(After an on-camera handshake at the UN Plaza Hotel and traditional boilerplate statements from Joe Biden and, later, Bola Tinubu, where the two presidents expressed their desires to continue and advance the age-long commitment to building on their two countries' shared values… with a mandatory mention of protecting and preserving democracy and democratic ideals across the West African sub-region, strengthening securities and advancing economic growth and prosperity for "our peoples," the handlers of the US President dismissed the media and the two leaders went into a closed-door meeting with just two aides... and that was when this imagined conversation followed.)
Joe Biden: Mr. President, thank you for coming.
Bola Tinubu: My pleasure, sir.
Joe Biden: You were the only African leader I looked forward to meeting at this UN General Assembly.
Bola Tinubu: Why did you leave me hanging alone in India at the G-20?
Joe Biden: Not at all. I love that your sister, the president-general of the World Trade Organization. What's her name again?
Bola Tinubu: She is not my sister. She is just another Nigerian.
Joe Biden: Alright, man. But she is fantastic. I always love the colors of her dress. They brighten every event I see her at. In fact, her colors and smile draw me to her the way sweet nectar and pollens draw a butterfly to flowers.
Bola Tinubu: Why were you looking forward to meeting me, sir?
Joe Biden: Because your bio that my aides gave me was fascinating. It says that you attended the Chicago State University in the 1970s.
Bola Tinubu: Yes, I did.
Joe Biden: What year did you graduate?
Bola Tinubu: 1979, even though the register of the school made a mistake and the devil helped it by omitting…(incomprehensible)
Joe Biden: I attended the infamous 1968 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago. As a young senator, I was also at Chicago University to investigate fraud in the 70s.
Bola Tinubu: Did you say, fraud?
Joe Biden: Yes.
Bola Tinubu: Wow!
Joe Biden: Why?
Bola Tinubu: Nothing. Nothing. Nothing at all.
Joe Biden: It's been a long time. I don't recall the details.
Bola Tinubu: Thank God. I mean, what a pity!
Joe Biden: We are having our 2024 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. I hope it brings me good luck and a second term in office.
Bola Tinubu: I will come if you invite me.
Joe Biden: No. We don't involve foreigners in our elections.
Bola Tinubu: But I'm not a foreigner.
Joe Biden: I beg your pardon.
Bola Tinubu: I mean, the US political process is not foreign to me.
Joe Biden: I see.
Bola Tinubu: Yeah!
Joe Biden: So, tell me, my friend. What are you going to do about Niger? We have important assets in that country. We don't want to lose them to those ragtag boys.
Bola Tinubu: I know.
Joe Biden: Like Niger, you are an essential asset to us in Nigeria and the West African sub-region.
Bola Tinubu: I know that, too.
Joe Biden: So, what is it gonna be? This is a fucking big deal to America. The United States cannot compromise on the gas pipeline to Europe, the Niger-based drone program, and the CIA networks in West Africa.
Bola Tinubu: I understand that very well.
Joe Biden: So, what is it gonna take for you to take action?
Bola Tinubu: You must stop the fishing expedition going on in Chicago.
Joe Biden: You mean the lawsuit by that guy? What is his name again?
Bola Tinubu: Atiku Abubakar.
Joe Biden: Yes. Do we have anything on him?
Bola Tinubu: Oh, a lot. Remember the monkey business between Atiku and the former House of Representative member, William Jefferson of Louisiana.
Joe Biden: Yeah. Now, I remember. You are talking about the guy who forfeited $460,000 to the Justice Department because of some drugs found in his refrigerator by the FBI.
Bola Tinubu: No, Joe. You are mixing things up. William Jefferson collected $100,000 from an FBI agent, Lori Mody, in a parking lot. He was going to bribe Atiku with the money to secure a contract for a telecommunication company he had an interest in. Two days later, the FBI raided Jefferson's home in Virginia and found $90,000 in his freezer.
Joe Biden: What happened to the remaining $10,000? Did the FBI find it?
Bola Tinubu: That is not the point of the story, Joe.
Joe Biden: So, what is the point? Is this Atiku of a guy the one looking for the missing $460,000 in Chicago?
Bola Tinubu: No, he is hunting for Hunter's laptop.
Joe Biden: Wait a minute! You are getting me more confused.
Bola Tinubu: He is turning around rocks and leaves, looking for things that are not looking for him in Chicago.
Joe Biden: Wait, let me look at my notes again. (He glances through his notes.) I can see that our people have already said we would not release the contents of your Department of Justice files until 2026. That is a fucking big deal. It should reassure you of our commitment to protect your interest.
Bola Tinubu: That was before.
Joe Biden: What do you mean before?
Bola Tinubu: They now said they would release everything in October.
Joe Biden: What do you mean everything?
Bola Tinubu: 2,500 documents about my life in America. You cannot let that happen.
