Some months after finishing Youth Service, I got a job. It meant I would move to Abuja. I was excited because it was not a bad starting point. The salary was ok and I would have a driver and a company car.
I started off at the head office in Jos. Then when the Abuja shop was open, my boss asked me to follow him to Abuja. I would then proceed to Lagos for a training.
It was exciting for me. Finally, after years of schooling, I was going to finally start a career.
We got into Abuja late, he had somehow dilly dallied in the office. When we got to Abuja and he said he had some errands that were work related and I had to follow him since I was going to be in charge of those things.
It was almost midnight when he was through talking to people I did not know about what I did not know about. I was more than ready to be dropped off at my sister’s house for the night. He said he had bought an early ticket to Lagos for me and another staff who I hadn’t met yet.
I did not know the direction to my sister’s house. I knew the address. He feigned ( I am sure) not knowing the area well and that it was late. He said, we would stay in the hotel and leave 6a.m to Lagos.
He was an ‘oga’.
I was partly in awe of him; calling him sir per second.
He had been very business-like with me; no playing.
So I remember being sure that we would be in separate rooms. He lead me to where I was supposed to sleep. And proceeded to unwind there.
I finally worked up the courage to ask him where he was going to sleep. He said we were sharing a room.
I excused myself and took my travelling bag to the toilet and locked myself up. I stayed there for a while wondering what to do. it was almost 1am. I felt stupid and naïve for finding myself in a hotel room with him. But his business like manner threw me off scent. I was young and very inexperienced.
I wore my tightest pair of jeans; a friend once told me of how a girl wasn’t raped in a robbery because her jeans was too difficult to come off.
I stayed there for long hoping he would sleep.
When I came out, he was sleeping on the bed.
I lay a distance from the bed on the floor. I couldn’t sleep. He woke up and asked me to join him on the bed. I refused.
He laughed at how I was behaving like a small girl. I told him I was engaged.
I stayed on the floor till morning.
In the morning, he was all business like and I was whisked off to the airport with the other staff, a guy. We went to Lagos and did the training. When we finished, he asked for us to wait for him somewhere. He sent the guy off with airfare and some errands to run for him in Lagos. He said we were going back together.
He dilly dallied again. And I found myself in the same situation. Without airfare or even knowing anyone to call in Lagos. He paid for only one room and I wore my jeans again.
He started making promises.
“I will buy you a car.”
“I will relocate you to London.”
“I will buy you anything you want.’’
“I am not a small boy, I will give you pleasure even if it is to lick you down there very well.”
I was angry at myself for still being in this same position. I was ready to quit the job.
He had bought me a designer bag, nightwear and lace fabrics (if you read my last article on tailors you will be surprised I am now saying fabric instead of material, upgrade Biodun 2.0…)
I still refused.
I did not sleep a wink as I sat in a chair till morning.
When we got back to Abuja the next day, I called a friend of mine and told her everything and that I was quitting.
I will never forget what she told me.
“How many jobs will you quit? It is like that almost everywhere. Men expect to get sex from their female subordinates especially if they own the companies. You have to find a way to parry his advances without offending him. Hopefully, you will be a hard worker and he will think you a prude and leave you alone. Consider this as a training on how to survive office life.”
He gave me the gifts that I refused again and I collected the bag and the nightgown (I promptly dashed out not) so as not to offend him.
At that point, I think he thought I was just playing hard to get and it excited him as the promises just kept on rolling out.
I was now at my sister’s house. I had sworn never ever to enter any hotel for any reason with him. I resumed work and luckily for me, he was back at the head office.
He visited intermittently. Once he came with his wife and child. As her back was turned to me, he mouthed the words
“I love you”.
I had celebrated getting a job with my friends and family, I did not want to have to drag my tail between my legs and go back to job searching from my father’s house, even though my parents would have understood.
I kept handling this man.
Our first client started asking me out. Seriously.
He was a married man. He gave the impression my cooperation would put us in a favourable position to get the job.
I had no intention of dating him but I became nice to him. Saying no in a way that was not offensive but suggested that all hope was not lost. I wanted to prove my mettle to my boss so that he would stop harassing me and appreciate how good I was at the job.
This potential client was on my case and even bought me a designer wristwatch. I refused invitations to lunch, dinner and especially hotels; I had learnt a lesson on that already. I accepted the watch but gave it to my cousin. I wanted him to be happy. I was friendly to him. This was simply to get the job.
He sent me a text one day saying he missed me and that he was out of town but coming in that day. I thought about a lot of things and I decided to say something nice with the hope of clinching the deal. I responded that I missed him too.
He was over the moon. And promised to sign over the job to us.
I was feeling cool with myself. I had gotten the job with unbuttoning my blouse.
That was till later on in the night.
My phone rang.
“Hello, I am Mrs X and I want to know what you are doing with my husband”
Insert female emoji with hands on head here. It was the most awkward conversation ending with her saying she believed me and even prayed (!#$$%%#@) for my future life partner.
The next day he was at my office. I warned him sternly and was candid for the first time. Are you giving us the job or not. He did. But he told me that speaking to his wife didn’t change how he felt about me.
Not long after that I left the job.
A lot of men feel entitled to sex from a woman because she is a subordinate, an employee, marketer or even just because she is a woman.
This is my introductory article to speak about sexual assault and harassment that has become a woman’s normal. I am bent on telling our stories. So that you understand what it means to be a woman in corporate Nigeria.
Next Monday guys… somebody is calling me from za oza room….
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My people, Buhari don do us “one chance” – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha