There is a new Sheriff in town, so everybody has to obey, every tax defaulter has to pay up. When he asks for silence, everyone has to comply. The same way, Kike Brown is in the Central mall and everyone has to follow orders, not without the fierce looking men she used as bodyguards.
The Central mall was built many years ago by the then colonial government of Lytletton and over the years, maintenance and renovation from the Nigerian government has kept the business joint which represent the Nigerian version of the World trade center. Sadly, the WTC has been non-existent since the unfortunate 9/11, but several word trade center-like building are in major cities of the world. Inside the central mall, there are fifteen floors and on each floor are several business places. Boutiques,
supermarkets, phamaceutical stores, hospitals, law firms and consultancy offices to mention a few.
Kike brown stood in between her guards who were surveying the entire ground floor which is unoccupied by anybody, except the staffs of the mall who were always on hand to give directives to visitors in locating their destination within the mall. The hall also served as a waiting room and an advertisement platform as here and there one could see banners and miniature billboards with inscriptions like; Daniellah Baby stores,
4th floor. S.Johnson and co legal chamber, 10th floor among others.
“Excuse me ma’am, I am the CSO. And as the chief security officer of this mall, I plead with you to please take a sit over there while you wait for your friend. Your presence…” The man let his voice trail. “Sorry, I mean the presence of these gentlemen.” He said pointing to the two guards with a pleading smile. “Is intimidating the users of the mall. They seemed to be the centre of attraction.”
Kike glanced at her wrist watch and smiled. “I’m sorry,
Mister, I am not moving an inch until the person I am waiting for arrives.”She replied.
“But, madam, everyone is terrified. They are afraid your men will attack them.” The CSO replied.
“You don’t get it, do you?” Kike asked. “I am a Brown. Everyone who is terrified should hang outside until am done. Once I leave, they can go in and do whatever.” She replied and immediately, one of the two bodyguards approached the security man and tapped his chest twice.
“Get outta here.” He said, and without another word, the CSO left.
Almost immediately, Kike saw the person she has been waiting for. Since she knew of her brother’s plan to destroy SJC, she has been doing everything within her
power to warn the president at SJC, Bunmi Jose. Every attempt of hers have either been blocked by Bunmi’s secretary or the network operator’s office at SJC. She has repeatedly asked for a meeting with Bunmi, but she has always been denied the chance. She then paid some guys to stalk the beautiful lady and then they came up with the report that, every last day of the month, Bunmi attends a French class somewhere in
the central mall. And following the tip off, here she was waiting for her.
“You guys go and wait for me at the parking lot. Your presence will scare her.” she instructed her guards who disappeared immediately, just in time when Bunmi walked into her, as she was deeply engrossed in whatever she was doing on her phone to the extent that she didn’t watch where she was going.
“Hi.” Kike greeted with a smile.
“Hello.” Bunmi replied trying to recollect where she had seen the beautiful face before her.
“I have actually been meaning to see you for a while now. Can we head somewhere and talk?” She asked.
“Pardon? Do you know me?” Bunmi asked.
“Everybody knows Bunmi Jose. Please, don’t say no. It’s important we talk now.” Kike replied.
“I’m sorry, I don’t meet with strangers. You can call at SJC on monday, I will meet you then.” Bunmi explained politely as she made to leave, but Kike blocked her. Still with a smile.
By now, Bunmi couldn’t keep her cool anymore.
“Excuse me. You are embarrassing me.”
“Sorry.” Kike said as she stepped aside for her, and immiediately, Bunmi walked away.
Kike thought about letting her go, but on a second thought, she really wanted to help.
“Wait! Its about the company. Its about SJC.” She said loudly.
Bunmi turned to face her. “What do you know about
SJC?” She asked before walking away.
Kike stood transfixed as she watched her target slip out of hand. She saw Bunmi exchange pleasantries with a familiar face at the door and just as Kike moved
closer, the man who had recognized her spoke. “Miss Kike Brown, we met again. How cool?”
“Do I know you?”
“It’s me, Ade from the supermarket show of superiority.” The man replied.
“I don’t have your time.” With this, she walked past him.
“We sure will meet again, but then, its going to be uncool, believe me.” He threatened.
Even though his threats sent shivers down her spine, she waved it as nothing; “afterall, I am a Brown. I have power.”
