Sunday evening, Bunmi laid on Collins’ bed, her head on his laps a-s the latter sat on the bed, his back on the wall.
“A penny for your thought?” Bunmi asked as she hit Collins playfully on the stomach.
“I’m just thinking about us.” Collins replied.
Bunmi snugged even closer to him. She was excited at the mere thought of him thinking about them. “What were you thinking about us?” She asked.
“Everything.” Collins replied after almost a minute of
trying to come up with something.
Bunmi stared at him for a while. “You lied. Tell me what you are thinking about.”
“Its nothing much, I’ll be fine.” Collins replied.
“And that hurt my feelings. I tell you everything, you should do the same.”
“You didn’t tell me what ensued between you and Tony, neither did you tell me the reason we left the party abruptly. So, how come you said you tell me everything?” Collins replied.
“You didn’t ask me that was why. And moreso, nothing really happened, except that Tony did what every man would do at the sight of anything in skirt.” She explained. “Now tell me yours.”
“Baby, I’ll tell you, but I need to establish how true it is. It has to do with the company and how it is being run.
The report is on your table, you’ll see it tomorrow.” Collins replied as he stood up and walked towards the window.
“Is it very bad? The company is not in trouble right?” She asked.
“It depends on your interpretation, but whatever happens, past production and finance managers must be probed.” Collins replied.
“Let me read the report first. Remember, work stays in office.”
Silence enveloped the room for a while until voices of over ten people could be heard at the same time.
“Your neighbours are fighting again.” Bunmi said.
“I’m used to their fights.” Collins replied.
“They almost killed me yesterday. Especially when I went to the kitchen, the called me to settle the dispute. At a point, they almost turned everything on me, as if na me cause the fight.” Collins bursted into laughter. “Everytime they ask for
your opinion just run away. I was a chief mediator when I first moved in, but after a while, I learnt my lessons.” He replied.
“More reason why you should move out and get apartment in a good environment.” Bunmi said.
“That’s in my plan, but I need to save up.” Collins replied.
“How about if I….” Bunmi was saying and as if Collins knew what she wanted to say, he cuts in.
“Don’t bother. I’ll fix myself.” He said.
“Come on, I knew you won’t accept, but I meant if I lend you the money. You can pay back when you have enough.”
“I know you Bunmi. You won’t collect it back. I’ll just stay put until I have enough.” Collins replied.
“Only God can help you. Your defiance and stubborness is first class. You won’t collect anything from me, why then are we dating if we can’t help each other?” Bunmi lamented.
Collins only smiled.
“I should go home o. I’ve spent the whole weekend with you. Work resumes tomorrow.”She announced as she stood up. “You will drive me, then come in to tell dad I spent the weekend with you to convince him I didn’t attend Tony Brown’s party.”
“Only God will forgive you. But, I still believed dad has his reasons for not wanting you to attend the party.” Collins replied as he grabbed a shirt.
“Why didn’t you tell me this before we went? We are both sinners darling.” Bunmi laughed. “You will bring the car back here.” She added.
“Why?” Collins asked.
“To ease your transport stress every morning.” She replied.
“How then will you get to work tomorrow?” He asked.
“Dad’s car will come in handy.” She replied.
“No. Pick me up tomorrow.” Collins replied.
“It makes no difference.” She tried making a protest.
“Huge difference my dear.” He said.
Bunmi shook her head as she followed her boyfriend
out of his one room apartment.
The atmosphere inside SJC as Collins drove in through the gate was stuffy and suffocating. Workers were standing in twos and threes discussing.
“What’s going on?” Bunmi asked after noticing the unusual sight.
“I don’t know.” Collins replied as he brought the car to a halt but Bunmi was half listening.
“Dad is even around. He never said he would be coming today.” Bunmi almost screamed. “Something is definitely wrong.” She added as she alighted, grabbed her handbag and tablet bag and ran off into the building.
Collins shrugged as he released himself of the seat belt and got down.
“Good morning sir.” The valet greeted.
“Good morning, the key is inside.” Collins replied as he proceeded into his office, while the valet drove the car to the official parking lot.
“Good morning ma’am.” Her secretary greeted as she walked into her office.
