When the phone rang again, I didn’t bother to dip my hand in my rucksack to know who it was. Of course, I knew it was my boss, the MD; my MD. I had a special ringtone for his calls and I knew I was in for it. It was about his 30th call that morning.
Of all days...of all the days since I was appointed the personal assistant to the famous business mugu... sorry mogul Dr. Joel Okon, it was that day my phone refused to alert me to wake up at 3:45 am. You can never imagine when I woke since I skipped 3:35am; I woke up or decided to wake up at about 6:45am! That, is an evil report if you understand the kind of job I do.
What did I then do? Obviously, taking my bath was out of it. I put on my clothes on with similar speed Spiderman or Superman would use when there was an emergency and in less than10 minutes, nope...less than 3 minutes, I was in my kingluini Suit and my shoes that usually gave me stress in putting it on dared not that day, the shoes must have sensed the red light from my tension soaked face and they realised the urgency at hand, hence, they decided to cooperate with me, maybe they read my mind because if they had given me the stress I usually have when putting them on, I would have thrown them away without much ado. The situation demanded all the speed I could get because I was paying for not sleeping but sleeping!
I had slept...or better put, I closed my eyes to rest the night before at about 3am. I was with my boss at his monthly club meeting at the Hilton. The key materials to be used at the conference that our organization was going to host were with me. It is an international event and to get the hosting right, it took us a lot of input which of course does not un-include exchange of money, not just money, hard currencies.
And there I was on a bike on the third mainland bridge at 7:36 or thereabout with the full prospect of partly messing or messing the event up and probably my career along with it. The event was billed to start at 8am prompt meaning no African, Nigerian or any other time! The event must kick off at the scheduled time. That was part of the guidelines we were given at the time we won the hosting right amidst strong oppositions from big companies in the telecommunications and IT sector. And at that point, it seemed I was the devil we prayed about last the week before at the office, “the devil that may want to disrupt our plans for a successful hosting”. I remember my MD’s pastor who came to the office to lead the special prayer session said we should pray that such devils should die. I mean any devil that may want to disrupt the event.
“The devil could even be you” he had said, although not referring to anybody. He went further to say that anybody who pays laxity attention to his or her duty is being a devil and we should pray that we (the staff) will not be devils as we host this all important event. Indeed, we all knew a successful hosting of the event would place our company on a better pedestal and it could also translate to better pay for all members of staff too. Although, I am not one of the churchy guys, but I prayed because of the prospect I felt would appear during and after the event. And, there I was, playing the devil? Oh no, I no be devil and I knew I had to prove it by not being late.
“Guy, he be like say you go pedal this thing well well small o!” I shouted to the okada rider who was doing nearly 80 already. Believe me, I wouldn’t have dreamt to see myself on an okada anywhere even in a nightmare! It was a novelty to me but I did not feel it as I continued to plead for increase in speed.
I looked into the speedometer and noticed that the guy was already above 90 which got me smiling with the thought of getting there not too late. And just as we passed by the Adeniji-Adele junction, I heard a loud sound, it was like a gunshot and it was so close to me. Before my brain that was already muddled with the thoughts of getting late to the office could come to terms with the reality of a burst tyre, I was already doing some superman moves in the air. I flew for some seconds before eventually rolling and tumbling on the tarred road.
If you called that “major disaster number two”, then you are in the spirit with me. The bag containing my laptop and papers meant for the guests laid everywhere on the road and tyres screeched to avoid climbing on them but to no avail. And of all the vehicles in the world, I wonder where the trailer came from, it was a trailer that eventually climbed on the bag the laptop was in and you can say it.... “I don enter”.
I shouted in hysteria like a man who just joined the league of the mentally instable and as I looked around, a song of Alvin and the chipmunks titled “bad day” came to mind and the tears invented itself from my eyes. I looked all around and it was then I realised that I was not the only one who was involved in the accident. I looked behind to see the bike rider. His face was okay but I am not sure his body was because he was static on the ground groaning in pain. Although the crash helmets saved our heads but not the man must have been hurt in other parts of his body when he lost control of the bike. He had tumbled with the bike and it seems he couldn’t walk. Some of the hang-arounds in their usual style of helping the needy came around and I could hear him telling them to leave him alone and call the police or something. I judged that he was okay and could cater for himself and so, I decided that the best thing to do was to go on with my worries. He shouted at the hang-arounds to leave him alone again and. I wanted to help him but the thought of my job overshadowed that idea.
I hurried into the traffic and tried to retrieve what I could of my rucksack of a bag. Immediately I got the bag, I got another bike and headed for the office, there will be no excuse for my boss. He hates excuses. And my situation is not even bad enough to qualify to be an excuse putting in mind that he would not entertain any excuse. I remember he jokingly said the only excuse he would think about would be death, the death of the employee that has an excuse.
Hey, don’t think I have such a devil for a boss. He is just the normal not so educated successful businessman. However, he was rich and when I say rich I mean as rich as having the University of Lagos bestowing on him a honorary doctorate degree. I am sure by now you know what it entails to get a honorary doctorate degree from any Nigerian University. And if you still feign ignorance of what obtains, then I think you should look around and study some of the recipients, then you may come to the realization that young intelligent people don’t get awarded with honorary degrees but only rich and influential mugus..sorry again, moguls. Although, I will not say it applies to every recipient of these awards, however I will say that most of the honorary degrees are awarded based on the financial strength of the recipients who have really made a mark of distinction in their chosen field. How nauseating er? That is what I thought too.
Dr Joel Okon, my Oga, is a political power and he does not need much introduction to those in the political class in Nigeria. Although, better referred to as a business man, many know that he is the sponsor of some political big wigs in the country. He made his money during the military regime of General Abacha. He had won some important contracts that changed his life’s story from a struggling house keeper to that of a contractor and business magnate. He was the house keeper of a former military governor and his rise to stardom and money was one of the booms during the military regime of Abacha to the economy. My boss holds the retired general in high esteem; he exhibits his loyalty whenever the opportunity arises.
Story has it that Ibrahim Babangida had given his (Dr. Joel’s) boss some oil wells and since the military man was very busy and wanted someone he could trust to help manage the wells, he appointed my boss to be in charge. And sometime not long after, Dr. Joel’s boss died. The wife and the family relocated to the United States and put my boss in charge of all their Nigerian concerns since he earned the trust of their breadwinner when he was alive.
And my boss during this period had become close to many top shots in government and during the government of General Abacha, it did not take long before my boss started out as an independent big boy, diving into various high scale businesses while maintaining that of his late boss. Today, it is said that he has much more wells than his former boss who died in mysterious circumstances.
More coming soon!