Collins sat in his office as he prepared for the first presentation of the new month. A couple of report papers are scattered all over his table as he tried to find a means to arrest the decline in the production for the month which has been halfed already.
Just eighteen days ago, at the end of last month, SJC recorded a 2.1% increase and by the middle of the new month, production has dropped to 1.7% and by the permutation he and his team did, they arrived that, if care is not taken, production will fall to 1.5% or even lower. As a graduate of Chemistry, he has made it a point of duty to study business during his leisures and he never failed to follow business trends as he is a member of the Largest business forum in Africa. He read a lot and his reading seemed to have yielded positive result during his first month, halfway into his second month, things seemed to be turning wrong and if care is not taken, production will fall beyond the mess he met on ground. The door into his office opened as his bestfriend, Rukayat walked in.
“Hello handsome.” She smiled.
“Hey.” He replied non challantly as he returned to his computer where he made last minute moves of sending the full version of his presentation to every department for review.
“You good?” Rukayat asked seeing the look on his face.
“Yeah, just nervous, that’s all.” He replied as he sighed.
He re-arranged his table, getting the papers needed for his presentation ready.
“I will do that for you. We are running out of time.” Rukayat said as she stopped him
for doing anything further. “Just enter the restroom and wash your face, you look tired.” She advised.
Like a zombie, he walked out of the office leaving Rukayat behind to finish the rearrangement on his behalf.
Five minutes later, they were heading towards the conference hall which is located at the very far end of the enormous land mass on which SJC was built. From the gate, the conference hall is about three minutes drive and a five minutes walk.
“You see, when I first came here, I did very badly that I almost resigned. I didn’t get myself together until after six months, all thanks to Mr San Jose continued support for me. I once misfiled a call for my boss then, but the moment I got things right, I became a boss. Even when I was transferred to head HR, I still fumbled, but the truth is. What you have in you never dies. I never studied anything relating to my job description when I was in school, it was pure finance or accounting. And you too, you did Chemistry, now handling production and I can tell you, SJC has never had it so good. You are the best production manager. You got things right immediately.” She spoke as they walked.
“But, I got it wrong already.” Collins argued.
“Better now than later. There used to be a certain Mr Vincent heading finance years back. When he came on board, he ran a cost effective finance unit. He identified problems, solved them and things went right. He got board approval to lay off some of the staffs in the department to reduce the money being pumped into salary. He led the department for two year with six other members, but after two years, these people couldn’t work effectively because the work meant for eighteen people was being done by seven men. Vincent was sacked for this reason and even the then welfare
manager was sacked, as well as the Personnel manager. What I am saying in essence is, these men lost their job two years after they made a cost reduction policy. And their two years of service forgotten, but you having problems now, means, getting it right now, getting it right for ever.”
Collins went silent for a while, he only spoke up when they walked through the flower lawns leading to the conference hall.
“I know what to do.” He smiled.
“That’s it. Don’t let people know there is a problem in the unit. Tell them everything is under control, keep assuring them while at the same time, you are working on fixing the problem. I hope you understand?” With this, Rukayat walked into the hall.
Collins breathe in deeply as he walked in as well and immediately, about fifteen pairs of eyes turned to him.
“Sorry, I’m late.” He said as he proceeded to his designated seat.
“Welcome sir.” Janson said as soon as he sat down beside him.
“Observing due protocol, Mr Collins, go ahead and make your presentation.” That was when Collins realized that the Vice president was presiding over the meeting. Collins developed a cold feet instantly, as he walked towards the giant HD screen where his report was being displayed.
“Mr Collins, how will you explain the present fall in production?” The Vice president asked before he could settle himself.
“And extensively explain how prodution growth was uniform last month.” Ola, the finance boss added.
“You guys should ask a question at a time.” Rukayat came to his rescue just in time when the door opened and Bunmi walked in.
“Sorry I’m late.”
Tony was seated in his office when the door opened suddenly and his friend, Blaise walked in furiously. Tony’s secretary was trying to stop the Frenchman, but his anger won’t let him be fazed.
“Hello Blaise.” Tony greeted immediately he recovered from his shock.
“Sir, I tried to stop him, but he woldn’t listen.” Tony’s secretary quickly explained.
