Your Brief Bio:
Esther Akheituame is a writer who also freelances for magazines. A graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Benin, she hopes to make a mark in her world. She resides in Ogun State, Nigeria.
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Life in Nigeria can be funny and sweet. Find out in this comic drama about Nigerian citizens and NEPA officials.
''They are here oh!"
That powerful sentence sprung everyone into action, as nobody wanted to spend the next few days or even weeks without electricity. Mama Ada was the first to reach the gate carrying Ada who was tightly strapped to her back with a worn out wrapper ...she stood with all confidence as she waited for the "NEPA" officials to check her bill that had been paid to the fullest.
(Before i continue, you are probably wondering why I used NEPA instead of IBEDC. Well in Nigeria, when a name sticks it sticks no matter how many times you try to change it,infact who has time to say IBEDC when you can easily say NEPA and the message would still be conveyed).
The officials finally arrived just as Sisi Nene was getting out of her house. They weren't even smiling on seeing that these people were already prepared for them. The only person who had a bigger frown was Ebuka, he didn't talk much but his actions were enough to pass a message, sometimes his neighbours wondered how the girls who swarmed in and out of his room daily communicated with him as one only heard his voice in greeting. Mama Bose on the other hand seemed to make up for Ebuka's quietness in the compound as she chattered non stop daily, the only time she was ever quiet was in sleep or when her husband was around which was a rare occurence. The story making the rounds was that he had a family elsewhere and this had prompted Mrs Effiong -the caretaker's wife- to advise her, a decision she had definitely regretted. You see Mrs Effiong in an attempt to help had sat Mama Bose down one day and advised her on her physical appearance telling her to minimize her tying of wrapper all day especially when her husband was around stating that it was hard to keep a man these days and she should give him something to look forward to. She also advised her on make up and how men liked having classy wives. Throughout this lesson, Mama Bose had nodded continuously but the next day we heard a different story as Mama Bose went around telling everyone that Mrs Effiong wanted to break her marriage stating that she had advised her to stop being covered up and to start putting on spaghetti tops and bum short with make up so she could show herself off to the community. People listened to her story but no one believed her as she was known to be a habitual liar who would say anything to make a story juicier, so it was little wonder to see Mrs Effiong standing as far away from her as possible.
"Where are your bills?" An official asked.
"Right here oh!" Mama Ada echoed.
One could see that she took pride in having a fully paid bill all the time.
The official sneered at her and then moved on to the others.
"Show me your bill" he kept asking. It turned out Mama Bose had paid only half of her fee and kept going on and on about how she had sent her son to the bank to pay the balance and that he would soon be back, but still expected to be commended for at least paying half of her bill. Sisi Nene could not find her bill and asked if they could check their records as she always paid her bills promptly. Everyone knew Nene never owed even though nobody knew the kind of business that she did. She was obviously the perfect tenant because she always paid her bills on time. The official was staring at her as she chewed her gum so seriously that her fake lashes seemed to rhythmically move along.
"Madam, I dont have time for this, he said in an irritated tone. Show me your bill or we will cut your light."
"Sisi Nene look for it well na", Mama Bose implored her.
"Madam you had better make sure your son is back in five minutes or i will cut your light off as well", the official said as he turned back to face Mama Bose.
"Ahn Ahn, why are you behaving like this na", she said as she eyed him maliciously.
"Oya aunty, we do not have time to go through our records", he said turning back to Sisi Nene with an outstretched palm.
Everyone knew the official needed a tip, but this time Nene didn't even budge.
"You have time to cut light abi, let me see you climb up that pole", obviously Ebuka had the hots for Nene so it came as no surprise when he rushed to her defence.
"Are you threatening me?''
"Well, you should do your job properly if you do not like being threatened."
"Do you realise you are speaking to an officer?"
"Indeed! an officerof corruption, he sneered at him. What happened to the prepaid meters we paid for months ago?" Ebuka asked amidst stutters.
At that moment,the whole compound realised why ebuka never spoke much. He was a chronic stammerer and with the anger that surged through him, he threw all caution to the wind and started an argument with the official.
Ovie was just returning from work when he saw the crowd that had gathered.
"Wetin dey happen here?" he asked.
"You don pay your bill?", Mama Bose replied with her question.
(Answering questions with questions is a usual thing in this part of the world and it even makes conversations more interesting according to research *winks*)
Ovie never paid his bills and as such there was no need for the question.
"So wetin kan dey happen" he replied
"You see that ladder so, na your light dem go first cut" was her fitting reply.
"Why dem go cut light when christmas don dey near?"
"Go ask them", she replied and walked away from him.
Ovie said nothing but just headed straight to the kernel behind his flat and brought out his rottweiler. He headed straight for the electric pole, hooked its chain on to it and then went inside his room to watch television.
No one was aware of Ovie's actions until they had all gotten tired of the fracas. The realisation had dawned on them that this official was hell bent on cutting off their electricity supply irrespective of how much they argued. Mama Ada was the only one who wasn't bothered though as she knew that she was safe. The official didn't even bother to check Ebuka's bill but was going to punish him for daring to argue with him, the man just turned straight to the pole with his shoulders set high with pride, enjoying the one minute of power and fame he had just achieved, he was about to climb the ladder when he noticed the dog waiting to pounce, he sprung back immediately. With fear registered on his face he asked, "Who put this dog here?"
Everyone knew who but nobody said anything, they all kept staring at him, well Mama Bose wouldn't have missed the chance to speak up if only she had paid her bill. At the moment, she was envious of Mama Ada but also knew that being quiet was necessary at this point.
"I said who did this?"
"Oga comot the dog and do your job na" Mama Bose shouted at him mockingly.
Everyone tried so hard to stifle their laughter.
After staring at them for minutes that seemed like hours, he picked up his ladder, went to his van and shouted "I will be back" as he drove off.
Finally, some peace and quiet had been restored. They all returned to their apartments but not before Sisi Nene had given a really wide smile to ebuka which only Mama Bose noticed. She would make up a story about what she had seen soon. In the meantime, she went to inform Ovie that the officials had gone, who in turn moved out to get his dog.
The landlord laughed long and hard as he looked on at the whole drama that had ensued from his balcony. There was never a dull moment with these tenants, he thought to himself as he strolled into his room to read the newspaper that had arrived an hour ago.