A Man of the People is a first-person account of Odili, a school teacher in a fictional country closely resembling post-colonial Nigeria. Odili receives an invitation from a former teacher of his, Chief Nanga, who is now the powerful but corrupt Minister of Culture. As Minister, Nanga’s job is to protect the traditions of his country, and though he is known as “A Man of the People,” he instead uses his position to increase his personal wealth. The Minister’s riches and power prove particularly impressive to Odili’s girlfriend, who cheats on him with the minister. Seeking revenge, Odili begins to pursue the minister’s fiancee.
Odili agrees to lead an opposition party in the face of both bribes and violent threats. Athough his party fails, in some sense Odili triumphs over the Minister when a military coup forces his old teacher from office