So, new appointments and the Oga resumes. The driver and official car arrive to pick him to the airport. He has not been in the car before. One of the regular career long retired civil servants, he knows the drill.
He tells staff to gather round the car for a brief prayer before he enters.
Iya, also one of the tenured civil servants, no dey joke.
She jumps at the opportunity to pray.
A promotion could come out of this eventually. She delivers a long and eloquent prayer in Yoruba. I do not understand most of the things she says. But from the reactions of the Oga and other colleagues, it was hitting home.
After a particularly long and lyrical sounding prayer point, they click their tongues, nod and sigh “hmmm…”
Iya finishes but is not finished yet.
She runs into the office to get her GOYA anointing oil. It says olive oil but we all know the ‘anointing’ is silent.
She sprinkles it in the car.
“No blood-sucking road demon shall see this car…”
“No accident will ever meet this car…”
She walks towards the Oga. Does she dare do it?
Oh yes! She does.
And the Oga, almost two decades older than her, bows his head as she sprinkles oil on him.
“You shall finish your tenure in good health. No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper…”
His palms are lifted up to the sky.
Iya is transformed to a pastor/prophetess at this point.
I almost forget her weekly go-to lie to escape work. It has to be a lie. No one can consistently have diarrhoea every week for five years and not lose weight; or not have the decency to look pale once in a while.
I almost forget she has an extra bag and a pair of shoes she keeps on her table and under her table respectively. This is so that the day she is not around and an Oga drops by and she is called on the phone; she can confidently say:
“I come office. My bag even dey on top of the table… you go see am there. Na bank I enter.”
This can buy her time to change her plans and actually come to the office.
I push it to the back of my mind. It can only be the devil reminding me of her imperfections to make her prayer weak.
The Oga leaves.
We talk about how people, other civil servants in Nigeria leave ‘juju’ in cars, on seats and in offices. Our go-to story is our former boss who arrived at the office early in the morning and opened the door to find a tortoise staring at him. This is in the heart of Ikeja. He never entered his office again. He was the manager but he worked from the reception till he was transferred.
Rumour also has it that another Oga decided to reform his parastatal by bringing the civil servants there to heel. People with forged certificates were demoted and given deadlines to produce original certificates. He shook the whole place up. Then calamity started visiting his family.
He eventually fell ill and died of a mysterious ailment that involved maggots eating him alive.
The next Oga that came after him was advised properly by other civil servants. He reinstated the people demoted and reversed the agency to the permanently retrogressive state they all enjoy. No James Bond. Soldier come. Soldier go, barracks remain. You cannot come and die upon civil service matter. He lived prosperously and retired in due season.
The new Oga is a retired civil servant. He understands this mess.
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He is not taking chances.
As he resumed at the HO, he refused to enter his office. He immediately requested that the office be emptied of all furniture. He does not intend to use anything anyone has used. Who knows what has been planted everywhere?
He is close to 70 but in Nigeria no one is ever prepared to die.
Not the terminally ill.
Not the old.
We do not even discuss euthanasia; only white people glorify death.
We want to live a long life where every victory is fought for by juju or prayers.
In fact, we like our lives of inhaling generator fumes, lack of basic amenities and being screwed over by thieving men who scold us at every turn. We prefer to live a hundred years in hell than to go to the heaven we all believe in.
Our Oga is taking no chances. He will live long.
By orthodox prayers or Pentecostal prayers or through amulets and ancestral protection.
Whatever angle you may try, he is covered.