Aminu Baba is young and ambitious. Having amassed wealth he now wants power. He wants to govern his home State, Mandiki, to replace the corrupt incumbent, Alhaji Sanni, who has misruled the State. He asks his lifelong friend, Jalo Tijani, for his view. But Jalo is alarmed and advises him against it saying that politics in their country, Songhai, is a dangerous game. He may not be equipped to fight the Party mafia. Tijani says, `I’m just concerned about the hyenas, the people with the long knives and the petrol bombs, the thugs. I don’t think you can play as dirty as they can. I’m just concerned about your safety.’
But Aminu, with confidence, forges ahead, resigns the headship of the giant Commodities Board. He follows up with a press conference. He announces his intention to vie for nomination as candidate of the ruling Peoples National Party for the Governorship of Mandiki State.
Soon after, he has unsolicited visitors led by Umaru Kure, power broker and member of the Party’s inner caucus. They give their own advice. He should forget the idea. The Party wants Sanni to have another term to complete the projects he has initiated. He must not start a fight he cannot win.
Aminu tells them off. But politics in Songhai is more than a game of principles and political will as he finds out when it’s too late.
This thinly veiled story about Nigeria was written years ago unearthing what Nigerians would rather sweep under the carpet at a time it was not safe to write such things. At that time Northern domination of the polity was at its highest. You want to set up a company you must have a northern prince as chairman or director. You want to make progress in anything to do with the federal government you needed to have a northern godfather.
That book was originally published under the Longman Nigeria Drumbeat Series as Devils Playground. Nigeria has since moved forward – in positive directions in some areas, and in not so positive directions in other areas. Is it still the Devils Playground? Download your copy of the book from Amazon Kindle..

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