Deadlock: How a wife’s blabber-mouth can destroy her husband

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Renato Oil and Gas is a multinational oil company in Nigeria. It is also operating in over 10 other countries across Europe, the Middle East and the Americas with their global headquarters in Kohln, Germany.

This oil company has been operating in Nigeria for 25 years with German expatriates as MD/CEO for the same number of years. Recently, the current MD, who’s the third since Renato started operations in Nigeria sent in a notice of retirement letter to the Board at their global headquarters in Germany.

The Board, after deliberation decided that after 25 years of operation in Nigeria, they’ve been able to grow and train people capable and equipped enough to take charge of the Nigerian operations, hence it was decided that a Nigerian amongst the top Executive Directors of the company in Nigeria should henceforth be appointed to preside over the affairs of the Nigerian subsidiary as MD/CEO.

Immediately the news of this decision filtered into the company in Nigeria, every staff already narrowed it down to two EDs. These two, most senior of the four EDs, came in as members of the pioneer staff of the company. Over the years, apart from their top academic qualifications from Ivy League institutions, they’ve been fortunate to have undergone series of training abroad on several occasions, and have both at one time or the other worked at the global headquarters and other subsidiaries of Renato oil around the world.

The Board asked any of the EDs interested to apply. The four EDs applied and after series of interviews both in Nigeria and Germany, true to speculation of most staff, the two most senior and experienced EDs were finally shortlisted for the final interview.

Fredrick Wale Coker is Executive Director, Accounts & Human Resources. He’s 46 years old, married to Jane Olanike Coker and they are blessed with 3 kids ages 16, 13 and 10. Fred is a first class graduate of Accounting at the age of 19 years from the University of Lagos. He later went back to the University of Port Harcourt to earn another degree in Petroleum Engineering (2:1) and an MBA (Oil & Gas) from University of Dundee, Scotland UK. He’s also a chattered accountant and an alumni of Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. His wife, Jane runs an expensive private nursery and Primary school in the highbrow old Ikoyi on Lagos Island.

Nosa Oladeji Osogbe is Executive Director, Operations & Engineering. He attended the premier University, University of Ibadan where he studied Mechanical Engineering and bagged a first class and the best graduating student of his faculty. He thereafter proceeded to MIT where he did his masters in Engineering specializing in oil and gas engineering. He also attended Harvard for his MBA degree. He’s happily married to Erica Osogbe, an insurance broker with one of the top insurance brokerage firm in Nigeria and they are blessed with two kids, 18 and 16 years respectively. Nosa is 47 years old.

They were called to Germany to face the global Board of Renato Oil at the company headquarters for the last interview. There are 10 categories of areas in which they would be asked questions and each of the 10 member board are to score each candidate over 10. At the end of the interview, there was a tie. 5 board members score Fred higher while the other 5 members score Nosa higher. After much arguments, they could not reach a consensus. The Chairman decided to call off the meeting for another day. They asked Fred and Nosa to go back to Nigeria while the decision of the Board would be conveyed to them soonest.

It’s been 3 months and nothing has been heard from Germany. Meanwhile, Mr Goldberg the current MD has a month before his final bow out. His farewell ceremony is already been planned with a cocktail and dinner to be held at the prestigious Eko Hotel in Victoria Island. The global Chairman of the board, global MD/CEO and 3 other members of the board would be coming from Germany for the farewell ceremony for Mr Goldberg who has put in 35 years in the service of Renato oil.

The question is, who takes over Renato Nigeria? The Chairman does not believe in appointing people in acting capacity, and does not at the same time to want to leave a vacuum once the current MD leaves. When the German team arrived Nigeria, at their meeting with Mr Goldberg, he made them to understand that having worked with both Fred and Nosa for 7 years, he would be okay if any amongst them is appointed as they are absolutely super qualified and capable.

