By Aniekan Andikan:
The call was from a foreign number, which was not so unusual. The caller identified himself as the director of human resources at the Bank of America. He wondered what the foreign banker wanted from him or his bank in the middle of the night. He also wondered how the man had his mobile number but then he figured that anyone could reach anybody anywhere if the matter was important enough.
“Sorry for calling you at such an ungodly hour in your country but there’s a matter you should know about which could affect your bank and the whole banking sector in your country including our affiliate banks there,” the American said in one breath.
He knew what the foreigner was talking about. One of his employees who was popular on social media was clamoring for a union for bankers. That silly online activist.
“I don’t have to remind you how bad it will be if bankers in Nigeria form a union. It will be as bad as the government regulations you guys are complaining about. You have to do something to stop this before the whole banking sector in your country has to pay for this,” the American finished and hung up.
He did not sleep much after that. He scheduled a directors meeting in the morning and by 10 they were all seated around the modern board room table.
“We need to find a way to handle this boy that is calling for a union in our bank. Any ideas how we can handle this without looking bad?” he started.
“The economy is bad and banks are getting bankrupt or laying off staff. We can lay him off and blame it on the economy,” the general manager said with a knowing smile.
“We can’t afford to sack him with all his followers on Twitter, he will turn our customers against us. They know about his cause, if we sack him now, they will know we did it because of that. That will definitely make us look bad,” the director of communications countered.
“Well, we can sack more people. fifty? Or hundred? So far we can get rid of him,” the general manager replied still keeping his smile, though not cheeky again.
“We can’t afford to sack up to 5 staff right now. We are working at capacity. If we sack 5 staffs now, we will need to employ 20 more next week. How will that make us look if we fire this week and hire again next week?” the director of human resources asked looking at the general manager. He did not say anything.
“So, what you guys are saying is that we can’t do anything to save our bank?” the CEO and convener of the meeting asked desperately. He had learned long ago when to use “our bank” and “my bank!” when talking with the directors.
“We should promote him,” the director of human resources said.
The general manager who was patiently waiting for an idea he could counter jumped in with “Really? Promote him for his bad behavior?”
“Listen,” the DHR said. “He feels he’s doing the right thing, he doesn’t know how it will affect the industry, so give him some responsibilities. Give him my job, I’m retiring next month anyway. Once he gets my job, he will see the reason why he should not pursue that nonsense unionism thing he’s doing,” the human resource director finished calmly.
No one else said anything. The CEO was nodding sagely, plotting how he was going to carry out this soul-buying endeavor. He was going to make him an offer he won’t be able to reject. His activism days will be over and there will finally be peace.
If he accepts, he would be the youngest director in the history of the bank or any bank at that. If he accepts the role, he will be responsible for ensuring that there’s no such thing as unionism in the bank ever again.