Ayoola Was A Faithful Servant, But Look What Happened To Him
Mr Ojo Akin had tried so hard to make sure his children go to school.
He gave the Public Works Department (PWD) 35 years of his life. He witnessed Nigeria's cross over from colonial rule to independence.
He had seen educated white men and women head the Lagos office of the organisation and that spurred him to aim higher.
"If they can do it, why can't we do it even better", he said.
Mr Akin had managed to rise to level 10 all through his years of service, a period he will forever thank God for.
Ayoola, Akin’s son, had benefited from his father’s commitment to a desire to see his children through the university.
He had studied Public Administration and had been employed by the government in its employment administrative office.
As an admin officer, he was required to ensure the right persons with the right educational qualification and knowledge are employed into the right offices.
Thus he resumed every day with one prayer in his heart; “God help me to employ the right persons into the right positions for my country”.
Ayoola had been in the parastatal for years and had been promoted several times, but the promotion did not make so much change to his salary at the end of every month.
Housing provision has been bastardised. The opportunity of owning a car usually given to graduates like him was pushed aside - no thanks to the military regime that had taken over power few years ago.
He works and waits until his retirement to use his gratuity to build for himself a house while he relies on his pension to stay alive.
Circumstances are forcing Ayoola to gradually lose faith in his prayers while he considers how much service he gives and how much he has rejected bribes because he believes in Nigeria.
His thoughts were getting consumed by reflections of how much money offered as gift he had also refused to take just because he wanted to serve his country. His father had told him gifts could also steal his loyalty and integrity.
The second voice in his head is getting mad at him because he could have built a house, bought a nice car like the politicians, most of whom are not as educated as he is.
On this day at work, he had to make a crucial decision.
He had come in earlier than resumption time, a habit he had acquired from his father, and on his table was an envelope.
His had left the the office in a hurry the previous day because he wanted to hitch a ride with his boss.
His office’s secretary had informed him of an envelope for him but he told her to drop it on his table.
Ayoola could not afford a car. His entire salary in a year is a little above 100,000 Naira which is also a little above the price of a brand new Peugeot 504. The car was a delight for civil servants at that time.
His second mind usurped his thought again this time urging him to pick the envelope that fortune was knocking at his door.
Reluctantly, he stretched forth his hands, picked it, opened it and brought out a paper he could recognise very well - a cheque.
It was in his name.
He looked to the usual right hand area of the cheque where the figures written are easily grasped. The amount he saw erased doubt of, fear and even shifted his faith further.
In his hands was the fulfillment of his dream of buying a 504 car and also having enough money to begin his house and take it to lintel level.
He looked at the name of the signatory, it was that of a well known man within the country and he shuddered.
Behind the cheque was a hand written note - “This is for you. I will send my son to your office tomorrow for employment into the budget department. What he studied does not matter. You will know him when he mention’s my surname. I count on you”.
Straight to the point; it was nothing so different from what he had seen before.
He slumped into his chair but held onto the envelope. He could sense his good conscience being subdued.
Ayoola had fought hard to remain faithful, loyal and honest, but the amount in the cheque was bargaining for those ideals.
The service he had rendered with his strength were getting swept away in a jiffy, defending the nation’s unity was getting weighed in the balance against a huge amount. It could be his wealth, as his name represents, he thought.
He could hear himself say "I can't take bribes"; but the voice was faint. It was not certain, he could sense something had changed about himself.
He took the cheque, called his office assistant, wrote his account number on the back side and gave it to him.
Ali, who had not received a cheque from his boss before, managed to read the figures in the cheque and asked; “what for, sir”?
The amount was significant enough to make Ali ask more questions.
Ayoola hesitated, battling between telling him a lie and telling him what the cheque was for.
When he found his voice, he said: “Please, go to the bank and pay it into the account number at the back. When you get there, a bank official will help you fill the deposit slip”.
Ali left with the cheque, headed for the bank with a seed that had twisted the arm of faith and the fate of a nation.
When Ayoola walked out of the office that day, he could not feel his legs. He knew he would have to explain what happened to his wife when he gets home.
Nothing would remain the same again. Ayoola was now like the others - A big MAN.