The Chronicles of Okiemute in Lagos
The dining hall in Furlong Technologies is mind-blowing. Okiemute tried really hard to keep his gaze so as not to be seen looking everywhere like someone just coming from the village. The hall is the only place workers in different cadre can fraternise while taking their meals. But somehow, everyone seems to know his level, so the fraternity is still limited within one’s cadre.
With several sachets of milk, tea, and coffee lying on the dining table, he could not understand while they all seem to be in a hurry. They hardly look at each other in the eye, as they were busy grabbing a mug, pouring hot water, making tea or coffee, picking a few pieces of biscuits in well decorated ornamental trays. The robot-like nature they took their meal was boring to him. As he was standing trying to observe the way things work there, a warning alarm was heard from the ceilings, it was then he noticed some well-crafted speakers fixed to the POP ceilings. “Attention please, you have five minutes more”, a feminine voice came up. It became clear to him why the people were all in a hurry, “so time is highly maximised here”, he said to himself. He quickly picked a mug, made a warm tea, and ate up five pieces of biscuits. He has not taken anything all day, and could not afford to miss such opportunity. As the last person was stepping out, he placed his mug on the table and followed her from behind. If he is left behind, it is certain that he would miss his way back to the waiting hall. He asked the young pretty lady to please direct him back there, as he was coming to their facility for the first time. She told him to ask the security person mounting guards on the entrance to the lobby, as she must be on her desk in less than a minute. She was already late.
By 12noon he was seated in a very large office that can serve as a board room. Right in front of him was a three-man committee. It was time for the long-awaited debriefing. The last preliminaries that will determine his fate with the company.
“I am Jimi Frank, the Director of Operations, Furlong Technologies, and sitting to my left is Agbaje Dakuku, Director, Research and Innovations, and to my right is Linda Bassey, Director, Human Resource and Logistics. We are here on behalf of Mr Clay Whyte, the Managing Director of Furlong Technologies, Nigeria. So can we meet you?” The only sentence that entered his ears was “can we meet you?” All the while, he was looking at Linda Bassey, her mirror-like skin was out of this world. It reminded him of those water goddess he read in comic books when he was younger. Each time she adjusts her braids sideways to avoid it covering her face, her smooth and spotless arm, even to her elbow makes his heart skip. But she was wearing a wedding ring! “Jeez, how can this young lady be married already? Girls of these days, they are always in a hurry to get married”, he said to himself.
He was jerked to consciousness with the “can we meet you” question. Taking a deep breath, he took his eyes off the lady and faced the man at the middle as if he had scores to settle with him. Then he went with the charismatic fluency that comes on him each time he sees a lady he admires. “Okiemute Oghenekokwo is my name, a graduate of physics education from one of the state Universities in Nigeria. An IT enthusiast and a software developer”, he replied couteously.
“Welcome to Furlong Technologies Okie-mu-teh”, Jimi Frank said with a warm smile. “I hope I got the pronunciation of your name right?”, he asked. ” Don’t worry sir, at least it is not as bad as I was called during my service year in the Northern part of the country”, he replied. “Ok then, Linda Bassey would take you through our ethics before we discuss any deal with you. We make our terms and conditions clear before going into any business negotiations”, Timi Frank emphasised.
With the kind of voice that is capable of making a roaring lion calm like a donkey, she began with her moral lecture. “Linda Bassey is the name, as introduced by Timi Frank, and I am in charge of Human Resource and Auxiliary Logistics here at Furlong Technologies. Over here, we maintain a high level of professional ethics, reason why we have had a decade long existence without any scandal, blackmail or court case. Firstly, we don’t get involved in shady deals. We deal directly with our clients by speaking to the right persons. We don’t cut corners! I repeat we don’t cut corners! Secondly, we take responsibility here, we don’t shift blames, we proffer solutions. And in doing that we work as a team. Summarily, we win and fail together. That’s why we go the extra length to stand behind our team members when the chips are down. Lastly, we deal with our private lives in such a way that it does not affect the image of the company. Once you get involved in illicit or scandalous issues with your private life, the company will disengage you if her investigation finds you wanting. That will be all for now” she concluded.
“I believe you heard her clearly,” Agbaje cuts in with such a scary baritone voice. “Now let me be direct with you”, he continued. ” This software you’re talking about, who developed it, you?” He asked with a stern look on his face. Okiemute was surprised. “How can someone come to an IT company to present a software he did not develop? How was he supposed to defend it?”, he shuddred? Straight up he answered Agbaje Dakuku, “I developed it, sir!” “Solely or you’ve someone that shared the idea with you and later stopped following the development process?”, he asked again. “No one sir, it is completely my idea”, Okiemute replied.
Adjusting his seat, and sipping from the bottled water on his table he asked another question, “who is your closest friend?” “Oghare Akpodiete” he replied. “Is he aware of this software?” Asked Agbaje. “He is aware sir, he is even aware that I am in Lagos to make an official presentation at Furlong Technologies” Okiemute replied emphatically. “Can we have his phone number?” Agbaje kept pushing. Okiemute gave the number by heart and the lady dialed it from the telephone in the office.
Okiemute was bemused. He has never heard of anyone who has been attacked like this in the name of being interviewed. No wonder the whole offices are made of transparent glasses. You can see what is happening three offices away, just that you can’t hear what they are saying even if they are screaming. “With all these questions, what if the man he stole from just catch him one day in front of the office shouting on top of his voice calling him thief, thief. This person won’t even think about it twice before they will terminate his deal with them”, he thought within himself.
Then the phone started ringing. It rang once no response, and she dialled it again. This time his confidence was diminishing, he suddenly started feeling hot despite the freezing nature of the air conditioning system in the room. He has never been this tensed all his life, not even during his final year project defence back in the University. The phone rang again, and for a long time before someone picked. Just before Linda could initiate a conversation with the receiver at the other end, they started hearing “wrong number wrong number. All these 419 people will not rest”. Someone was shouting at the background “Oghare cut the call, you nor see the number say na 01 he take start? Na 419 people be that”.
They all stared at themselves in the room bewildered!
IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.