THE PRESIDENTIAL AGENDA (Free Story Online)

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Scene 1

EXT/DAY

There are three people sitting in a large sitting room, around a wooden table with bottles of non-alcoholic drinks piled on top of the table. One is chubby, one is slim, and the other one is a woman in her fifties. They are not about the same age. These people are sitting on large sofas, and there are other sofas as well in the room, but the others are empty, even though they are arranged in a nice and appealing way. It is morning time; the sun is still rising, casting its golden colour on their skin from the opened curtains.

Prof:          This year’s election looks like it is going to be tougher than the usual. The candidates are unusual, there is no definite assertion on where majority of the voters will be tilting towards.

Mrs Ayo:     True, this election will be a hard one for the electorates, it will be too close a call for the candidates, but I am sure my husband would do well. Mr Ayo seems to be a better option for most people. Everyone knows he has a good heart and he is a great philanthropist.

Prof:             You don’t have to say that, have you forgotten one governor we had in one the states in the north. He was a great philanthropist, too, but he could not deliver. Philanthropy and good governance are not the same. Someone might be a good philanthropist, but then he does not know the rudiments of good governance at all just like the governor I am talking about.

Mrs Ayo:      I understand, but Mr Ayo, my husband, being a philanthropist shows he has a good heart for the people. Mr Larry is not a philanthropist at all, and we are not even certain that he knows the rudiments of good governance. Isn’t it better the people settle for someone who has this good heart for his people?

Mr Ayo:      (silent. Picks his half drunk bottle of beer from the table and gulps it. Mrs Ayo and Prof watch him briefly, and then look away).

Mrs Ayo:         Well, in my own opinion, we should not underrate Larry. He has a great chance against my husband. He has a civil service background, and this means he has been with the government people for quite sometime now and knows how the government is run. It would be easier for him to adapt and make the machinery of the government work for him. He would use all of these to convince the people.

Prof:          If it is by that, do you remember there was a civil servant governor who messed up his state, too?

Mrs Ayo:             Do we have to keep judging these ones because of the past politicians, don’t you think we should judge them for what they stand for themselves and not what the other politicians have done?

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Prof:          You raised the template by judging your husband with the template of a failed philanthropist governor.  Why don’t we then judge Mr Larry with the same template?

Mrs Ayo:             (turns to her husband, Mr Ayo). You aren’t saying anything? You just drinking and drinking.

Mr Ayo:    (inhales and exhales). I think all these no necessary. I would win the election. The elections are mine. Simple thing. Enough money provision. Simple and good distribution. Everyone happy. I win.

Prof:       Sir, winning election is not as easy as that. You see, you are a business man and philanthropist and you know how hard it is? This is the same way politics is.

Mr Ayo:      Well, if it is not be that stupid Larry, then it is me. I get bills to pay, the faster this election come, the better. You be professor, know little or nothing apart from book, you not  have a politics sense like me, you not have people upon people waiting to you for survival or your money.  Winning this election not be a huge problem to me.

Prof:          You remember, sir, I am well read in anything politics. All right, we believe that winning the election is not part of your problem, but in what way do you think the Larry candidate do you think can become a problem to you? I mean how can he prevent you from winning.

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Mr Ayo:       (brings out a straw from his pocket. He draws his bottle of beer close to himself, inserts the straw and sucks like a baby). I go win. I win.

Mrs Ayo:           Ayo, Prof asked you a question.

Mr Ayo:        I no care. (Hisses). The Larry can come lick my feet for what I care.

Mrs Ayo:         Well, I think Mr Larry is experienced, pragmatic, resourceful and knowledgeable. He is definitely the best bet for that position for some voters. We can win them over by bringing something else to the table apart from this deadbeat tale of philanthropy and compassion. People are way wiser now.

Prof:      I think he is too cold and not compassionate enough to be the president. Mr Jay is compassionate enough to care, apart from that, he has been lending a helping hand for quite some time now.

Mrs Ayo:     You talk as if you know your candidate well enough?