The only woman amongst the board suggested that since Fred and Nosa’s wife would be coming for the cocktail/dinner party, they should one on one engage their wives to see the other side of this two gentlemen. Let’s have an informal chat with each wife, I am sure that would break the deadlock. Not that who they are at home or with their wives has anything to do with their job performance which we already know, but in situation like this we can use it to break the deadlock. Funnily, all of them agreed to this proposal.

On the night of the party, both Fred and Nosa arrives with their wives. Mr. Goldberg had been instructed to fully engage Fred and Nosa in order for their wives to be free. Unknowingly as cocktail is served, the Chairman and his crew gets to work, engaging Jane and Erica separately and informally.

At home prior to the Farewell Dinner of her husband’s boss at Eko hotel, Jane Coker was at home having an argument with her husband about his workaholic nature and his not spending enough time with her and the kids.

It has always been a sour point in Fred and Jane’s marriage. Fred has always been a serious minded person right from school. He’s a provider and he loves his wife and kids to bits but when it comes to his responsibility in the office, he can’t help putting too much time and energy into it. He kept telling Jane that Renato has given him a great life and the least he can do is to work hard for the company that changed his life for good. As an Executive Director, apart from a fabulous pay package, their kids are entitled to full scholarship up to University level, a home in highbrow Ikoyi which becomes theirs at retirement and an all expense paid summer holiday for the whole family once a year. All these is apart from generous allowances as at when due. Fred always feel obligated to give all back to the company and often times to the detriment of his family.

Jane understand Fred’s argument but just does not buy the idea of making your family pay dearly for this work obsession. This has been a dark spot in their marriage and Jane over the years took solace in her kids and her passion for running her Nursery/ Primary school. The only day Fred ever stays at home and not go to work is on Sunday, that’s if he’s not traveling abroad on official assignment. Jane wonders why she should remain in a marriage where for sometimes two months, her husband would refuse to perform his conjugal responsibility. For how long is she going to live a sexless life at age 42 or keep begging her husband for sex.

Meanwhile, at Nosa and Erica’s home prior to the farewell dinner for Mr Goldberg at Eko Hotel, it was a silence of the grave yard scenario.

Nosa and Erica have not been on talking terms for three days until that morning when Nosa had to break the ice because of the farewell dinner they both have to attend. As usual, it’s all about money issue. Erica believes Nosa is too tight fisted and only cares for his siblings and parents to the detriment of his immediate family. Erica shouted at him few days ago about how as usual she asked him for some money, he refused but later went ahead to send more than the amount she asked for to his youngest brother he’s training in a UK University.

“You can spend any amount on your parents and siblings but when it comes to your family, it’s always excuse everytime. Why did you even marry and have a family? Why not just stay single and slave for your family”, Erica shouted at him.

Nosa hates it when Erica starts her usual trouble. Left to him, as far as he’s concerned, he’s been able to give the best to his immediate family. They don’t lack anything and his position at work gave them virtually everything free including the education of their two kids who are both schooling abroad in very expensive institutions. What he would not do is indulge Erica and be wasteful with money like her. After all, she earns well so why can’t she use her own money for all her ridiculous expenses. How can you be asking me to change a car I bought for you two years ago just because a new model just came out? No way! You can as well buy it with your own money.

“No amount of blackmail or cold shoulder would make me change a two year old car”, Nosa vowed.

At Eko Hotel, the venue of the Farewell Dinner for the outgoing MD/CEO of Renato Oil and Gas, Mr Goldberg is in full swing. The Minister for Petroleum, CEO of other sister oil companies, multinational companies, Banks, captains of industries and political big wigs are all trooping in. The Sugar band is dishing out old Lionel Richie tunes while cocktail is served.

The Global Chairman of Renato and other board members present agreed the only woman amongst them, Mrs. Randberg should meet up and have conversations with both Mrs Jane Coker and Erica Osogbe so that they can have time to attend to other issues and meet important dignitaries.

Mrs Randberg was first introduced to Jane Coker by the MD, Mr Goldberg.