“Good morning Tomi.” Bunmi replied ash proceeded to the door tagged PRESIDENT
“Excuse me ma, the CEO would like to see you.” Tomi, her secretary informed.
“Where is he?” Bunmi asked.
“His office.” Tomi replied.
“Okay, I will see him.”
“No, he said immediately.” Tomi said.
Bunmi stood in confusion as she weighed her chances.
“Fine, put my bags inside.” She said dropping her bags on the secretary’s table. “Send in my to-do list for today and whatever assignment I have at eleven, cancel it and fix a meeting with HR.” Bunmi instructed as she walked out of the office, headed for her father’s office.
INSIDE THE CEO’S OFFICE
Bunmi sat on the couch in the mini living room while San Jose stood in front of her.
“Tell me, what happened here on Saturday.” He requested.
“Dad, I wasn’t around on Saturday.” Bunmi replied.
“Where were you? Why didn’t you come to work on Saturday? Who did you put in charge in your absence?”
“Dad! Why all the questions?” Bunmi asked. “I was absent because I was feeling somehow, and normally the Vice president is in charge.” She replied.
“You think the vice president was in charge, but your boyfriend elected himself to control affairs in your absence, thereby ruining things that we have worked for over years.” San Jose replied.
“Dad, who told you all these? You know it is impossible for Collins to do that. Even though he has been impressive since he joined us, that doesn’t mean he is the next in line to run the affairs.” Bunmi replied.
“But, he has been attacking everybody. And he is your boyfriend, what do you expect?”
“No dad. No one knew we are dating and moreso, he has been attacking those who are not working as expected.” Bunmi defended.
“I know you will defend him, now look at this.” Her father said as he dropped two letters on the table in front of her.
Bunmi picked up the letter and read through, instantly, she was covered with sweat.
“Can you see that, the two major shareholders are pulling out for the meantime until we can guarantee them of not being ridiculed, and Ola, our best Finance manager has labelled complaints on our new production manager. What does that tell you?” San Jose asked, now visibly angry.
“No dad, this is all conspiracy and blackmail…” Bunmi defended.
“Shut up. Have you checked your mail, Collins literally took over the presentation on Saturday. And moreso, there wasn’t supposed to be a presentation on Saturday, how come?”
“Dad, I fixed the presentation to Friday because of its importance, it has to do with the salary review of the staffs among other things.” Bunmi replied.
“Is Collins now the welfare manager? How is he so sympathetic to the worker’s welfare, are they complaining?” San Jose asked.
“Dad, he controls 40% of the total staffs, he controls the department that generates income, he can complain if they are not getting enough.” Bunmi replied.
“Listen to me Bunmi, let’s call a spade a spade. Collins is overstepping his boundaries and this is because you are backing him blindly. He is brilliant, agreed, but he doesn’t know all.” San Jose spoke calmly.
“No dad. Whoever gave you the report didn’t tell you the truth, even though I haven’t gone through the report as well.” Bunmi replied.
“You see, you’ve not seen the report and you are defending him.” San Jose laughed. “You will have to choose one between me, this company and your
Collins.” San Jose walked towards the intercom and pressed a digit.
“What are you doing?” Bunmi asked.
“I want his presence here.” He replied.
“Dad, please don’t act on what you heard. It will be bad if you attack Collins without hearing his own side.” Bunmi pleaded for the umpteenth time, even though before her father could reply, a knock interrupted him, and after being asked to come in. Moments later, Collins walked into the office.
“Good morning sir.” Collins greeted the CEO politely.
He flashed a smile at Bunmi who nervously returned the smile.
“I sent for you.” San Jose said as he returned to his desk. “Sit down.” He instructed.
“Thank you sir.” Collins said as he sat down beside Bunmi.
A minute of silence followed as San Jose worked on his computer and the ticking sound of the clock were the only sound audible.
“Collins, you started working here when?” San Jose asked.
“A little over a week ago sir.” Collins replied as he braced himself for whatever was to come.
“And what is the description of your job?” San Jose asked.
“The Production department sir. As the prodcution manager.” He replied.
Bunmi who knew where the conversation could be heading to quickly came in. “Dad, this is unecessary. Just give him your message.”
“Remain quiet there young lady or excuse us. This is what we call boys talk.” Her father scolded almost immediately.
