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Cruelty is an understatement

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The atmosphere was so tense; I could swear I was hearing TK’s heart beating from where he sat beside me, or was it my heart? What had happened? Was TK related to me? Was my dad the leader of a criminal gang? My imagination was running wild and I was worried I would explode any minute.
Me: Can someone please just tell me what is going on here?

TK’s Dad: About two decades ago, I owned a bank, a mortgage bank called Pinnacle. Mortgage banks weren’t very popular in the country at the time and so I had a revolutionary idea to be a pace setter. The bank was doing pretty well considering the state of the economy at the time, I had other businesses and investments and of course my family inheritance. So it was ok to keep fuelling my passion until it actually started making good profit. One day, I met your father Chief Badmus at a mutual friend’s home and we got talking. He told me about a vast piece of land his late father had left to him on the outskirts of town which was soon to become prime property as Lagos state developed. The area he was referring to at the time is the Lekki/Ajah axis we have today.

He had an idea that we should develop a massive estate someone there and facilitate the purchase of the flats and duplexes exclusively through my mortgage bank. It was a win-win situation for both of us, he was to make money from the sale of the property and Pinnacle was to eventually get the clientele we had been sourcing for but there was a problem. We needed funds to set the ball rolling. At the time, the project ran into hundreds of millions. We both agreed to pull the resources together and become co-owners. I took out loans from a few banks for the project, of course, they were willing to give me the funds based on my family’s name and my business track record. How could an Ayo-Kessington default on a loan? I liquidated a lot of my assets and made them available for the project. We were to work with a foreign construction company. Since the Badmus family also had investments in the construction industry,
I left a lot of the day to day running of the project in his care while I focused on my businesses and my mortgage bank.

A few months into the project, I became uncomfortable; the project had not kicked off even though we supposedly had all the funds we needed. He was constantly blaming it on delays in obtaining permits from the state government and all the necessary approvals. Since I had a direct link to the governor at the time I decided to step in. With the governor’s assistance I was able to meet with the people who were responsible for issuing the permits. To my utmost dismay, no such request had been filed. I didn’t know what was wrong and I didn’t want Akin, your father to know I was on to him so I started investigating what was going on. In the course of my investigations, I discovered that whilst the land did belong to his father and had been passed on to him as he said, a commercial bank he owed a lot of money had seized the land because he had presented it to them as collateral. I also discovered through my sources, that he had used the funds for our project to settle his numerous creditors and had also used our partnership agreement as bait to lure some other investors to invest into what was presented to them as a Pinnacle Mortgage Bank project. In summary, he had used my company and unquestionable reputation to scam some innocent people of their hard earned money. I knew I was in trouble but I couldn’t tell anyone, not even my wife; because she had warned me about the deal but I did not listen to her.

I got my lawyers to start working on evidence that could help us prosecute him and recover the funds because all the evidence I had, were illegally obtained and were not admissible in court. Unfortunately, before we were able to act, investors began knocking on our doors asking why the project was being delayed. I knew I had to do something so I went to Akin and confronted him. He pretended not to understand what was going on. Unfortunately, the tip off was all he needed to flee the country in the guise of going to a business school abroad. I was arrested a few days later and of course, the situation I had hidden from my wife was unveiled. Tokunboh, as you can imagine your mother was furious. Her first instinct was to keep the story out of the press, pay people to keep quiet and not spread the news. My bail was set at a ridiculous amount and she had to raise it so I could be released. We were eventually able to make a case with the intervention of the governor who testified that I had come to meet him for help when I was confused about the project.

Needless to say, it was obvious I had been used but I was an accomplice in the eye of the law. It was a well documented and endorsed partnership and as the CEO of Pinnacle Mortgage Bank, it was my responsibility to ensure that every single investor was refunded. I couldn’t do it on my own so my wife also took some of the heat. She was forced to commit a huge portion of her inheritance and the wealth she had built up over the years to pay off our creditors; I lost my bank and all its assets. I was left to rely on my wife as I lost everything I owned. Akin Badmus used his family name and his street smart intelligence to wriggle himself out of the situation. He did not return to the country until the matter was sorted. I had to start from the scratch and had I not married an equally wealthy woman, I would probably have become a pauper for the rest of my life; you understand that the amount involved at the time would translate to billions of naira now.

That is the reason why my wife can do no wrong in my eyes and I watch while she takes the center stage because really and truly without her, I would probably be in jail right now or bankrupt. When Akin Badmus returned to the country, all his creditors had been settled by me and my family so he had a fresh start. The government in power at the time owed his family a huge favour and so he gave him an oil bloc which led to the birth of Pegasus Oil. He became a billionaire again over night and everyone soon forgot his past. You would think that he would use that as an opportunity to fix his wrongs, instead till this day he denies his involvement in the scam and says he was also played, but considering the fact that it all worked out in his favour I don’t know how that could possibly be true. I could have played dirty and dragged his name through the mud but I had been set up to look like the mastermind of the scam and I was the one with the criminal record.So instead, till this day Akin Badmus and his entire family remain my sworn enemies because they stood by and did nothing while he tried to ruin me and drag my family name through the mud.

I was speechless, first he had abandoned my mother with two kids and then he had done this to TK’s family…what kind of monster was Akin Badmus? I was finding it hard to even respond to all I had heard when the Duchess spoke.

