It was way past the closing time, Femi still sat at his work station, thinking on how to solve the problem at hand. The management had given him the task of negotiating with the community to avoid more distractions to their ongoing project. Well, he has always seen himself as a problem-solver and prides himself on his ability to manage a crisis.
He was invited to the M.D’s office a month ago and without mincing words, the M.D told him his plans. “I am setting up a new committee, I will be the head of this committee, but I will be working with you a lot”. “Yes, Sir”, he nodded in response.
“I even had to go through your file again and I saw negotiation was among the skills you claim to have. We need to resolve this issue quickly and I need all hands on deck. I am not proud of the way Corporate Communications handled it. So please come up with ideas, let’s see at 10 am tomorrow morning.
He was aware of the ongoing issues, they even lost one of their drivers, who was lynched to death by angry youths that claimed they were not settled by the contractors. “Settle yourselves”, the local Government Chairman told them. The State Government was concerned with one thing: the project must be delivered. Everyone seems to be protecting their office, they need the cooperation of these youths for the next election which is just around the corner.
The former committee had tried to employ the use of the military, it only worsened the situation as the youths also used dangerous weapons to fight back and it resulted in the death of one of the youths. The military men claimed they were only trying to stop the riot. Everywhere was calm for some days and then the company even though they had won.
Then the youths came back unannounced and in full force and had increased in number. Seemed they went to call their counterparts from a neighbouring village, they attacked the workers on-site and even killed one driver, kidnapped two expatriates. It is now Operation-stop-the-project.
In no time, it was clear they had the support of top government officials now.
“You got a contract worth over Five (5) billion Naira from the State Government, all you should have done is settle them with the fifty million they demanded, not kill one of them”, the DPO said in anger in his office. We didn’t kill him, it was an act of defence, they attacked the workers first. Clearly, this case is taking a new turn.
The first committee claimed they offered Fifteen (15) million Naira but the youths refused it. The youth president had a one-on-one with the company’s committee and promised to pacify the youths if the money was given to him.
Upon receipt, the youth president claimed that the money was an honorarium, so he never delivered anything to his people, another twist which led to dissolving the first committee and some people might even lose their jobs if care is not taken.
The company is under a tremendous amount of pressure. The State Governor has called one of the board of directors and expressed his displeasure. “Clean up this mess or lose the contract!”
They’re now faced with 3 major routes that are not necessarily mutually exclusive:
- Get the two expatriates back
- Settle the families of the dead (their driver and the youth member)
- Pay the youths the ‘developmental fee’ which has now increased to five hundred million Naira
Only then can the project continue.
It was a lot on the company’s plate, but Femi was ready to take the bull by the horns. Stay tuned for next week’s edition of #Thursday to see the set of actions Femi takes to rise up to the challenge.
Enjoy the rest of your day.