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Mr Ayo:       (makes a loud sucking sound. The other men turn to look at him. He hisses).

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Scene 2

EXT/DAY

The camera shows a lonely street, and focuses on a Mrs Ayo, holding her bag with one hand and holding a flag with the other. They are walking along the street, a street jam-packed with cars and littered with dirt, potholes filled with water and cars splattered with mud and dirt. A good number of electric poles on this street has the campaign posters of Mr Larry, the other presidential candidate. The woman is followed closely by the lanky professor.

 Prof:          Where are we going? Why did you suggest that we follow here?

Mrs Ayo:       Yes oh, we are going somewhere. You know how serious I am. I don’t want us to  waste time. Today, our party would love us to begin working on our campaign strategy. I don’t want fail this one. Long time ago, I have been showing my great support to my husband, and now I do not want to be seen as falling short of what is expected of me.

Prof:           That is true. I respect your husband and you; you know I do not like politics, even though I am an expert in terms of the book knowledge. Anyhow you want us to plan it, I am in. I cannot just depend on your husband alone, I also need to see and hear your own side of the tips to show I am a top person job.

Mrs Ayo:       It’s true. You said a really deep truth. But I have told you can come join our party, we would treat you well. Now that my husband wants to enter the seat, there will be better things coming. There will be jobs. Agriculture will boom. Hospitals will work. Mr Jay get good heart.

Prof:           Who does not have good heart? Even the people in Mr Larry campaign group states that he has good heart. We have to get something that the other campaign group do not have to make us different; to put us at a higher echelon than the others. By the way, you know I am a professor, I cannot come and be open in politics.

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Mrs Ayo:      (giggles). My husband would different. He is tested and trusted.

Prof:             So now you fully support your husband? The other day you were speaking against him in his presence. You try in selling your candidate. Now,  it is time for us to work harder to show the people that your husband is really out to do what the people want.

Mrs Ayo:      My prof, it is true. We have to go faster and work harder. (She drops the handbag from where she was holding it and take it by the hand and they begin to walk faster).

Prof:         We would really need to work faster.

Mrs Ayo:       Yes, we would have to do that. You should not mind my husband sometimes. Just do it as a favour to him, because I am sure he would fuck up one day and get you really mad. (She continues walking down the street. The camera moves away from them slowly until they become a little).

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Scene 3

INT/DAY

A fat man (Mr Ayo) in suit enters a large hall filled with cameras. The hall is round and very large; it is illuminated with a lot of white lights. He walks from the back room, where he enters, to a stage where a lean lectern stands. The lanky prof follows him, as the Mr Ayo stands behind the lectern, the lanky man stands close to the wall of the stage.

Mr Ayo: (he speaks slowly, his eyes focused on the many cameras pointing at him. The cameras are unmanned). Good day ladies and gentlemen. I’m honoured to be here with you today. I must say, I nearly tripped when I was walking to this stage because of how excited I was. (He Laughs. He looks at the cameras, and becomes anxious. Begins to stutter.) To … to …. today,  I has come to meet you as …as … as my campaign was rounding off.

Prof:      (Walks towards Mr Ayo.)

Mr Ayo:  You’re so dear to me, dear pupils.

Prof:       (Touches Mr Ayo‘s shoulder and whispers.) Sir, listen to the recording that’s being played on      your earpiece. You’re making some grammatical blunders.

Mr Ayo:   (Takes his mouth off the microphone and whispers.) I get it under control.

Prof:        Sir, we’re almost done with this campaign, please don’t let your grammatical blunder    bastardize our tranquil ascension to the great throne, because ….

Mr Ayo:    I get it under control, don’t disturb me!

Prof:        (Bows and returns to where he stands.)

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Mr Ayo:  (Hisses, clears his throat and draws close to the microphone.) Sorry for the distraction. As you all know, I was going for the office of the president, and I has all I would do in my heart and in my head. I would build a federal university in your state, I would build a federal airport and I would provide free fertilizer and I would import tractors for farmers . (He pauses. He laughs,) I knew you would all be surprised about my big plans for your state! It is to be a success this presidency I go for, and I will do lot of thing for your state. (Stammers.). Every body be happy when I am the president, I be do things for the state. The state shall know I was the president.