The Duchess: What my husband has also neglected to tell you is that before the unfortunate incidence with the Badmus family, he had been nursing a political ambition all his life to one day rule this country. The reason he had access to the governor at the time was because he was being mentored by him and being groomed to one day become the governor of Lagos state. He was convicted of the crime and has a criminal record to that effect but we were able to keep the matter under wraps after we paid off all the creditors. Money also exchanged hands to keep people quiet and continued exchanging hands. When it was time for him to declare his interest to join active politics, his opponents went after him and uncovered this secret.Obviously, there was no way a fraudster with a criminal record was going to hold any public office let alone become governor or president. He was forced to give up all political aspirations he had previously nursed.

That one encounter with your father changed the course of my life Anjola …the course of all of our lives. I groomed myself from day one to be the wife of the most powerful man in this country. I went to the right schools, supported the right charities, built the right network and this malicious act of your father dashed all of those dreams. I often wondered what would have happened to this family had I not had a fortune or network of my own. That is why you were never good enough for my son.

You need wealth to preserve wealth and I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the legacy we have compromised so much to build and sustain. Adetokunboh perhaps you can now see why I was so hard on you for the foolish investment decision that almost ruined you and almost sent you to jail like your father. I had to step in again and use my money to bail you out. I am sorry but Ayo-Kessington men have a tendency to make costly investment mistakes and it didn’t start with your father. Your grandfather also at some point almost went bankrupt. I did not want it for you which is why I wanted you to end up with a strong woman, and when I say strong, I don’t just mean a woman who can talk back to me but a woman who can give you the kind of support you need mentally and financially. I mean the only job Anjola has ever had is being your PA! How is she supposed to add value to you?
TK: Enough mother! This is not about Anjola please!

TK’s Dad: Adenike after all these years you still don’t get it. What a man needs in a woman are loyalty and unwavering support and not money. You were constantly berating me about how Pinnacle Mortgage Bank was a failure that is why I was so eager to prove you wrong that I jumped into that deal without thinking it through. All you wanted was for me to drop all my other passions and chase after my political career because you wanted to be first lady. You wanted power. You never for once stopped to think about what your constant talking down on me was doing to me. I know you married me because of the family I come from and because you saw me as a ticket to your aspirations and I know I am a disappointment to you but I vowed never to leave you after what you went through for me. You probably just did it to save face but I still appreciate it.

TK’s dad’s words hung in the air like a huge sword that had just spun round the room piercing our hearts. There was so much pain, hurt and regret in his voice and I finally understood why he was the way he was. I remembered vividly that during TK’s financial disaster the Duchess had told me she had only bailed TK’s dad out at the time because she couldn’t imagine being associated with a failure. I saw her looking at me, if I wanted to make her current situation worse all I had to do was mention it to TK but I didn’t want to hurt him. All that his father had said was enough.

The Duchess got up and walked over to her husband:
The Duchess: I am sorry you feel that way. I love you and I have always loved you. You are the one I would choose again no matter what. Please forgive me for the way I have been to you.

TK’s Dad: Adenike you know better than to try to act out a scene for the benefit of our spectators. Let us just keep on with this sham of a marriage, I don’t expect anything else but I would no longer tolerate you interfering in any of our children’s marriages! I don’t want my sons ending up like me. You have done your work on Tomike well, she is turning out to be like you and you see nothing wrong in the fact that at 32 your only daughter has been divorced twice. Men of their generation are not as tolerating as the men in ours were, yet you do not see any of this as an indictment on your parenting skills.

The Duchess: Am I the only one to blame? I wonder where Tokunboh inherited his womanizing ways from, I’m guessing it’s from his father. Since this has become a tell-all meeting, how about we also inform them of the mistress you have kept for the last ten years!
TK: Enough of this madness! Anjola let’s go home, this atmosphere has become toxic.

TK’s Dad: I’m sorry son, I did not mean for things to get out of hand. I just want you and Anjola to know that the decision is up to you as to whether or not you want to have Akin Badmus in your lives. I do not trust the man and I don’t think you should. I mean his abandonment of Anjola and her brother is a very clear indication of what he is capable of doing for his own selfish gain. He has always known where she was and never made a move to contact her, if he wants to meet her now trust me he has a game plan.

TK: Like you said Dad, it’s our decision.
I had remained quiet throughout the entire showdown. TK held my hand and practically guided me to his car because I was in a trance. He asked Akpan my driver who had driven me to The Villa to take my car home. I thought we were headed there but instead TK took me to his golf club to talk.

I sat staring at him and after a while he asked
TK: Anjie what’s on your mind?
Me: TK is it possible to hate someone you haven’t even met?
TK: Anjola you don’t hate your father.

Me: Maybe I don’t hate him but I hate what he has done, to my mother, to my brother, to your parents and their marriage.
TK: How about what he has done to you?

Me: He has done nothing to me TK. I don’t even know the man.
TK: Baby you’re in denial. I think you are more hurt about his silence – despite knowing where you are– than you are letting on. Just own up to pain and let’s deal with it.

Me: I don’t feel any pain TK. It’s fine if he doesn’t want a relationship with me. I have lived without him for thirty years I think I can do it for another sixty years.
TK laughed.

TK: Thirty one years Anjola. You have a birthday coming up.
I smiled; my birthday was a few days away. I couldn’t believe how much had happened in the four years I had been married to TK.
TK: Any birthday wishes?

I shook my head but like I had done every year since my tenth birthday, I made a silent birthday wish, the same one I made every year… I wished my father would come and tell me he was sorry and that he loved me. For some reason I could not explain, I needed his validation. It was critical to the next phase of my life and I knew it.


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