How MKO became MD of ITT after the Battle of London

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MKO; The Man who got the desired breakthrough for ITT in Nigeria

A hero’s welcome. That was what Moshood received in his office that evening as he displayed the check for all to see. He told the staff how things had worked out but most of them did not believe him. They thought he had a secret that he had kept to himself. That same day, on his way home, he decided to travel to the London office as soon as possible to give a face-to- face account of what had transpired. Deep down he feared that someone else might take the credit for his achievement. After a few days he was on his way to London.
London was glittering when he arrived. It seemed different from his university days. Moshood had observed this right from the airport, and by the time he was on the highway into the city, he marveled at the dazzling splendor before him. London was equally as beautiful as Manhattan, he quietly observed. That night Moshood hoped that his future was about to become as bright as London or Manhattan.

He had become fiercely ambitious and often wondered how. Since he held the three-and-a-half million pound check in his hand, he had become a bolder man-a man who wanted to be more than comfortable and influential. A man who wanted to be rich and powerful. Gone were the days when he wished to own an accounting firm. He now wanted much more in life. He wanted to own industries and factories, but he would start by trying his best to become the managing director of ITT in Nigeria from this trip.

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It was this new ambition that drew his attention that evening to details that had never been of any concern to him in the past. He wanted to know whether his company’s management had been honest when it stated that it had borrowed money to execute its projects, and if that was true, he wondered why. After all, the company made enough yearly profits to be able to finance its  own projects by now. He felt a need to get to the bottom of this matter because if he did not, he would never be in a position to know what the company’s real profit was, which would make it impossible for him to know his rightful share of that real profit.
Realizing that he was treading on dangerous grounds, Moshood decided to soft-pedal. Becoming the overall boss in Nigeria should be the primary goal of this trip. Trying to own shares would be secondary. All of a sudden it dawned on him that his promotion would likely lead to the dismissal of his boss. This made him feel guilty but he was soon consoled by the fact that he, and not his boss, was the one who did the real work in the company, and that, despite this glaring fact, he had to put up with the man’s dictatorial attitude. Furthermore he knew for a fact that the company would give his boss a fantastic retirement package if he were to be retired. That was how Moshood put that matter behind him. He was exhausted when he got to his hotel at 9:30 p.m. He slept at once. This was the first time that he went to bed without having dinner after arriving at a new destination. His meeting with management was at 11 a.m. the following day but he was there earlier, as usual. But this time he was two hours early, which was a new punctuality record for him.

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‘‘The business climate in Nigeria is changing. Gone are the days when government officials like to deal with foreigners. Today they prefer to work with a multinational company that has a local Nigerian at the helm. This fact, and not just my doggedness and effective persuasive skills, contributed to this payment that our company has just received recently after such a long wait”

The meeting was with his boss in the London office and two other senior executives. It was rosy at the beginning because Moshood, sounding like a war hero, gave them a full account of how he was able to get the payment. His boss even teased him. “If things had not worked out as you had planned, we might have had to come and bail you out of jail because of the way you confronted the colonel’’
Moshood nodded in agreement. “You might even have been thrown into jail as well for trying to bail me out”. There was a loud round of laughter. Moshood seized the opportunity of the joyful atmosphere to set the negotiation ball rolling. “Gentlemen, there is an important issue at hand. Can I have an additional thirty minutes of your time?” His boss gave him the green light to proceed. “Thank you sir! The business climate in Nigeria is changing. Gone are the days when government officials like to deal with foreigners. Today they prefer to work with a multinational company that has a local Nigerian at the helm. This fact, and not just my doggedness and effective persuasive skills, contributed to this payment that our company has just received recently after such a long wait”

He paused to look at each of them. They had all stopped smiling. “My proposal in a nutshell is to be put in charge of our operations in Nigeria. I would also like to own shares in the company, which will serve the company’s interest before mine. It will make me more motivated to produce the kind of result that I recently produced” He paused again for a few seconds.

