Rain watched with fascination as Mr. Wakama sprayed money on Mrs. Edozie. He was adept at this owambe thing and it didn’t come to her as a surprise. He was the loud and flashy type.
From where she sat, Rain couldn’t tell if it was naira, pounds or dollar bills being trampled on by Madam’s dancing feet. All she could see was the jostling of the who-is-who in Yenagoa and beyond, as they scrambled to out-spray and out-dance themselves to the music of Barrister Smooth and his Ijaw Mamiwater Dance Band.
All the pushing and shoving for space and the right camera angles, going on around the celebrant and his wife wasn’t Rain’s thing so she sat quietly in the section of the marquee reserved for staff of Edozie Express. Rain watched the currency desecration with disgust. She never really understood the need for that measure of ostentatious display. The wastefulness and sycophancy on parade made her cringe.
Inevitably, she too would have to go out to the dance floor and do the same thing while attempting the basic owigiri dance moves she leant from her mother as a little girl, and it made her nervous. Rain wasn’t much of a dancer, in fact, she had just three go-to moves for nights she went clubbing, but company rules demanded that she must dance and Human Resources and their enforcers were watching every employee for compliance.
Rain didn’t like that it was kind of compulsory to mingle and she wasn’t looking forward to it. However, she had stayed in the company long enough to know that it was an important aspect of company politics and culture to appear in pictures and videos at such occasions for the time when the family would play back and do a roll-call of who showed up and who didn’t. In the company, they called it “show face” and it was a prerequisite for securing promotions, office space, bonuses, trainings and foreign trips.
Across the hall from where her boss and his wife danced with their rich and famous associates, their children and their own younger crowd of slay kings and queens were doing their own thing. In between the live performances by invited artistes, DJ Neptune entertained Klarissa, Kennedy and Kobi’s friends to a mix of latest party hits from Nigeria’s top acts. These were the songs on every hip person’s playlist.
When Fireboy DML’s song, Scatter came on, Rain remembered D3. It was one of his favourite songs at the moment. If he was there, she knew he would have started jumping and hollering, “My jam!” as he did when they were clowning in the house. He would have made her dance even though he knew she didn’t know how. He would have scattered the tent and stolen the show with his own version of new and old dance steps. David had moves and seeing all the young people dancing with such reckless abandon made her wish she had invited him as her plus one for the night.
If he was with her, maybe she would have been able to relax, let her hair down and enjoy the night instead of agonising over the troubling discoveries she made in Dubai.
At first, she didn’t know why he wanted her to accompany him on the trip because there was no briefing on what specifically she’d be doing when they arrived the resplendent emirate. Mr. Wakama only told her to speak with HR about arrangements for her visa, flights and accommodation. They could have travelled together but he said she should proceed without him because he had some personal business to attend to in Port Harcourt. He arrived two days after she checked into the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. When they met for breakfast by the poolside, Mr. Waks told her he wanted her to enjoy the beauty of a truly modern city before the real work commenced. And it started that afternoon.
While he attended to some other business engagements that brought him to Dubai, Mr. Wakama had her going through some files in Chief Edozie’s expansive offices in Deira. It was an impressive piece of real estate that served as a hub for his offshore investments.
She didn’t have to use a fine toothcomb, to notice that figures reported as inflows and outflows weren’t adding up. The books held in the Accounts section were anything but neat. Taking advantage of her boss’ long absences, Rain explored his office and discovered more files from the cabinet he told her not to bother with because they were for transactions that were either not approved or closed. Those files painted a different story about payments and transfers that were very different from what Mr. Wakama wanted her to believe.
Nearly all of the discrepancies were traceable to authorisations made by the CFO himself and it gave her serious cause for concern. Something was wrong, something was very wrong and she needed to let Chief in on it so he could do something fast. Her recommendation would be to bring in a team of forensic auditors to look at all the books, especially those in the Yenagoa office because Mr. Wakama had been stonewalling her for weeks whenever she asked him about the value of ongoing contracts and corresponding bank statements. He was happy to give her the run-around and processing her entitlements and benefits, but he never gave her anything she asked for when it came to the actual job she was being paid so much to perform.
Rain had requested a sit-down with Chief Edozie to share her concerns about everything she had uncovered so far and an appointment had been confirmed for the coming Tuesday.
Thinking about what could happen on Tuesday filled Rain with apprehension she didn’t need in a weekend meant for drinking, dancing, eating and making merry.
Tuesday was pivotal, but in the present, Rain rationalised within herself, nothing was more pivotal than dancing with Padrino and spraying him money.
“I think she suspects something. When we were in Dubai, she kept asking questions that made me believe she may have seen or heard something.” Donald Wakama waited until nearly all the party guests had left before cornering Ohita Edozie for a private conversation in one of the rooms in the Edozie mansion. “Even when we got back, she wanted to see contract documents and bank statements she has no business looking at.”
“What is she now, an auditor?” Mrs. Edozie asked in annoyance.
“Chief gave her considerable latitude.”
“Are you blaming my husband for your carelessness?”
“No, Madam. I just think that with your intervention she can be made to stay in her lane.”
“You want me to ask Chief to fire her, is that what you’re saying?” Mrs. Edozie said, taking off her shoes and gele.
“Not exactly, Madam. I just wanted you to know she’s been asking questions.”
“Wakama, remember when I told you that my husband was getting suspicious with things around the office, and that you needed to be careful?”
“Yes, I do?”
“What was your response to me then?”
“I assured you that I had everything under control.”
“Do you still feel that way now?”
“I do, Madam. I have everything under control,” the CFO reiterated even though he didn’t sound as convincing as he did the last time they discussed his handling of the funds his CEO’s wife wanted taken out of the company’s accounts and given to her bankers.
“This Rain is trouble,” Mrs. Edozie brushed aside his feeble attempt at reassurance. “For some reason I can’t place my fingers on, my husband trusts her. I think he brought her in to spy on you and report any anomalies she sees to him.” Mrs. Edozie stopped speaking abruptly. “What exactly is your plan to deal with this issue and make Rain go away?”
“I think I’ve cultivated her friendship and loyalty. Rain might have her suspicions but she owes me too much to throw me under the bus. She knows that everything she has in EE is because of me. The cars, the house, the salary, the travels, I made all that possible. Rain is indebted to me.”
“Well, clearly your strategy of playing Mr. Nice Guy isn’t working if she’s asking the kind of questions you say she is. You have to change tactics. Woo her; make her fall in love with you. Sleep with her if you must; do anything to keep her distracted and far away from our business with EE finances.”
“In case that busy body girl doesn’t know, EE finances belong to my husband and I am entitled to every kobo of it. And I swear, if Chief finds out that I’ve been stealing his money, that girl would pay.”
“I promise you, Mrs. Edozie. I will take care of Rain.”