“I’m sorry.” She quickly apologized.
“Collins, I know how important you are to Bunmi and this company, but I am a man of integrity. I do not celebrate mediocrity, neither am I a hypocrite. I scold when the need arises and I commend when you impress me.” San Jose explained. “You are like a son to me. And even if you leave SJC today, how would you fair in another company? I only want the best for you.”
“I understand sir.” Collins replied.
“The company is currently in a turmoil and I’m afraid you are the cause of it. Firstly, our two major shareholders are pulling out their twenty percent and one of our best hands is threatening to resign.” San Jose explained. “I don’t know if Bunmi sent you to checkmate them, but whatever it is, I think your presentation on Saturday attacked personality instead of issues.”
Collins still listened attentively as the CEO spoke.
“First, I learnt you started a move for increment of salaries, then you stated on Friday that the company must be restructured, and lastly, you started beaming your flashlight into financial reports of the past years which is a clear violation of our code of conduct.”
Collins stood up to enable him have a clearer view of San Jose.
“With due respect sir, I know I may truly have violated the rules, because I haven’t read through the rules, but sir, correct me if I’m wrong. I have been working according to my job description since I came here.” Collins began. “Firstly, the salary review point I raised is not targeted at all the staff but the factory workers. I understand I am not the welfare manager, but I am the production manager, over 35% percent of the total
staffs are in the department. Their welfare is up to me and since the welfare department hasn’t seen the need to review the salaries, I felt I should wake them. I mean, these people earn less than twenty thousand every month and dividing that by thirty, they are living on less than two dollars. How does it sound if a forty year old family man is earning six hundred naira per day? On this we need a review.” Collins explained. “On the issue of restructuring the company, that is up to the management and not me. What I said was restructuring the production department which will in turn affect th company positively in the long run. It is no news that the company is been run with money, and if we can maximize production coupled with sales, the company would benefit.” He continued. “And lastly, I am not the finance manager, but I work for the finance manager. My department produces what the sales department sells and the finance department records. Now, it is within the description of my job if I try to know how much the company is making from what I produce. And on the issue of attacking personalities, Mr Ola got me wrong.”
“Go on.” San Jose urged.
“I have met and discussed with every head of departments, but Mr Ola refused to honor my invite. The reason behind asking to meet them is to understand the working relationship existing between the departments and also to get reports and understand how each department affects the production unit. Seeing that Mr Ola is not willing to work with me, I decided to go into the book of account and know what is on ground.” Collins paused, took a deep breathe and continued. “For the records Mr Chairman sir, economic reports of the United Nations told us that by 2020, every country depending on latex products will suffer an economic decline and also, the demand for locally made sugar will fall. And by that 2020, textile and fashion industry will grow tremendously and the furniture or timber industry will be a front runner.” “I believe we don’t need to wait until the fall in these industries before we act. By the statistics with me, the sugar mill is incuring a debt of 150% of what it is gaining at the end of the year. That is, if profit is at 1million naira, debt is at 2.5million and removing loss of profit, we have a deficit of 1.5million. Sir, we need an upward review. A cost reflective sale should be implemented. The sugar mill should stand on its own, the plastic industry should be alone, textile should make enough money to pay its workers salary. We shouldn’t run the company as a whole with profits made from Furniture and textile while the sugar mill continues to wallow in debt which in the last decade has run into billions of naira.” Collins paused.
San Jose stared at the young man for a while, cleared his throat and spoke. “You can go.”
“Sir?” Collins asked.
“You are free to return to your office. Thank you for your time.” San Jose repeated.
“Okay sir.” Collins bowed slightly and exited the office.
“Now what?” Bunmi asked. “You are not sacking him are you? Obviously, he made cool points.”
“He is more brilliant than I thought. He understood business, despite being a graduate of Chemistry.” San Jose laughed.
“You see now dad, I will pick Collins first anyday. His brain and brilliance is what we need to move forward.
Dad, give him the free hand to checkmate every activity within the company.” Bunmi pleaded.
“You are in charge, you are the president. Do whatever is right.” San Jose replied.
“Thank you daddy. But, you owe me one, considering the fact that you asked me, a grown up to shut up.” She said amidst laughter.
