BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR
It was an unprecedented gathering in the pristine Nigerian capital, Abuja that Monday morning in the first week of February, 2114. President Laide Uba was flanked by all six governors of Nigeria in the newly refurbished inner office of the president. All four living past presidents of the Nigerian federation were also in attendance at the historic gathering in the presidential villa. Dr. Ifeoma Saraki, governor of Middle Belt Nigeria was the star of the gathering.
Mrs. Saraki had made Nigerians in all parts of the world very proud after leading a team of Middle Belt Nigerians on a remarkable trip to the moon that broke travel time to the lunar surface to under 18 hours. She had returned to earth in an airship that landed in Escravos, South South State, SSS, the region that was formerly known as the Niger Delta region.
Following her return, Governor Saraki had briefed President Uba on her escapade on the moon using a mobile phone for the purpose of secrecy. Though mobile phones had gone out of fashion at the middle of the last century, the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, NIA had sustained a network for secret government communications even after the last mobile network in the country, Naijacom had closed shop in 2048.
As she sauntered in that Monday morning, Governor Saraki had proceeded straight to the inner office of the president where President Uba on sighting her immediately rushed to embrace her. As they held each other, Governor Saraki handed over to the president a briefcase which she had not allowed to leave her presence since her remarkable return from the moon a week ago.
As she handed over the case, the two women who were grinning from ear to ear giggled, sparking some amusement around others in the office.
The last time a physical meeting of the National Council of State took place was more than 23 years ago in 2097 during the administration of the last female President of the country, Mrs. Augusta Atiku-Jonathan.
Following the rumpus that shadowed her tenure, it had almost become accepted that it would take another 50 years before Nigerians elected another female president. But within half of that estimated time, Ms Uba broke the taboo as she was elected in 2112.
Besides Atiku-Jonathan, three former presidents were also on hand for the historic meeting that also had the five other governors of the Nigerian federation in attendance.
Governor Ifeoma Saraki, originally from Biafra Nigeria had married into the legendary politically astute family of the Sarakis 15 years ago, and quickly brought beauty and brains towards the development of Middle Belt Nigeria that was now the economic nerve centre of the country.
Lagos, the onetime commercial capital had over time lost colour and content in the economic shaping of the country. Also depreciated in economic value was the once boisterous Niger Delta region now formally known as the SSS. The region had lost its economic vitality after the drying up of her oil wells.
An exception was Delta Province in the SSS which brimmed with economic activity like an oasis in the desert. One of the last men to have governed the state before the Great Restructuring of the federation, Emmanuel Uduaghan, had the foresight of pushing the state out of dependence on oil revenue with an economic and political blueprint styled as Delta Beyond Oil.
Indeed, just about 80 years ago when Nigeria was more than half dependent on oil revenue, only few would have believed that the middle belt section of the country would one day become the economic power house of the nation.
Governor Saraki was, however, not aloof to the fact that she was only part of the success story. Natural resource was also part of the story. The Middle Belt had become the world centre for tiban production. Tiban, itself, had become the metal of choice for the viewnet, the communication system that replaced the internet in 2050.
Following Nigeria’s leading edge in viewnet technology, it had been adopted during the presidency of former President Augusta Atiku-Jonathan that all future meetings would be by viewnet given the attainment of uninterrupted power supply in the country in 2047.
With viewnet, one did not need computers, a now obsolete electronic device that was the platform upon which the internet was based. When the internet emerged from the United States about 130 years ago, it had fascinated mankind at that time with the revolution it brought in communication, entertainment, technology and many other fields of human endeavour.
But all that seemed history today with the viewnet, a technology that communicated human presence in 3D without the encumbrance of software technology. One could be in one location and appear full body in another location through viewnet.
Remarkably, Nigeria and indeed, Middle Belt Nigeria, was at the centre of the technology and scientists, business-techs as they were now called, from the United States, China, Russia, Israel were all flocking to Middle Belt Nigeria to transact business with the Nigerians who were the leading lights in the new technology.
The Middle-Belt was in every way comparable to the Silicon Valley, the portion of territory in the San Francisco Bay region in the United States where several innovations that drove the technology of the internet were churned out more than a century ago.
Besides her leading edge in viewnet technology, Middle Belt Nigeria had also become a leading global centre in interferon research. After decades, biochemists working from Middle Belt Nigeria had finally pierced through to prove the wonders of interferon as a panacea for most human medical problems.
Seated in the room quietly piercing through his mobile viewnet device was Senator Ojone Mark, the president of the Senate. Senator Mark and the president of the federation shared some sort of history.
Nearly 100 years ago before the restructuring of Nigeria, the Senate President’s great grand-father, Senator David Alechenu Mark, who also occupied the post of Senate President in Nigeria had with his then politically savvy deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, been at the centre of the crisis that followed the attempt by opponents of the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to frustrate him from achieving a second term.
Before his ascension as Senate President, that Senator David Mark now long dead, had become something like a phenomenon in Nigeria, having been a successful military politician who was famed for his prowess in surviving many military purges before he met his match in the person of one General Sani Abacha, a military figure who according to records, was one of the most brutal rulers in Nigeria’s history.
