Four identical tinted black cars stood in front of Hon. Eke’s mansion at New Haven Enugu. First and last cars were always for his escorts. The third was for his friend and adviser, Mr. Jekwu Ikeoha – the man Hon Eke wouldn’t leave behind when going to important places.
Hon Eke lowered his huge black body into the second car. He was dressed in his traditional outfit – a white linen embroidered around the neck with red embroidery material.
He wore his ozo – chieftancy hat, a traditional neck bead and red beaded bangle. It was a rare outfit one could see Hon Eke in on a normal day. He liked dressing in English wears, except on Fridays and Sundays.
His driver took the wheel and drove to Igwe Okelue’s Palace.
As they drove by the beautiful clean freeway that led to the palace, Mr Ikeoha couldn’t help but bother about the number of security persons escorting them. A total of eight. Three in front, three behind, one with him and one with Hon. Eke.
Hon. Eke had terrible fear for the unknown and had always talked about kidnappers and assasins in his dreams.
When they approached Igwe Okelue’s palace, Hon. Eke proceeded with his entourage without following the protocols. He was supposed to wait for Igwe to accept to see him before entering .
Igwe’s guard stood like a fly in front of them with his hands spread wide as if to hug them all, making an exaggerated but futile effort to stop them from entering without Igwe’s consent.
It was not done. No visitor entered Igwe’s palace as though he owned it and because he didn’t want to lose his position as Igwe’s best guard he had to act up even though he was terrified by the riffled men before him just like the cabinet seated with Igwe.
Wearing a fake boldness, he made it clear to Hon Eke that no one enters Igwe’s palace without Igwes approval.
Hon Eke did not push it further. They stood halfway waiting for Igwe to react.
Igwe watched them calmly for a while before asking the guard to allow them in. The guard hastened away without any disinclination.
“Welcome, ” Igwe said after swallowing hard for not receiving a bow nor a kingly hail from any of them .
“Good day Igwe! ” Hon.Eke greeted and Igwe counted disrespect number two. He hated ‘Good day’ as a greeting. To him, such a greeting could only come from an enemy or an angry fellow but he was a very humble Chief and enduring as well. So, he answered the greeting in spite of his dislike of it.
The security men scattered themselves in the compound watching cautiously in all directions while one stood behind Eke and Ikeoha who sat adjacent to Igwe.
Igwe kept studying them. Even the governor who paid him a visit some few weeks ago didn’t enter his palace with such number. He came in with one escort.
“What brings you to my palace?” Igwe asked ignoring the whole drama.
“Greetings Igwe. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to deliver my gift to you in person. Sorry about that.” He said and looked at his Ikeoha as if to confirm if if he used the right words. Ikeoha nodded in affirmation.
“It’s alright.” Igwe said and cleared his throat. Sorry for refusing to take the gift from your boys. I’m only trying to make sure it’s really from you. Now that I know, please bring the gift.” He said and the humour hit Hon. Eke and his men. Igwe joined them in laughter.
“I’ll be coming back in a few days. I have a favour I would like to ask of you Igwe,” he said after handing him the key. He expected a kind of jubilation from Igwe for receiving a three million gift in the form of a car but he only smiled and thanked him without even rising to his feet to shake him. He had never known him to be proud and unresponsive. It’s okay, as long as he would be given a chance to discuss the land issue with him.
“It’s alright. Thanks for your wonderful gift to me. Do you know that this is my third car gift this year.” I get said. “It’s just January and I’ve gotten three. How many would they be by December? My people are appreciative of me. This year must be good. Thank God. Hmmm. Thank you Eke.” And now Eke felt that Igwe was trying to make it clear that he was not the only one who had given him such gift. He wanted to see the other two cars to find out if they were as gorgeous as his–
Igwe saw them to the gate and changed his countenance while going back to his throne. He was disturbed about Hon. Ekes visit, gift and the favour he talked about. He didnt want to be hooked with a gift to do what he didn’t want to do.
His cabinet had taken their leave to the corner of the palace to give him some privacy to discuss with his august visitor. When they returned, the rest of the meeting was about the visit and the gift and “why?”.