“Send memos to the board of directors. A lunch meeting should be set up.” San Jose instructed. “Invite Collins.” He added.
Bunmi stopped in her tracks. “Invite Collins to the boardroom? What is dad playing at?” She thought.
“I’ll do just that.” She replied as she walked out.
Its been two weeks and everything was going fine at SJC for Collins who is now treated like a hero of some sort or better still revered and feared by his colleagues who believed he is witch hunting them for their wrong doings.
Clement walked the distance from his office to the furniture factory, and just outside the very big building where various furnitures are being made, a guard gave
him a helmet which he put on his head, after which he signed attendance, only then was he allowed into the factory.
One of the solutions he had proferred at the board meeting weeks ago was accountability and responsibility. Which is why, there is nowhere any staff can enter without having to sign a register to confirm that he/she was there at that particular time, making him or her accountable and responsible for any occurence within that timeframe.
“Weldone.” He greeted a few guys who were sowing upholstries at a side of the factory. He walked deeper into the factory and supervised for a couple of minutes until he recieved a call demanding his presence at the president’s office. As he rushed out of factory, he bumped into Rukayat who almost fell down if not for Collin’s quick intervention as he held her tight against himself until she was steady enough.
“That felt good.” She remarked.
“What?” Collins asked.
“The way you held me. You sure know how to hold a woman, no wonder Bunmi fell for you.” She winked.
Of all the staffs at SJC whom he had conversed with outside official duty, only Rukayat and Ola, the finance manager call Bunmi by her first name. Other member
of the staffs, including the very elderly board members with adressed her as Miss Bunmi or Madam President.
It got all strange because as far as he was concerned, he hadn’t seen Bunmi discuss with the two of them outside official duty. The only time they talked is during meetings, one can only wonder why they called her by her first name.
“I gotta run along now.” Collins said.
“Not when I am here to see you and assist you.” She replied.
“How do you mean?”
“You know I have no business in the factory, but seeing you here, I have nothing doing, so I felt I should come keep your company.” She explained.
Collins laughed. “I guess you paid someone to watch my every steps in this company. You are everywhere I go.”
Rukayat smiled. “You know, my birthday is next weekend and I don’t know what to do.”
Collins, even though ‘crazily’ in love with Bunmi, he couldn’t deny the chemistry between himself and Rukayat, even though he knew it is just ordinary likeness, as a result of being friends, and even the times Bunmi complained about their closeness, he
always gave the excuse of being really good friends.
“Do you want to have a big party?” Collins asked.
“Tell me what to do.” Rukayat replied as she held his hands and walked away from the premises of the furniture factory.
Collins gave her a strange look. “Sorry.” She smiled as she released his hand.
They continued walking until they stopped outside the rubber factory where several plastic products and other latex products were being loaded for shipment.
Roland was supervising the whole excercise.
“Oga Collins.” He hailed as he ran to meet them just before they got to the trucks. “Miss Rukayat, good morning.” He bowed for Rukayat slightly.
“Roland, weldone.” Rukayat smiled.
“How far?” Collins asked.
“We are loading after which we will move to the warehouse.” Roland replied.
“I hope every production is accounted for?” Collins asked as he collected the register where the figures are recorded.
“Even the wastes will be recycled for subsequent production.” Roland replied.
“Great.” Collins said as he signed at the foot of register.
By now, Rukayat was admiring the products inside the trucks.
“Hey!” Collins called as he walked over to her.
“You know, you are a genius.” She replied with a smile.
“So, we were saying something. Your birthday.” He changed the topic.
Collins was deeply engrossed in chatting with Rukayat until he heard workers greeting someone with excess respect. Alas! Bunmi was there.
“Hey.” She called at Collins who turned to face her.
“Hello Bums.” Rukayat said as she excused them.
“I sent for you, but you didn’t show up.”
“Sorry, work related issue brought me here.” He replied.
“With Rukayat?” She asked. “Okay, its fine. The company is shipping new cars for new senior staffs in two days time, see the welfare manager for the details and how the loan will be repayed.” She quickly added.
“Okay.” He replied.
“Okay? Is that what you’ll say?” Bunmi attacked.
“Anyways, have fun.” With this, she walked away.
To be continued