“You can go Maggie.” Tony waved the lady off before turning to Blaise who was obviously very angry.
Tony stood up and approached him with a smile, but got the shock of his life when Blaise’s strong hands grabbed him by the neck and subsequently slammed his back against the wall.
“How could you Tony?” He asked.
“Come on man, you are choking me.” Tony said through gritted teeth, when the pressure over his throat became unbearable.
“I came here to kill you. You son of a b!tch. You killed my business, now you want to buy it off.” Blaise screamed. “What games are you playing?”
“I am playing no games. I am merely expanding my chain of business.” Tony replied.
“Expanding your own company at my own detriment?” Blaise asked with eyes wide opened.
“I’m afraid yes. You were too stupid to spot my motives.” Tony replied as he burst out laughing.
“I’ll kill you.” With all the strength he could muster, Blaise tightened his grip on Tony’s neck. This time, ready to snuck life out of him.
Just that moment, the door into the office burst open and Tony Brown’s personal assistant ran into the office. He instantly made for Blaise and delivered a
huge punch to his jaws. Immediately, Tony freed himself of his one time friend, now assailant’s grip. Malik moved closer to Blaise with a rain of punches
hitting him all over his face and chest, such that, by the time he was done, one could hardly recognize the frenchman.
“Call security.” Tony instructed once he was satisfied with Malik’s work.
“Yes sir.” With this Malik walked out of the office with the phone placed close to his ear.
Tony returned to his seat while throwing provocative comments at Blaise who dare not say a word as he was outnumbered and outmanned.
“You are a b*stard. You had the nerve to come into my office. I think you should have invited me to France to let your anger known.” Tony said.
“You won’t get away with this.” Blaise threatened.
“How?” Tony asked with a tone of mockery.
“I have the support of my government. Just so you know, the French ambassador to Nigeria is aware of my visit to your office. Going back with a scratch is enough evidence to drag you to court.” He explained.
“I love court cases.” Just then Malik returned with a team of bodyguards stormed the office, and with little or no struggle, Blaise was dragged out.
“Where the hell were you all the while he was in here with me?” Tony faced Malik angrily once they were alone.
“I’m sorry sir, I was attending to the press.” Malik replied. “What do you suggest we do for that son of a b!tch?”
“Killing him is not an option. Hold him until he is ready to negotiate his release.” Tony replied and waved Malik off.
“Alright sir.” With this, the young personal assistant walked out of the office.
A philosopher once said; “Every challenge is a lesson to know that life is not a bed of roses.” As much as a lot of people will not agree to the quote, one cannot but agree partially because at one point in time, we have all faced challenges which in turn made us who we are today.
A man of God once said in his preaching; “Every human will face one challenge or the other, because even Jesus Christ was faced with temptation.” By personal belief, temptation is the biggest challenge, and only a few have gone without falling. Even Adam and Eve did fall into temptation. A teacher of mine once said challenges that doesn’t come in form of temptation comes in form of disappointment. And he said further that if a disappointment is not a blessing in dusguise, it is a lesson. Basically, every human faced with challenges in guise of disappointment would feel he has been let down by God, but remembering that the devil told Jesus to bow for him and the world would be his. A man faced with disappointment is likely to be tempted into serving something different from God because basically, he thinks he has been let down.
Several career counsellors, advisers have times without numbers explained that every new employee is going to face a challenge threatening enough to make
him quit his job or sacked. The challenge may be in his job or from his colleagues. But whichever ways, such challenges either make or mar us.
The challenge of every man, community, state or nation starts with finance and economy. Every man at the start of the month tries to project his spendings for the next thirty days towards his salary. Every community depends on levies from members for developmental levies and every state or Nation writes a budget which serves as a guide for one economic-calendar year.
“I think now that Madam President is on seat, she should preside over the meeting.” A manager from welfare department suggested.
“No, I think present protocol should duely be observed.” Bunmi replied meaning that the vice president would continue in the capacity of acting chairman of the conference.
Meanwhile, Collins stood in a state of confusion, seperating the wheat from the chaff in his idea as he looked to turn the conference into his favour. After a few words of encouragement from a long time staff of SJC, Rukayat, he felt the need to convince his
colleagues from other department, even without a laid down defence, he knew he could as well turn things in his favour. But entering the conference room to see the vice president at SJC presiding over the conference and the finance manager, Mr Ola deputizing, he knew he was in for a tough time.