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Prof:        (Walks to Mr Ayo and stands beside him. Looks at the direction of the cameras). My friends, the indefatigable Ayo would do a lot for the state. We need to assuage our fears and believe in him for he will be such an indefatigable leader if elec ….

Mr Ayo:   (speaks calmly to Prof.) I say calmed down. If these people us here, you will have spoil everything for us. I does not know if you do not think at all. You prof without brain. I am sure they are angry that you come speaking for me. Am a baby? If they here, by now    A plastic bottle hit my face.I bends my head slightly and rubs the affected spot with my hand. Another bottle will have hit my head, and then another. Many plastic bottles will have begin to land all over me and the entire stage.

Prof:        (Covers his face with his hands.) What are you saying, sir? I was only trying to be of help, sir. I do not understand what you are saying. If you think so, sir, let us leave now before it escalates. They would be wondering in their homes what we have been busy discussing anyway, so let us leave. (Grunts).

Mr Ayo:   (Nods.) You be a moron, but still still, yes, yes, we should leave. (Takes in deep breath and looks at the camera one more time. Smiles.) I be do all of these and more if you vote me. For now, we are leave, and we love you. (Hurries towards the backroom, Prof trails behind.)

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Scene 4

INT/DAY

The camera comes on the empty sitting room. Mr Ayo and Prof enters the sitting room that bears the campaign posters of Mr Ayo as hand paintings on the walls of the room. The Prof goes to the TV stand and turns on the TV.  On TV,  there is crowd protesting against his presidency. The crowds are close to compound of the hall where he delivered his campaign speech to audience at home through the characters. Prof stands close to the TV for a while before he goes to take a seat. Mr Ayo continue to stare in shock.

Mr Ayo:      (Hisses.) Madness has catch this people!

Prof:           They’ve really gone mad, such a dramatic show of intolerance!

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Mr Ayo:      They shall not spoil my bus with this their madness. (He stands and watches as a half naked woman dances among the crowd on TV with a placard raised against his presidency ambition.)

Mr Ayo:      (Sits.) God has mercy on them.

Prof:           Yes, God should pity them and save the ignoramuses.

Mr Ayo:      (Hisses and places his chin on his right palm.) My ambition has fall.

Prof:           Sir, your ambition hasn’t been jeopardized by those nitwits.

Mr Ayo:      Save your grammar. I am bad for the election  already.

Prof:          Sir, don’t talk that way, you will win this election. At least, without them, you can win this election.

Mr Ayo:     (Stares at Prof angrily.) How could I?

Prof:          You can, because seventy-five percent of population of the country are behind you. This state is a small state compared to the other gigantic states. Besides, if they want to infect the mind of your supporters from other states, their too many nefarious activities in the country would make others to ignore them.

Mr Ayo:     They call me illiterate. How were you sure they will not use that to scatter me?

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Prof:          (Inhales.) They’re not the only people who know you’re barely educated. Others know that you’re barely educated. They want development, that’s why they support you. (Smiles.) Trust me, sir, I’ve a PhD Degree in Political Science, a Law Degree, Masters in International Relations, Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Psychology. I know you’ll win.

Mr Ayo:    (Frowns.) How many times will I be hearing all these your degrees?

Prof:         (Stutters.) I’m just … giving you … a break … down.

Mr Ayo:    Go and bring the TV remote for me fast fast. I want to know what is happen.

Prof:        (Stands and walk to where the TV set is and brings the remote control. He walks to where Mr Ayo is and hands the remote over to him, and then goes to his seat and sits down.)

Mr Ayo:    (Hits the remote control, trying to use it on the TV, it is not working.) Where is this remote not working? I need to watch News Update Station.

Prof:         (Stands again and walks to where Mr Ayo sits and collects the remote from him. He touches the remote here and there. He uses it here and there, and it works.)

