AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
CHAPTER 75 – 76
It took six weeks before Ebuka’s father invited Funke to his office for a discussion. When she came, she came with the kids. Grandpa loved to have them around. She stopped over at Ebuka’s office. He was happy to see her. She advised Ebuka to join her in the meeting so he could hear firsthand the observations and suggestions. He was reluctant but eventually, he joined her. They all went to ‘Grandpa’s office’ as the children said excitedly.
After all the greetings and hugs, they left the children in the office to order what they wanted while Ebuka’s father, Funke and himself went to a conference room to meet. In the room were two other men. One of them introduced himself, addressed them and then submitted his observations and recommendations about the business. He took time to explain his findings and they went through them together. Most of his recommendations were accepted. He suggested a more detailed Memoranda of Agreement (MOA). He showed them what he drafted with the help of both Nigerian and International lawyers. It was very detailed and covered some aspects they skipped.
Finally, the other man presented the business plan. They went through it slide by slide. The staff of the company closed and left them there. The children went home without their parents. When it was getting interesting, they invited their partners for the same presentation the next day after they had signed the MOA. Ebuka’s father knew this was his son’s idea. He also knew his son had been disgruntled for a while but he waited for him to demand his rights instead of suffering in silence. He never did. He watched how detailed and enthusiastic he was about the project. He couldn’t deceive him. That was how his second son tried to play him too. He quickly set him up with a finance company he had sixty per cent shares. The company was doing very well. That son will take over the company as his inheritance.
The stakeholders for the Fintech met with the team from Ebuka’s father. Their lawyers had scrutinised the agreement and advised them to sign it; it was in everyone’s best interest. They all signed at that point. Then they went through the business plan. The amount they were told they needed as start-up finance was a far cry from what was suggested for the business to thrive. At this point, they needed an extra five hundred million naira in investment. Where would they get that?
Read – Dream chapter 54 – 55
Ebuka’s father came with a proposal. He was willing to invest the five hundred million under certain terms and conditions. One, his company would be awarded shares in the business and his son, Ebuka, will sit on the board representing his company while his wife, Funke will represent herself. Ebuka couldn’t believe his father was willing to stake that much money in the business. They held a separate meeting and agreed on the percentage of shares they would give their new investor for the money. They agreed to give forty per cent of the business to his company while they share sixty per cent. What Ebuka’s father did was to secure a majority shareholding of the company for his son.
Also, they were to work with the consultants for the business set up and running until they were ready to take over. It was like a dream come true for Ebuka. He could work there and be happy. But, his father didn’t agree to it. He was on loan to the company for six months after which he had to return to his job with his father’s company and work on specific days with Fintech. “You have to work hard. The two companies have to be successful and you are the brain behind their success. Six months and you are back here. Tell your wife I appreciate her. She believes more in me than my son. She is wise.”
“Is that what she told you? That I don’t believe in you? I wanted to venture out on my own, is anything wrong with that?” Ebuka asked angrily.
“She didn’t tell me anything; you just did. They presented the business to you without thorough due diligence. Funke uses me to do background checks on clients that want to use her service so she doesn’t get owed. I knew she was the one that wanted me to check before implicating herself. She is thorough. You have a lot to learn from her. Also, you have been treating her badly in recent times. I observed the distance in church on Sunday. When did you start sitting away from your wife? You never show the world you have misunderstandings with your wife. People make a mockery of you behind your back. Never give them room to do that. She is a good girl. I hope no lady is involved. As a successful Yoruba girl, if she finds out you cheated on her, she will divorce you. Remember I said this. I wasn’t exclusive with your mother but she is aware our men are polygamous. Once you respect them and provide for them, what’s left? But a successful Yoruba woman won’t take it. They are too educated and know what they want. She has been with only you, keep it that way. If you make her tempted to try someone else, she might end up with someone you can’t compete with. I hope you understand what I am saying?”
“She is not interested in anyone else and I won’t cheat on her. She annoys me sometimes. I feel less and I don’t like the feeling.”
“What makes you feel less? Does her success worry you?”
“Dad, she is bringing in more money than I. I don’t like it.”
“So, do you need a raise? You know you should have just asked and given reasons why you deserve it. We will have a meeting on Monday to decide the percentage raise and other incentives you want. Discuss it with your wife; she is a better negotiator.”
“There you go again undermining my abilities.”
“You are a good strategist but not a good negotiator. Let your wife teach you how to voice out your needs and how to demand what rightfully belongs to you professionally. You made no mistake marrying Funke, she is a gem.”
Ebuka analysed his discussion with his father, and he was right. Funke never took offence when he was angry or lashed out during arguments, she kept quiet and went about her duties. No matter how badly he behaved when he reached out for her, she gave herself willingly to him. He enjoyed being with her. It felt special every time because he knew he was the only one. And as his father said, it had to remain that way.