“Back to you Mr Collins. Production is falling, quality is wearing out, quantity is on the increase, returns and profit is low, what do you think?” The Vice president asked.
“The production fall is a means to an end.” Collins replied.
“How?” The Vice president asked.
“Everyone will agree with me that production is average when I came on board, and after a month, production rose well above average.” Collins began and he could see the level of attention everyone gave him.
Obviously, they all loved listening to him, especially on matters like this. A smile was evident on Bunmi’s face, likewise Rukayat who had her hands set readily for applause.
“We need stability in production first before thinking of increase. Now, the best way to stabilize production in a company like ours is to test the waters. Test the high and the low. Test the positive and negative, then draw a perfect plan to stabilize on the positives.” He explained.
“Are you saying the production fall is intentional?” The Vice president asked.
“That was why I said it is a means to an end. You all are aware that am new here and recording success in my first attempt without first understanding how things
work here will only result in failure. So, yes. The fall is near intentional.” He explained.
“How quickly do you intend to lift production from its current state?” Mr Ola, the finance manager asked.
“Two weeks.” Collins replied. The hall went silent for a few seconds before the Vice
president’s voice came on.
“Mr Collins, taking a decision to drop production is simillar to devaluation. Did you consult the finance,sales or your fellow production team?” The Vice
president asked. The question seemed to throw Collins off guard. Firstly, he hadn’t consulted anybody, and even though he could have lied, he knew his fellow production team won’t deny him, same with the Sales manager who is very cool, but his problem is the finance unit led by Mr Ola.
“Yes, I contacted the Sales and my fellow production experts and….” Collins lied, even though not convincing.
“Me too.” Bunmi cuts in.
“Pardon?” The vice president asked as all eyes turned to the president.
“He consulted me before taking the decision.” She replied.
Kike Brown sat inside on her bed, her laptop opened before her. But her attention was not on the laptop computer, neither was her attention on the music video being shown on the flatscreen television hung on the wall opposite the bed. But, her attention was on her tablet on which serveral pictures of Mike Collins(the guy he met at her brother’s party) She had no idea why she was obsessed with the guy, even though she is a young lady with class. Who will never date a salary earner, except if he is a director at Chevron or Shells petroleum where he earns six figures at per month. Her target has always being on one of the young billionaire entreprenuers. But since she met Collins briefly, the handsome guy who is a mere Production manager, whose take home at the end of
the year couldn’t be more than two hundred thousand naira. Just then the intercom beside her bed rang and she promptly picked it up.
“Okay, I’m coming.” She replied and immediately she dropped the call, she got out of bed, adjusted her gown and proceeded to walking out of the room with her phone and tablet.
“Is this really you?” Kike screamed as she descended the stairs in a hurry, skipping some steps in the process.
“Yes babes, this is me.” A young lady who couldn’t be more than twenty five replied. Everything about the lady oozed class, from her versace gown, down to her purse, her wristwatch, her wedge and jewelleries.
“Amanda Brown?” Kike asked.
“Yes o.” The lady, Amanda replied as she hugged her big cousin. Amanda Brown as the name implies is Kike’s cousin, even though younger by by two years, Kike still treated her like her agemate. Both ladies have been friends since childhood as Chief Brown had adopted Amanda to keep Kike’s company, being the only one at home in
the absence of Tony who was in school then. Amanda and Kike grew into notorious twins as people called them and they shared almost everything. Even though
five years ago, when Kike originally finished her tertiary education, and incident took place which in turn brought bad blood between the once close friends, sisters. No one knew the exact thing that brought about enemity as they both bottled it up, even though their parents did everything humanly posible to bring them back together, but the truth is, the two girls only agreed to the reconcilation in a bid to satisfy their parents. Whoever wronged the other, no one knows.
“How are you?” Kike asked as they both sat down on the three seater couch.
“I’m good.” Amanda replied.
“You done with your programme right? I saw the pictures on Instagram.” Kike said.
“Yeah. I now have a second degree in business administration.” Amanda replied.
“Good to know. What about the guys in America?” Kike asked.
