Colours of Love: The Memoirs of the Luckiest Nigerian President.

Laurel Atherton said, "a daughter is one of the most BEAUTIFUL gifts this world has to give" and I agree wholeheartedly, but what happens when the world gives you a daughter that isn't yours?

I was born in 1995 to a family of strict, Christian, Nigerian parents. I was taught discipline from the most basic of things like making my bed, to the complicated stuff like not giving up in the face of adversity. "Hakeem, all you need is a nevertheless attitude, and you can be anything you want" my mother would always say.

I was the ideal child growing up; the kind of child that you could leave on a bench at a park, order me not to move, come back in three days and I'd still be there. My sister, Mariam always called me a well-trained seal. Being a brilliant and studious child, I got my bachelor's in Economics at the age of 21. University wasn't the same for me as it was for my peers; I spent my days schooling and my nights acquiring a few skills. On the one hand, I'd like to think that I was that serious about life and on the other hand, I think I was too much of an introvert.

I guess my love for Nigeria was the strongest emotion I felt at the time. At some point, I even thought I bled green and white. Four years went by fast, and I graduated with a first class in economics and a fail in social skills. I had spent four years studying and getting my life together that I forgot I hadn't learned any social skills. Didn't take long for me to leave for my master's degree in African history at the Addis Ababa University. It took a year, and I came out with a distinction at the age of 22, I was the ideal child for my parents, and I could see how proud they were at my graduation.

The compulsory national youth service is where my life changed, spending four years for my bachelors as a nerd made it seem like there were no girls interested in me. Don't get me wrong, I was good looking, and I had a few flings here and there but nothing serious. The bad and beautiful girls were with cool, better-looking boys and the good and beautiful girls were always drooling after the hot, bad and rich boys. The camp wasn't any different; it was like a sixth law of nature. I would find a girl I like; she would see a guy she wants, and I'd have no choice but to watch their relationship from the friend zone.

My relationship with Ada was different; she was by all standards the most gorgeous, outstanding and friendly girl I ever met.  She was the kind of girl that could light a room just by stepping into it. I met Ada on the first day of camp, and even though we didn't speak that day, I somehow knew in my bones that she was going to play a significant role in my life. A week and a few days into camp, I met her again while we were jogging and this time, I didn't take my eyes off her, literally. I watched and followed her like a GPS, and when we were done, I made the brave move to say hi. At first, she was a bit icy; her parents probably told her not to talk to strangers, and so she had a wall around her, but the walls didn't stay up that long, we clicked after 10 minutes of conversation.

The camp lasted three weeks, and that is how long it took me to fall for Ada. I don't mean the "I'm seeing you now, so I like you" kind of fall. I mean "Even if we go to the ends of the earth, I'll never stop trying to be in your life". That's what I told her on the last day of camp. There was an end-of-camp party and being introverts, we left early to take a stroll, and while walking and bonding, a shooting star flew right above us. Of course, I knew what it was but she didn't, at first and so she got scared, it was the second most important event in my life. The most significant was four weeks later when she told me that she was pregnant.

Ada and I were two peas in a pod, One look at us and you could see that we were meant to be. So, it came as a surprise when she told me that she was pregnant. We had been unofficially together for a while, I didn't see the need to ask her to be my girlfriend, and so I assumed she wasn't seeing anyone. That day, we were having lunch, and I could see that she wasn't giving off her natural glow. So I asked and persisted until she finally told me. "I have a friend who just told me she's pregnant... my friend is me, and I am my friend", she said. She had a weird way of communicating.

And to my surprise, I said: "how can I help?"  She went on about how she couldn't raise a child with the father, and then she said "don't give up on me, Hakeem. You're all I've got". She called it a mistake but thinking about it now; I can see the hand of God. We decided to stick together, and I promised not to leave her because I knew deep in my heart that nothing would separate us, except death. I called my father later that evening, and I told him that I had a girlfriend and that she was pregnant. Furious as expected, he didn't bother asking if the baby was mine or not, he dropped the call, and we didn't speak for 20 years.

Everyone else assumed that the pregnancy was mine and I didn't bother to correct them. Ada and I went on to live together, as I started my business. Baby Irene was born on April 12th, and I had never seen a more beautiful person. My heart melted, and my eyes fluttered at the sight of her. She was the spitting image of her mother. We went home that week, and I married Ada the next week. The business was doing great, we had one more child, and we never told Irene or anybody the truth. The only people that knew that Irene wasn't my biological child were my wife and me.

Twenty years passed and my business was doing quite well, but I had shelved my political ambition. Everything changed when I was invited to speak on a panel about governance and entrepreneurship. A fellow panellist had said a dumb thing and having a sharp mouth; I decided to educate him. I did so well that the video of me trended and had people calling for my candidacy. I had a weak support base and no party, and if I ran, it would be as an independent candidate. I talked it over with my wife, and she said: "You always wanted to lead our country, maybe this is the time to see if the electorates want someone intelligent, what's there to lose?" That was all I needed, I was wealthy, happy and I had the support of my family. I declared to run for the presidency six months to elections.

I wasn't the most supported candidate, but soon, everyone turned to me. My philanthropic works and integrity helped. The voters had grown in literacy and voted based on character and competence. And then out of the blue, about two weeks to the elections, I got a call from a man who threatened to expose the secret surrounding my daughter's biological father if I didn't drop out of the race in 3 days. How he found out, I don't know. At that point, I had a 40% chance of winning, and I wasn't ready to put my family through any scrutiny so I told my wife I'd drop out in two days.

Ada tried to stop me, but my love for Irene wouldn't let me risk it. I had a well-prepared speech, and I was on my way to a press conference. I got a call from my sister, Mariam and she congratulated me on my victory. I was confused until my campaign manager showed me a video of my Irene campaigning for me. She beat me to the press conference and told the world of how I sacrificed almost everything for her and Ada, how I was willing to sacrifice more to keep her safe and how it had been my dream to lead Nigeria for 25 years. She ended the speech with "A man with that much love, deserves to be our president." I had my press conference alright, but it was to reiterate my commitment to Nigeria. I won the elections with the highest voter turn out and most significant margin in Nigerian history.

Thinking it about it now, I can see that my greatest gift was Irene. She may not have been my biological daughter, but she was the gift that gave me the second best gift I ever received.

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