That night, he talked to her about his discussion with his father. She quickly wrote down the things he should request for. They discussed it and agreed on a 150% increase in his salary because of the income from his previous start-up, which was bringing in good revenue. It was time to change his car too. He wanted six weeks’ leave with pay from the two jobs. He also requested extra leave days. Ebuka was baffled at how she came up with these from the top of her head. He wondered if his father would agree to them but she was optimistic he would.
Then they talked about the other issues of his outburst and anger. He made her understand how he felt each time she placed his father above him. He said he was a man with intelligence and she made him feel like without his father he couldn’t make the right decisions. She seemed to trust his father more than she trusted him.
Funke allowed him to pour his feelings out. When he was through, she said to him, “my father used to say something to my mother and later I found out it was what my maternal grandmother used to say to her children. “Follow who know road!” I follow your father because he has never led me astray. He has helped me avoid losses and I am forever grateful for that. I can’t count the number of clients he has given me. He is part of the secret to my success. This is because I come humbly to his feet to learn from him, to tap from his wealth of knowledge. You are not doing that Ebuka. You sound like you have something to prove meanwhile, really don’t. Learn the ropes from your father. In short, I am cancelling this list. What we want from your father is his wealth of knowledge. He needs to teach you and groom you after him. You are presenting yourself to him empty for him to fill. That is what we need and then you will fill his big shoes and still make a name for yourself.”
Ebuka was silent. What she said made sense. He just didn’t want to constantly remain in his father’s shadows. His wife couldn’t understand his point. But she also made a point. He needed to learn from his father. He had learnt the ropes of the business but his father commanded respect and he knew people. This was what Ebuka lacked. He needed it. If he was to take over, he needed to know the right people and how to use them. He couldn’t believe he was agreeing with Funke. He was glad they had a calm conversation, she heard him and he heard her. He pulled her to him and said, “I love you. I can assure you, there has never been another woman and there will never be another woman. You are all I want and desire. I might be stubborn or mess up sometimes but please don’t break our vows to each other. I won’t, this I promise. And I will do as you say this time without argument. I owe you a lot but with time, you will enjoy the sacrifices you have made for us.”
“I know, Ebuka. That’s why I pray for long life and sound health for us and our children. The love I have for you can never die. We are in this together. Let your father decide on what to give you.”
On Monday, Ebuka was summoned for a meeting with the company lawyer, directors and chairman of the company. There were five of them in the conference room when he entered. He was surprised to see all of them. This was more serious than he thought.
The company secretary opened the meeting. He said the board’s attention had been drawn to a request by him for better working conditions and the board would like to hear from him what he felt he was entitled to.
Ebuka was speechless for some seconds. He wondered if he should stick with their initial discussion with Funke or the latter. The latter was supposed to be between him and his father and not the board. He could see they were impatient and he had to answer. “I wasn’t expecting the board members for the negotiation and it has made me not know if this is the right place to say what I want.”
One of the directors replied, “It is. Whatever you want we will negotiate and agree.”
“OK. I want to learn from the chairman. I have found out I am empty and need to get filled. I am good with technology, business development and strategy but I know nothing about anything else. I don’t know the right people to meet for different situations. I need to learn from his wealth of knowledge and experience. I observed how he handled a business discussion he knew nothing about. He knew the right people to use. I was beyond impressed. I came up with what I wanted but changed my mind. What I want the most is to be groomed and taught by the chairman.”
There was silence in the boardroom. Ebuka’s father looked at him expressionless. This was deep but no one could say anything. After what felt like forever, Ebuka’s father asked him to excuse them so they could discuss. He would get a memo with their decision. As Ebuka stood up to leave, he glanced at the directors and he could see the look of approval. One of them even nodded when their eyes met.
Later that evening, he received the memo. It was his turn to be speechless again. The memo read:
The board of directors have met and decided as follows:
Your salary will be increased by 300%
Your official car will be changed to a Land Rover Discovery
Your position on return to the company after the six months you will be loaned to our sister company will be that of EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Your request to be groomed for the position ahead has been granted.
Congratulations on your new position.
It was signed by the company secretary and chairman. Ebuka couldn’t believe it. Funke was right; he got far more than he bargained for. Humility was all it took to get his father to do his bidding. He had a lot to learn.
When he resumed at the Fintech company, he arrived in the latest Land Rover Discovery. His friends hailed him. They had better cars but now he was stepping up on the game. He had sessions with his father where he learnt from him. Everything he did, he had his father’s input and it helped a great deal. It didn’t take long for him to have the connection and learn how to use them.
One year after the Fintech began, they hit profit. Ebuka’s father called him when he saw the figures and said, “Son, I am proud of you. At this rate, we will register for a full banking licence soon. I always knew you had it in you.”
Ebuka travelled on an official assignment to Italy. When he returned home, he presented Funke with a jewellery set. Funke couldn’t believe her eyes. It was so beautiful. She asked him, “Is it gold?”
“Yes, it is. I only want the best for my wife. I told you you will be rewarded.”