhaled audibly, “I scanned through it,”
“It’s horrible and I have to do something about it fast. Very fast,” Charles nodded his agreement reluctantly.
“Call for an emergency meeting with the cabinet tomorrow, 10 in the morning and schedule a meeting with the service chiefs by 4 pm,”
“But the ministers may be out of the capital or out of the country, they usually have 3 days’ notice,” Charles protested.
“During the swearing-in of the Executive Council, I told them we were here to face the business and not to do business as usual. I also said they should not leave the capital except on holidays. This is…” he looked at his watch “…3.33 pm, fix the meeting at 4 pm and the defense meeting at 10 pm. That should give everybody at least 24 hours. Enough time for everyone to attend the meeting. Clear all my schedule for the morning and afternoon, I want to prepare for these meetings,”
“Yes, Mr. President,” Charles stood up to leave.
“One more thing,” Charles paused and paid attention. “Let them know that anyone who fails to attend this meeting, for whatever reason, will cease to serve in this government,”
“Yes, Mr. President,” Charles gave a curt nod and moved towards the door.
Before now, he was nursing hopes of being chief of staff for two terms but as he neared the door he began to wonder if this government will even complete one term in office.
To be continued…