Mrs Coker, it’s a pleasure meeting you.

The pleasure is all mine. Thank you very much and I hope you are enjoying the African sunshine.

Ohh indeed, I am and how are the kids?

The kids are all back at school now. It’s school season here.

Ohh that’s great. So, it’s just you and Fred at home. That gives room for good bonding when kids are not home.

Yes, even when they are home, Fred is a great and considerate family man and affectionate too, (cursing furiously under her breadth… I hate all this corporate dinners where I have to keep the image and lie through my teeth. Affectionate my foot! Fred has not even made love to me in two months…)

Ohhh that’s so romantic, Mrs. Coker, how lucky you are.

Hmmmm, Yes indeed, (why did I even come here?)

I am sure I will still see you later Mrs Coker, it’s been nice talking to you.

Thank you Madam, do have a great evening.

The cocktail was almost over before Mrs Randberg was introduced to Erica Osogbe by Mr. Goldberg. He was busy going round to greet a lot of dignitaries coming in.

Mrs Osogbe, how are you. Nice to meet you.

Nice to meet you too… I hope your stay in Nigeria has been eventful.

Absolutely! This is my third time in Nigeria in the last four years and I always enjoy the buzz of Lagos.

Ohhh that’s great. Indeed Lagos is really buzzy.

Your husband spoke so highly of you Mrs Osogbe. He said you are a brilliant insurance broker here in Lagos.

Erica: Really? I am flattered, I thank him for telling you that but I wish I can speak so highly of him like that right now. Not that he’s not good at what he does here at Renato but I wish he can be that good to us like that at home.

BM: Oh never mind, men would always be men sometimes, don’t take it to heart Mrs. Osogbe.

Okay Mrs. Ran… Ohhh… Hannah, you know not all men are mean. My husband is a good man, just that he’s mean when it comes to money. Not that he doesn’t have the money but he rather waste it on other people than me, his wife. Can you imagine I ask him to buy me a new car and he refused saying my old car is still okay, (thinking… I am going to spoil his parade here with one of his colleagues…if he thinks he can make me unhappy at home, I will also make him look bad with one of his colleagues).

Never mind, I am sure he would still get it for you…(whispers in Erica’s ear..) I will help you nudge him, its been nice meeting you.

Same here Mrs….Hannah..

Monday morning at the Board room of Renato Oil & Gas, Mrs Randberg is briefing the Chairman, other board members and the MD of her encounter and conversation with both Fred and Nosa’s wives. She confidently and without hesitation told them Fredrick Coker has a more stable and settled family life than Nosa, therefore it would be better to appoint him as the next MD of Renato Nigeria.

The Chairman wanted a more detailed explanation and why Mrs Randberg arrived at her position. She posited that if you want to know a man very well, talk to his wife. A wife is the best representation of her husband and a sure reflection of his home. The position of a chief executive needs a man with a clear mind and a non troubling family life, running Renato takes a lot and if your home is not conducive and peaceful enough, your output might be affected.

But can we use a one encounter with Nosa’s wife to pass a judgement on his family life? I have worked with him for 7 years and there has never been anytime his family life affected his work here at Renato, the MD responded.

Too bad, Mrs. Randberg quipped. First impression last longer. We all agreed we will use this encounter to make our final choice and break the deadlock. Not that we are passing a vote of no confidence on Nosa. He might have a great family life just like you said, I don’t doubt that but his wife talks too much and there are some matters between husband and wife not meant for outsiders you are meeting for the first time. For all I care, Fred might have a more volatile marital life but his wife kept it under wraps and put up a good representation for her husband.

Okay, the deal is done. Mr Goldberg, please call a meeting of management for 9 am tomorrow where I would announce the appointment of Fred Coker as the new MD/CEO of Renato Nigeria. Meanwhile, prepare his letter of appointment for me to sign while you inform him to see me at my hotel tonight at 7pm to inform him personally before the official announcement tomorrow morning.

~ © Kay Lord

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