David Mark, it was alleged, seamlessly flowed into the political setting and became a senator when the military government that took over from Abacha instituted the Fourth Republic about 113 years ago. In the Senate, Mark was reputed to have also become a phenomenon, shoveling out Senate Presidents not to his liking or that of his political leader, the then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
President Uba even though a direct relation of Obasanjo, had for most of her life muddled her relationship to the former president who ruled Nigeria over 100 years ago.
Her big secret was only uncovered by her political rival just before the last election of 2112. Her rival had traced her linage to Ms Iyabo Obasanjo, daughter of President Obasanjo who herself shook Nigeria at the end of 2013 with a letter where she described her father as an ego driven, self centred manipulator of men who never cared for her children or grandchildren.
It was an open letter which came to light when Vanguard Newspaper, one of the oldest surviving multimedia channels, published the letter when it still printed newspapers. It was a scandal as Vanguard published it even before the letter got to the father.
An attempt by Uba’s rival to taunt her with the issue quickly bounced back as the public identified with her great-grandmother’s action, calling her a patriot for severing family relations for the betterment of the country.
Now 100 years later, a descendant of President Obasanjo was president of the country and another descendant of Senator Mark was Senate President, but then under a much more stable political entity.
Seated by herself and obviously burdened by age was former President Atiku-Jonathan 75, the grand-daughter of one of the powerful politicians who trudged the Nigerian political space almost a century ago. Though she only knew her famed grandfather, Atiku Abubakar as a toddler before he passed on, she had nevertheless inherited many of her grandfather’s famed political skills and potentials for organisation.
Before the internet faded away at the middle of the last century, she remembered searching through what was known as the world wide web to read tales of how her father had got the better of his political contemporaries and fought her husband’s own grandfather, President Goodluck Jonathan to a political standstill in the last election before the restructuring of the country in 2017.
It had become a common joke between former President Atiku-Jonathan and her husband, Prof. Daniel Jonathan, a lecturer at the University of Port-Harcourt, how their grandfathers fought each other over political ascendancy before the Great Restructuring. Prof. Jonathan was a professor in the new field of POET, Post Oil Exploration Trauma, a field of psychology that focuses on the management of distresses in former oil producing areas of the Niger Delta whose oil fields had long dried up.
Anytime his wife brought up the issue, Jonathan often silenced his wife with his own anecdote of how his famed grandmother, Mrs. Patience Jonathan at the peak of the battle for her husband’s political survival commandeered presidential guards to Atiku Abubakar’s mansion in Asokoro and personally locked up Atiku in his toilet until he called off a conspiracy by the All Progressives Congress, APC majority in the Senate to impeach her husband.
“But my grandmother locked up your grandfather in the toilet,” Prof. Jonathan would reply with a dose of hilarity that often silenced his wife and former president. Not a few Nigerians often remarked that Prof. Jonathan cut the image of his grandfather who according to history cut the picture of a man who could was often taken for granted.
But such tales were often missed with exceptions of efficacious brutality as the case of the cavalier dismissal of a Central Bank governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who had for weeks harangued Jonathan’s government as a corrupt one.
Also present in the room was Chief Jibril Ekweremadu, governor of Biafra Nigeria whose ancestry flowed from a former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. Senator Ekweremadu was famed for his political wizardry a hundred years ago and was pivotal to the Great Restructuring of the Nigerian federation.
The late Ekweremadu had in his time championed the single tenure campaign that finally brought a solution to the constitutional crisis triggered by the determination of President Goodluck Jonathan to seek a second term in office 100 years ago.
Besides celebrating the successful return from the moon, the meeting was also called to brief the council on President Uba’s decision to apply laser beam warfare on rebels that had increasingly troubled the Nigerian federation from parts of South-South State and to brief the former leaders on plans for Nigeria’s 200th anniversary as a country.
From the creeks of SSS as the state was famously called, had emerged a terrorist group called SSS Brigade which terrorised parts of the state cutting off the tiban optic layers that was the framework for the viewnet technology.
Disruption of the transponders inevitably led to a disruption of viewnet network across parts of the SSS. A hundred years ago, the people of the region were known for their art in disrupting petroleum pipelines but following the drying up of onshore oil wells profits from such crimes had reduced.
Even worse, the few oil wells available were of little value given the almost worthlessness of crude oil. With all vehicles powered by electricity, oil wells that were 100 years ago famed as an automatic step to fortune had become a burden.
Those who now owned oil wells maintained them only for historic research or kept them for antiquity.
As the meeting began, President Uba brought out from beneath her desk, the briefcase she had received earlier from Governor Saraki to unfold an ash tainted flag of the United States.
“All of you gathered here hold a secret you must hold to your graves as what you see here is something that could lead to a war between us and the United States.”
Continuing, she said: “Even though we would not like to flaunt our new powers, it would not be good for us to be seen in the international community as a bully, even though as a female president I wouldn’t mind to be seen as the president of Nigeria bullying the once powerful United States.”
The president then went on to tell the gathering how Governor Saraki in her mission to the moon had taken away the flag of the United States where it had been planted by the last U.S. Apollo Mission to the moon about 140 years ago.
In the place of the United States flag, the Nigerian green white green had been posted to claim ownership of the spot believed to be the best position to launch manned missions to outer space and other planets.
“Now, let us talk about our plans for a peaceful 200th anniversary given the fact that our country’s 100th anniversary was overshadowed with the shedding of the blood of school children by a group of terrorists in the Northeast,” the president said.