Joe Biden: Don't make me laugh.
Bola Tinubu: What do you mean?
Joe Biden: If I cannot do anything to save my son, Hunter, what makes you think I can save you black a... behind?
Bola Tinubu: What about the court case? Can't you make it go away?
Joe Biden: What are you offering us?
Bola Tinubu: But I'm following to the letter, the script on Niger.
Joe Biden: Yeah. But we've paid for that already.
Bola Tinubu: How?
Joe Biden: With the 2026 assurance of the Justice Department's embargo on what you did in Chicago in the summer of 1979.
Bola Tinubu: Joe, I want the Chicago fishing expedition to go away.
Joe Biden: I cannot make that happen.
Bola Tinubu: What do you mean you cannot? You are the president.
Joe Biden: Yes.
Bola Tinubu: You are the most powerful man in the world.
Joe Biden: Yes.
Bola Tinubu: So, why can't you do that?
Joe Biden: I just can't because of how our constitution was structured. There is a distance between the Presidency and the Justice Department.
Bola Tinubu: Why? Why? Why?
Joe Biden: Why, what?
Bola Tinubu: Why can't you do the things that Trump did quickly and efficiently?
Joe Biden: You can see where those kinds of things got him.
Bola Tinubu: You are just weak. Just admit it. You are a sissy.
Joe Biden: You think if I can do it, I will not save my son, Hunter?
Bola Tinubu: What I've learned in politics is that most times, you have to fight for it, snatch it, grab it, and run away with it. You don't wait for them to give it to you. You don't know that you can do it until you try it.
Joe Biden: That is just Trumpism, fair and square. Count me out.
Bola Tinubu: Well, you may count me out also from Niger, the pipeline to Europe, and the drone base.
Joe Biden: Really?
Bola Tinubu: As a matter of fact, I may seriously consider taking Nigeria into BRICS.
Joe Biden: I don't think you want to pull that stunt with us.
Bola Tinubu: Don’t try me. Don't forget that I came out of NADECO.
Joe Biden: What's NADECO?
Bola Tinubu: It’s not important. Just know that I'm a veteran of numerous fights.
(Biden's aide whispers something into his ear.)
Joe Biden: My friend, Trump has made a mess of America's political process, and I am trying to put it back together.
Bola Tinubu: I know. I can see it from Nigeria.
Joe Biden: We don't want the rest of the world to think that the way Trump did things is how things are supposed to go in a democracy.
Bola Tinubu: Quite true.
Joe Biden: One old African leader once told me that an election should not be a "do-or-die affair." If you lose, you try again.
Bola Tinubu: That’s what I told Peter Obi.
Joe Biden: Who is Peter Obi?
Bola Tinubu: He is not important. I mean to say, Atiku Abubakar.
Joe Biden: Is that your roommate in Chicago?
Bola Tinubu: No, the man fishing for dirt at Chicago State University.
Joe Biden: Wait a minute! I think I saw something like that on the note my people gave me. Let me take a look. (He glances at his notes again.)
Bola Tinubu: Can I see what is there?
Joe Biden: Sorry, it is top secret.
Bola Tinubu: Please declassify it and show me.
Joe Biden: Now?
Bola Tinubu: Yes.
Joe Biden: I can't.
Bola Tinubu: Why not?
Joe Biden: There is a process to follow before declassifying a document.
Bola Tinubu: But you are the president.
Joe Biden: Yes.
Bola Tinubu: You are the process.
Joe Biden: No. One man can never be a process.
Bola Tinubu: But Trump did it.
Joe Biden: Houston, we have a problem.
Bola Tinubu: Who is Houston, and what's the problem?
Joe Biden: Never mind. So what is it going to be?
Bola Tinubu: When the dog appears, the gong shall appear too.
Joe Biden: You're playing hardball, eh?
Bola Tinubu: Call it what you want, Joe. I have to save my behind.
Joe Biden: I see.
Bola Tinubu: Yes.
Joe Biden: All you Africans are lucky.
Bola Tinubu: How?
Joe Biden: Because America is not Russia, and American presidents, except for Trump, are not like Putin, that you all are running to embrace.
Bola Tinubu: What is wrong with Putin?
Joe Biden: Remember Prigozhin.
Bola Tinubu: Prigozhin? But the man betrayed Putin.
Joe Biden: You can say that again. This time, look yourself in the mirror as you do so.
Bola Tinubu: (after a few minutes delay). Oh, I get it now. Forget about what I said before. We've got a deal.
Joe Biden: Great. It was nice meeting you, President Bola Tinubu. Good evening. (Biden sakes Tinubu's hand as protocol officer leads Tinubu out as another African president walks in).
Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo teaches Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is also the host of Dr. Damages Show. His books include "This American Life Sef" and "Children of a Retired God," among others. His upcoming book is called "Why I'm Disappointed in Jesus."