No one can tell you that your father took bribes, was corrupt or misused funds. He was transparent in all his dealings. He was firm and stubborn and that made him step on toes. And he enjoyed stepping on those toes.
– Anthony Ejoor
“What sense does it make Mike?”
There was no response. Tony became agitated and practically flew out of the chair and banged his clenched fists on the table.
“What the hell are you doing?”
He was not prepared for what followed. Rather than become perturbed, Michael threw his head back and laughed. Tony looked bewildered at first, then shook his head and threw his hands in the air.
“I give up”, he said, turning towards the door. Michael let him open the door before calling him back to have his seat.
“I must hang my boots here, at this point”, Michael said.
Tony resisted the urge to ask him why. He had been asking him that since the information leaked out that Mike was retiring. He sat patiently knowing he would get his answer soon.
Michael picked up the letter in the envelope that lay on his table – there was nothing else on the table – and tossed it at his friend.
“I must now allow the company continue without me. I have risen to the peak of my career. No point staying beyond now. This is when the ovation is loudest, my friend”. He looked up and saw the distressed look on Tony’s face as he read the letter.
“Mike. Wetin be dis?”. Tony threw the letter on the table.
“That is the just one of the death-threats I receive regularly”.
Tony appeared quite blank as he tried to make sense of what he just heard.
“Oh yes. From distributors and even some top company officers. Apparently, the only people happy with me are the workers”
Tony was apparently confused.
“You see, the HR policies I implemented in this company ensures that much of our profit is spent ensuring that members of staff, including, or rather, especially, the skilled and unskilled labourers, are well catered for. Right from wages, to allowances and bonuses, they are adequately catered for”. Mike stood up and went to the window over-looking the great lawn.
“Those are great achievements Mike. You are a hero in the HR community and you are aware of that. But why these death threats?”, Tony asked.
“Well, company profits do not go round as much as before. People on top are unhappy”, he said. “I have taken their joy away and given it to those who need a little ray of hope. I gave it to those who make this company realise the profits it does”.
“This”, he said, pointing to the letter on the table,” is from one person who claims to have the best distribution service in the West. I paid him a visit and realised that he operates from his living room. He offered me 40 percent on any profit he makes if I let the deal go through. Imagine!”
Tony was clearly amazed.
“And that happens regularly?”.
“Oh yes, regularly. It was just a month ago that assassins attacked a party I had just left, searching frantically for me”.
Tony’s jaw dropped and that made Michael laugh again. Tony closed his mouth.
“Mike. I know there’s a whole lot you still have to say. This is really a big deal. I’m supposed to be happy, seeing the competition will be losing a great mind. Plus one for my company right?”
They both laughed.
“But this is too much. I can’t handle this and I think I understand why you want to leave”
“Tony, you don’t.”
Mike left the window and sat down. He picked up the letter on the table and tore it neatly into smaller pieces.
“This is nothing,” he said, pushing the pieces aside. “I am not a coward. I do not run from situations like this. Frankly, I will rather die than allow myself be bullied by threats of death. When I die, I know where I’m going”.
“You’re not serious”
“Oh, but I am. What can terrify me again? I lost seven siblings. I have only one left now. I lost two children. Can I be terrified by anything?”
Tony was silent.
“Listen Tony. This is strange. I never believed I would surpass 50 but here I am now. More than 50. I only just feel like there’s some other reason I will live to see 60 or 70. That reason is not to serve this company”
“I am going to live longer. God has given me more time. I can feel it. But I must stupidly end it here. Let people say what they will, but now, I choose to walk away and live.”
Tony gulped and leaned forward in his chair. He did not understand his friend one bit. He would have understood if he resigned because of the threats all around. But that wasn’t the reason. Then what the hell would the reason be? Was a death threat not enough to cause him to retreat and live?What could be a greater reason than not wanting to die?