“Everyone is good.” Amanda replied.
“There is this guy, Mensah from Ghana, the last time we talked, he said something about returning to Havard for his Masters.” Kike asked bringing back old memories.
“Mensah? That slowpoke, he never returned to Havard. He is married with kids in Dallas now.” Amanda replied.
“And these playboy crew, I’ve forgotten their names. But we attended a whole lot of their shows in my final year.”
“They disbanded already. The dark skinned one, Robert works at Microsoft, the blond guy is the youngest congressman in the US parliarment. The leader, Ivica, the Croatian died in a car crash the same day he was nominated to run for Vice presidency in his home country. Psy, the chinese is the only one who continued with music.” Amanda explained.
“Wow! There used to be this Russian chic. Olga or something was her name.”
“Olga, yeah she married Professor Thaudson, the serving Governor of Moscow.” Amanda replied.
“Everyone we knew is either out there making it. I must make it too.” Kike said.
“Those are your classmates then. Remember?” Amanda reminded her cousin.
“Yeah. So, what do I offer you?” Kike asked.
“Soda water will do.” She replied.
“You still have a thing for Soda and scotch?” Kike asked as she made for the bar.
“Are you still in touch with Malik?” Amanda asked her first question. Kike stopped in her tracks in shock. She turned to face Amanda with a sober look on her face.
“Amy babe, I thought that was in the past, we settled
didn’t we?” She asked.
“Sorry, I only felt like asking. He is an old friend, no
matter what happened.” Amanda replied. “Just shake
it off and get me my drink.” She added.
Kike smiled in appreciation as she continued her
“Where’s your accent?” She asked from the bar as she picked drinks.
“This is Nigeria, your accent doesn’t put food on your table.” Amanda replied. Kike smiled. Amanda is the only girl she has seen who doesn’t think more of herself. Even though she is a billionaire’s daughter, she still believed in making her own money, away from her father.
Talk about getting a timely rescue or helper from above. No where in his wildest dream did he ever imagine Bunmi coming to his rescue at a point like this. First of all, he had failed in his job to lift productivity for the second month running, secondly, he is not really in good terms with Bunmi, therefore, he wasn’t expecting help from her. Lastly, he had lied his way through, and here, he was about getting out of trouble.
“Permit me to ask, Mr Collins. It is not in your job description to report to Miss Bunmi, how come you had to report to her, when clearly, you shouldn’t have?” The Vice president asked.
“First of all, I am friends with Miss Bunmi beyond the walls of this company. I only briefed her and she consented. Moreso, I don’t remember being told to only talk to certain people when I got here.” Collins explained.
“It seems someone is having issues with Mr Collins. Do not bring personal issues into meetings like this.” Rukayat cuts in.
“Breach of protocol Miss Rukayat.” The viice president said,
“Sorry for that, but you have asked one too many questions from Mr Collins. Production is falling, what is the cause? He already told you. Your question now should be, how will he lift production from its current state, not attacking his sensitivity.” Rukayat explained.
The room went silent, as Collins stood still waiting for the next question.
“I agree with Rukayat.” Bunmi said.
“Okay Mr Collins, what is the way forward?” Ola, the finance manager asked.
“I believe producing our own raw materials would do us good.” Collins replied.
His latest reply seemed to pique everybody’s interest, as they all turned their attention to him.
“How?” Bunmi asked.
“It is a long term plan, but we can achieve it within short period. We start planting and harvesting raw materials like sugar cane, latex, wood and cotton.” He
“Latex three takes more than five years, timber takes the same time to fully develop, cotton takes a year or two, sugar cane takes months. How does long term plans increase our productivity?” Bunmi asked.
“We simply enter an agreement with local farmers. All the aforementioned products would be planted for our use. We will pay them monthly. Their farm becomes SJC’s asset.” He explained.
“Good. Do what you have to do and let me know as you progress.” Bunmi said.
“Let us not jump the gun here. As good as his suggestion sounds, there is more to it.” the vice president objected. “Forget whatever you two have between you. This is business.”
“Can you prove that there is something between us?” Bunmi asked standing up. “This meeting is suspended.” And with this. She stormed out of the hall. Collins seeing that as an opportunity to settle issues with his girlfriend immediately packed his stuffs and followed.
To be Continued