Mr Ayo:    (Collect and lifts the remote and changes the station.) Sit down, you’re blocking!

Prof:         Alright, sir. (He walks to his seat and sits.)

Mr Ayo:    (Drops the remote and focuses his eyes on the TV). They want to give the new news of the hour. (Holds his palms together.) I pray they didn’t announce the crazy thing that happen now or my mistake during the election announcement.

Prof:       I’m certain they wouldn’t air the pandemonium that just occurred there.

Mr Ayo:  (Watches.) Can you see their subjects? Mr Abel Ayo rounded off his campaign in Mai State.

Prof:        Sir, it is called headline, and it is Mr Abel Ayo rounds off his campaign in Mai State.

Mr Ayo:   (Stares at him.) Prof, campaign is not hold now oh! No more correct!

Prof:        You need to get acclimatized to this, because  you will become the preside ….

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Mr Ayo:   Shut up!

Prof:        Yes, sir.

Mr Ayo:   Hey! This people has kill me oh! There will be an argument with Mr Larry on TV soon. How will I be fight all these battles? How should I defeat him in the argument? My enemies are totally against me oh!

Prof:       You mean the presidential debate? Oh. That one? It won’t be much for you, I will be there to guide you, sir.

Mr Ayo: Is every time you will guide me? Am I kindergarten child? It not every time I need your guide like a kindergarten child. Sometimes, I can be on my own.

Prof:       (Pauses, then focuses on the TV.) It cannot mean much. This problem we had here. Look at it even, it’s ridiculous. (Laughs lightly.) This is the doing of your opponents. However, it has never been known that bad grammar makes someone incompetent for a position. It is probably because of the bad grammar that they said you should come and have a debate. They do not want to hear about your great plans; they just really want to check out how good or bad your English is.

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Mr Ayo:  (Shouts.) Shut up!

Prof:       It cannot destroy your political plan, this debate. People will like you more now, they would see this as the doing of your opponent to crumble your ambition. However, the p;residential debate even if it comes up is still very far off. We would have the ample time to prepare for this.

Mr Ayo:  (Stands and throws the remote at Prof. Prof dodges, and the remote hits the wall of the room and scatters.) Shut up, you mad man! (Hisses.) Nonsense!

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Scene 5

INT/DAY

The very big hall for the presidential debate is empty as the debate is to be watched from home. To Mr Ayo, this hall they had used for the delivery of the campaign promises made by Prof looks really bigger than the last time.  At that moment, there are more cameras everywhere than that of the last time. The lights in the hall are more and blinding, too. The  stage at one end of the hall now had three pulpits, instead of one or two like the last time. The lights are more intense on the stage. Prof is the anchor of the debate, and he comes on the stage dressed in blue suit.

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Prof:  Our great audience at home, we welcome you  to the presidential debate of the next election by the candidates of two major parties! My name is Professor Wright Buchi. I am the anchor of this notable program our country has had over the years and before every election.  It is here that you can get all your questions about the candidates answered, and watch the presidential candidate slug it out on what and what they can offer the country. Listen carefully, note your points and throw your questions readily to them when they are done. (Pauses a bit). I implore you to welcome our presidential candidates to the stage, Mr Ayo and Mr Larry.

The two men walk to the stage from the back room. Mr Ayo tall and fat, wearing caftan. Mr Larry tall and slender, wearing a jeans trouser, T-shirt and face cap. They walk to their different lectern and wave at the direction of the cameras before turning to look at Prof.

Prof: Gentlemen, how are you doing?

Mr Larry: I am fine.

Mr Ayo: Fine as well.

Prof: All right, since you are all fine. I would love to reiterate that this is a presidential debate, one of the wrap up events before the election. It has a huge weight in determining if you would become the next president or not. As such, we have to be very civil as much as we can be. No name calling. No slandering. Just a civil exchange of thought and debate of ideas. We are good, I guess.

The two candidates nod.

