It’s amazing how you can be afraid of someone without exactly knowing why – but you dare not try to find out.
That was the kind of fear all the house officers had for Colonel Bankole. You just didn’t try to disobey him, period.
Col. Bankole was a Military Doctor, a specialist surgeon.
He had a lean physique, with a well groomed moustache that would make even the legendary Hercule Poirot green with envy, his uniform was always well starched with the creases in perfect alignment as if on attention; his army beret perched perfectly at an angle as if in a constant salute of its own.
The most intriguing aspect of Col. Bankole’s dressing was his writing pens: He had about five different pens, all neatly aligned in his breast pocket below his army badge; each with a different ink colour, each with a different function. He had them all – green, black, red, one was even a stamp. It was a delight to watch him select the pen he wanted to use for a particular function, signing or writing.
Col. Bankole never took any nonsense; you had to have reviewed and made a summary of your patients before 0800 hours (8 a.m). Col Bankole arrived for his ward round at 8 a.m – not 7:59am and not 8:01am.
Col. Bankole walked briskly, it was a common sight to see house officers with their stethoscopes and papers flying, running, trying to keep up with him. But by far the most peculiar thing about Col. B was his car. It was a tiny open air vehicle, with just enough room to fit his frame, smaller than any other vehicle in the hospital, probably a well kept relic from days of colonialism.
It was 8: 30am and Col. B hadn’t been seen for his ward round, all the house-officers were confused, this was unlike him. What could have happened? They all continued reviewing their patients’ notes.
Suddenly, there were shouts and shuffling feet, soldiers could be seen running helter-skelter, loud shouts and commands renting the air.
“You! Doctors! What are you doing? Return to your quarters immediately! A stern looking corporal bellowed. The doctors didn’t need any further prodding, with white coats flailing and stethoscopes swinging, they scurried to their quarters. Along the way they saw trucks fill with heavily armed soldiers.
What was going on?
As they got into their quarters they heard a loud explosion in the distance followed by rounds of gunfire. They all scampered to their common room and locked the door.
Dr Adah, the youngest of the doctors couldn’t take it any longer, she was shaking like a fish out of water, her palms were wet and she was crying.
“ I was warned not to work in a military hospital, I was warned, but I didn’t take heed.” She whimpered, tears streaming down her face. None of the other doctors could comfort her as they all scampered to different corners wondering what doom awaited them.
For what seemed like ages they sat huddled in their common room not daring to breathe, until Dr Hassan, the oldest stood up.
“Do we sit like this until we die?” He asked. No one replied.
“Let’s put on the radio, we may hear something about what’s going on.” He continued.
He turned towards the radio they hardly used and flicked on the switch.
The music was so loud, they all winced. He hurriedly turned down the volume.
Just then they heard a voice that made them jump in their skin.
“…Fellow countrymen, I Colonel Adam Bankole of the Nigerian Army Medical Corps hereby declare that the government of General Louis Alli is hereby dissolved with immediate effect as well as all federal executive council and National council of states.”
“All airports and seaports are hereby closed.”
“All borders will remain closed till further notice.”
The doctors turned to each other, all their mouths were wide open.
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