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One of the men wanted to say something but Moshood resumed his monologue. “Aside from that, the Nigerian government, which is seriously considering an indigenization policy, will favor ITT because it would be on record that the company implements policies that are favorable to Nigerians”
Moshood presented all the facts at once because he knew the kind of people he was dealing with. They always wanted the facts right away. One of the men laughed after a brief pause then asked mockingly. “Since when did the Nigerian government care about whether a Nigerian was at the helms of a multinational’s affairs? Besides, why do we have to change things when we already have in place a system that works?” He sighed. “If it is about monetary compensation, you are already covered, Moshood. Remember that we are mandated to give you a bonus, based on your performance, at the end of every year”

Moshood felt insulted. “Offering bonuses is an excellent motivational tactic but at some point, it should be considered as cheating. I am sure that you will agree with me that there are many better ways of rewarding a staff member who saves a company from imminent collapse shortly after he was just recently appointed” He was stammering, a sign of his anger. “With all due respect, has my current boss in Nigeria done a quarter of what I have done or what I am planning to do for this company? People even laughed at me at the ministry of defense whenever I told them I was just a controller in this company, and not the managing director”

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The men looked confused. They started talking to each other in hushed tones. One of them looked at Moshood very inquisitively then asked sternly, “To cut a long story short, you are asking for too much, two things at the same time. How can you want a promotion and shares just like that? We have never offered an employee that kind of a package. Aside from that, you have not clearly spelled out what we are going to get in return”.  He paused, and then quickly added, “You should do that, but bear in mind that my question is merely out of curiosity since, as you know, I am not empowered to act on such matters”
The question was expected. But all of a sudden Moshood had lost his confidence. He paused before he finally replied, hoping that his anxiety would be unnoticeable. “Thank you, sir. I was worried that you would never ask that question. Nigeria’s new rulers are patriotic. They want Nigeria to be independent in fact and in deed and this independence should be visible, they say, in corporations where Nigerian nationals will be calling the shots. If I become the managing director of ITT Nigeria, and the owner of some of its shares, this company will be easier to market through my new strong links with the military command. This company will crush all competition and secure deals of a lifetime for ITT”

Moshood was surprised that he was able to say those things. He had exaggerated his capabilities. He had indeed become friends with Colonel Murthala Mohammed but his relationship with him, or other members of the military high command, was not the kind of bond that would have guaranteed securing huge contracts for ITT. But since that was his intention he was going to give it his best shot. There was no going back.
His audience, to his delight, seemed convinced. They kept whispering to each other. One of them finally broke the silence.
“Your first request, the one concerning being made the managing director, might be eventually feasible but the other one, which has to do with owning shares, is impossible. This is my honest opinion of what I believe will be management’s position”
Moshood quickly replied. “I think it would be best to let management decide for itself. But I will urge you to present the facts as I have because they illustrate the true picture of things out there in the field”.

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The man laughed. “As you wish, I will send a memo to New York via fax this morning. Let’s meet again tomorrow by four p.m”
They all stood up, shook hands and parted ways. Moshood was worried. He felt that he had been rather impolite at the end. He went back to his hotel room and never came out till the following day, an hour before his appointment.
He was very nervous when he arrived at the meeting. But all that changed when the others came and he saw the warm smiles on their faces. Once seated, Moshood greeted the men, one after the other, before one of them made a hasty declaration. “This meeting will be very brief. Your requests have been considered and, as hinted earlier, the first one was approved. The second one, on the other hand, was rejected. In other words, you will be the company’s managing director in Nigeria but you will have no shares in the company”. He paused and looked sharply at Moshood. His tone became very stem. “You made pledges yesterday, very big ones, in my presence and that of these two gentlemen. Even though those pledges were not made in writing, management will hold you accountable for them. It is only fair it does. Make sure that you always keep that in mind”
There was a long silence. Moshood knew that his last sentence was a warning. His response was firm. “I thank management for granting one of my two requests. Half of anything is better than nothing. I will return to Nigeria and multiply my efforts so that my other request will be granted as well as soon as possible. I will even try to do more than my pledges”
The men seemed impressed by his resolution. The meeting ended on that note. They all stood up at once and shook Moshood’s hand, one by one, before leading him to an office where he picked up his letter of appointment as the managing director of ITT in Nigeria. He was thrilled as he returned to his hotel. At least part of his gamble had paid off.

(Excerpts from the book, The President Who Never Ruled by Jamiu Abiola; get copies in any book shop across the world or write Jamiu Abiola through Read How MKO became Wealthy & Polygamous in our next post on this blog)

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