Prof:    All right. The first question would be for Mr Ayo, and then same question goes to you (looks briefly at Mr Larry) after he is done with the question. (Focusing his eyes on Mr Ayo). For the viewers at home who are still getting to see you for the first time. Can you do a brief run down of who you are and what you intend to achieve when elected as a president?

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Mr Ayo: My name is Ayo Akinyemi. I am a business man and a philanthropist. I am the owner of the multinational company, Igbede. My company is into installation of solar panels, servicing of power stations and everything electrical. I started the company when I was twenty-five. It has grown to become the greatest solution to this country’s power problem. We are the first to lobby for a bill to devolve power supply and distribution in the country. With the success of the bill, we were able to introduce wind and solar forms of power generation into the country. So far, it has been a success, and through my company, the country enjoys constant electricity five more times than it used to be …

Prof: Sir, please, it would be nice if you make it shorter. Thank you. What do you intend to do when elected the president of this country?

Mr Ayo: I have great passion for this country. This has been proven through my company’s capacity to solve the power issue of the country. Aside solving the power issue, we have also rendered a great level of assistance to the country. I have built more than 100 school building, donated more than 100 beds and 5 scanning machines to different public hospitals, and gave business loans to more than 50 young entrepreneurs. In all aspects of the country that would enable us grow, I have done something there. If I am given the opportunity to serve the people, I will do more of these and improve our economy.  Thank you.

Prof: (turns to look at Mr Larry). Mr Larry, over to you …

Mr Larry: My name is Larry Obum. I am a retired civil servant, who worked for the Federal government and aged while giving in my best for the growth and development of this country. I was employed as a Federal Government worker when I was 28. However, what I was is not much of an issue. The major issue is what will I do for my people when I am elected as president. (Pauses). If I am elected as the president, I will focus on three sectors that would bring out 30% of our people from poverty. These sectors are economy, infrastructure and education through exchange program.

Prof: What do you mean by education through exchange program? Can you clarify on that?

Mr Larry: In the past, this great country did exchange programs with United Kingdom and other developed countries. It was stopped, because our people usually abscond and never want to return to our country. If I am voted in, I will improve the quality of education so much that after university education, 40% of our graduates would be competent enough to work anywhere in the world. We subsidize their studies abroad, and if they do not come back, it is still an advantage to us.

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Prof: How?

Mr Larry: They would be remitting money to the country through investments, thereby improving the economy.  For the economy …

Prof:    I think we would have to stop you here, Mr Larry. (Looks at the camera). We will go on a short break now, and we will be back shortly to continue with the debate. Send in your questions to the phone number you are seeing on your screen. When we return, we move in properly to the debate. The candidates would ask themselves questions based on their plans. We would be right back.

Mr Larry and Mr Ayo look at themselves awkwardly as the break time ticks on. Prof does not look at any of them . He continuously watches the time on his wristwatch until it was time, two minutes later.

Prof: (stares at the cameras and smiles). You are welcome back to this great debate. Right now, the candidates would do a short summary. Let me say in three sentences each of their greatest plans for the country. Mr Larry has told us a little, but we still need clarifications and questions. Over to you Mr Larry.

Mr Larry: My greatest plan is bringing 30% of the country out of poverty from the 70% that are poor now. I will do this through improving the economy, infrastructure and education.

Mr Ayo: (Angry and voice raised.) How could you do it? You don’t help anyone in your life since you working. You only hear speak speak big big grammar. I prove mine. I lift more than 10% out of poverty already. How many have you lift?

Mr Larry: (Eyes wide opened, staring at Mr Ayo.) What do you know about simple economics? You think it is to throw money around or make money with the company’s power problem. Anyone could have done what you did since it involves money. Government is not money making …

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Prof: (Looking at Mr Ayo and twinkling his eyes.) Gentlemen, I think we should make this a little more orderly.

Mr Ayo: If you does not know anything about money making, how should you make money for the government to pay workers, make life better for the people, or provide infrastructure. You talk about economics. The only thing you know is book, you no know practicals.

