The Internal Control Officers are often derided in banks because of their unenviable task of ensuring compliance and control in their domain. Often isolated in their own offices, with powers to superintend over their seniors, they are habitually treated with suspicion as the successful execution of their duties spells doom, usually implying the uncovering of some malpractices by their colleagues. At first glance, Kunle would not strike one as a Control Personnel as his suave and arrogant mien didn’t fit the mould. He was one of those diaspora breed that swarmed the banking industry at some point, easily distinguishable with their foreign accents and unfounded air of importance. His likes abound in Head Office Units like Investment Banking, Transaction Banking, Strategy, Brand Development etc. How he ended up in Control & Compliance was a mystery but Kunle took no notice of his squalid surroundings and dignified his office in that Lagos Island branch.
Despite Henry’s attempt to convince him to drop his investigation, his stubborn streak held sway. Henry had been persuaded by the others to find a way to dissuade him, exploiting their relationship developed in the impassioned moments spent analysing the performance of their team; Arsenal. Kunle however saw through him and warned him off sternly; “Henry, this matter is off limits… just stay out of this”.
When by the next morning, Ben had been invited to face the dreaded disciplinary committee, Kunle had sought to have a word with Henry, in his office. “Mate”, he began, “I tell you, these your guys are devilish. I submitted my report yesterday to my Boss and we discussed my recommendations. He is always measured in his approach and there is absolutely no chance he would counter my position without intimating me. Even if he were to do so, he wouldn’t have acted so swiftly. Clearly, someone in this branch had hijacked the situation and taken tales to Head Office and making it look as if they were acting based on my report. The truth however is that I only recommended a warning as he is a first offender”. Kunle was clearly upset with the whole scenario and told Henry of his suspicions concerning Olu. He equally used the opportunity to justify his decision to file the report, reasoning that he would have been indicted for concealing information if all these had played out without a report from him.
Ben, realising that his fate had been sealed with the disciplinary committee’s draconian reputation, resigned his appointment that day. In his typically analytical manner, he had reasoned that the evidence against him were too strong for him to weather the storm. There was no point exposing himself to the ignominy of facing a likely expulsion from the bank. The bank quickly acted by replacing him the very next day with Stella, who had been his back up for a while. Afterwards, the branch was honoured with an august visit by the Regional Manager and the Divisional Head, to read the riot act.
Stella’s tenure brought some level of sanity to the branch and the daily intrigues became almost non-existent. She adroitly navigated the land mines set for her and maintained a high level of team spirit in the branch. Even Olu made an effort to contribute more to the branch. He had never hidden his disdain for the rudimentary aspects of the job like writing credits, preparing reports and all the desk work, preferring instead to hit the streets, pull the strings and bring big transactions to the branch. Olu’s father was quite influential and his outgoing son naturally took advantage of his father’s contacts to bring in deals for the branch.
Henry was later to find out that Kunle’s suspicions were not unfounded. Olu, who had the ears of the Divisional Head, had filled him in, well ahead of the filing of Kunle’s report. Not wanting to take any chances on the grave attempt by Ben to discredit him, he had quickly taken advantage of a channel that had been open to him all along. The scion of the influential Oluleye family, he was in line to inherit a burgeoning business empire and was only at the bank because of his father’s convictions that banking would instil in him the requisite discipline to take their business to the next level. Olu would eventually let out that he cultivated the perceived friendship with Ben just to defuse the tense situation between them. All the while, he still nursed a grudge towards Ben for his hard line stance on his last appraisal. Ben had detailed Olu’s shortcomings and his passionate plea that the remarks should be toned down fell on deaf ears. “Olu”, he had declared dismissively, “what I have documented is my candid opinion and unfortunately, I do not believe in cosmetics”. In his warped mind, Ben had considered any change on the appraisal as some sort of make-up to beautify his assessment of Olu to what it is not. Henry recalled finding his use of the word “cosmetics” in relation to such a critical matter, quite ludicrous.
The decision to replace Ben from within, paid huge dividends as the branch excelled on all fronts. The experience with Ben was a lesson on the dangers of misuse of power. Ben’s impulsion to control, isolated him and left him exposed to the kind of counter plot that unseated him. He had no allies and in his blind desperation to settle scores, he found himself outwitted. Conversely, Stella’s spirit, character and her open and inclusive approach endeared her to everyone. It became easier for the team to pull together and achieve set targets. The deceptively jovial Olu was back to his comic best, entertaining rather than scheming.
In one of their usual evening banters, Chuma had summed up the recent events with a vintage proverb; “The fellow in pursuit of the hen is destined to fall, while the hen continues her lithesome flight”. His words elicited a good laugh but the import of the message wasn’t lost on anyone.