Mr Larry: (Looking at Prof.) Mr Anchor, this is absurd, I am finding this ridiculous. This is on a National TV for crying out loud and he cannot make proper tenses. How would he rule the country?

Prof: Gentlemen, please!

Mr Ayo: Tenses or not. We not in English class. How does you ruled a country when you no help ordinary family members? Your immediate younger brother die of hunger, how you sure that you won’t kill us with hunger? How many businesses you have start before?

Mr Larry: I worked for the government. Served in high capacities. Throughout my 25 years in service before I retired, I did not take one penny that wasn’t mine. With the little I was paid, how do you expect me to support all my brothers and sisters? Besides, that one is personal.

Mr Ayo: No personal anything. If you  not fit sustain your family economical, is it now country you would? Failure at home, failure for country …

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Prof: (Raises voice.) Gentlemen, please!

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Scene 6

INT/DAY

Mr Ayo, Mrs Ayo and Prof are sitting in Mr Jay’s sitting room watching the procedure of the election result on TV. Mr Jay and Prof sit on the edge of their seats, watching the TV intently. Mrs Jay drinks juice from a glass cup.

Mr Ayo:       This the best election in our country. You see people vote for me even with few wrong English. They know I get capacity to deliver. I believe in God, too. He helped me out, too.

Prof:  (Nods.) Yes, yes. It is not a few wrong English words, though, and we cannot say for sure how the results would turn out good, yet.

Mrs Ayo: The women voted massively this year than any other year.

Prof:       Thanks to you, Mrs Ayo, we got the votes of a lot of them. Thanks to me, too, for my own plans that worked.

Mrs Ayo: (Smiles.) I know how to speak, you know.

Mr Ayo:   And so? What do the women vote help to do? Prof, you too, is not only big big English you pass?

Prof:        (Clears throat and glances at Mrs Ayo.) The women are sixty percent of the voting population, so if they came out massively to vote, and if they voted for you, it means you’ll easily win your opponent.

Mr Ayo:  (Yawns.) I don’t agree. It is when the results are release, we know.

Prof:       (Glances at Mrs Ayo.) Your wife is a good speaker—an emotional and persuasive speaker. She was able to go around the country on her own to talk to women. She easily identified with the women and uplifted their spirits. There is no other opponent whose wife worked as Mrs Ayo did.

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Mr Ayo:   Let the result be announce first.

Mrs Ayo: (Frowns and drops the glass cup on the centre table.) At least you’re leading in five out of the ten states that has been called.

Mr Ayo:   Let the full result be announce first.

Prof:        There are two states that haven’t been called, and these states have high voting power. I’m certain that you’ll win in these states.

Mr Ayo:   (Hisses.) You two shall keep quiet let us watch this!

Prof:        Yes, sir!

Mrs Ayo: (Stands and begins to walk away, still frowning.)

Prof:         Henrietta, please don’t leave, you’ve worked hard for this.

Mrs Ayo:  (Turns.) You can watch the victory with my husband, it’s his victory, not mine. I will always forgive him, because most times he does not know what he is doing.  (Exits.)

Prof:       (Sits and watches the TV for some minutes. Looks at Mr Jay, looks at the TV and clears his throat.) Sir, what you did is lugubrious and an outright disrespect for womanhood.

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Mr Ayo:   You say? (Stands, still watching the TV.)

Prof:       (Stands.) I said what you did ….

Mr Ayo:  (Shouts.) I win, I win, I win! (Throws his arms in the air and begins to dance.) I’m winner. I’m winner. (Stops dancing. Laughs.)

Prof:      (Stares at the TV.) You’ve won, finally.

Mr Ayo:  Yes, yes, I has win. (Exhales and collapses on the sofa.) Yes, I has win. (Looks at Prof.) What was you saying?

Prof:       (Shakes his head.) I didn’t say any word.

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Mr Ayo:  How can you stay there and tell me you don’t say any word? As you can see, I win. Now, how do I ruled the country?

Prof:        Sir, it is rule, not ruled.

Mr Jay:   Whatever!

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