Ever since the Cadbury Plc Saga with Bunmi Oni, many of us young career people and entrepreneurs who valued the integrity for which Bunmi Oni had been known, have wondered. We have wondered what exactly happened, is it true? Did he really defraud the company? Did he defraud the Shareholders? We searched frantically through the papers for a clue of his response, we longed to see him, and ask, “what is your version of the story?” For years, Bunmi Oni was the business icon of integrity and a role model to many of us who wanted to do things right. He was the beacon of hope, that in a dark dark world of guerrilla managerial gimmicks and self aggrandizing maneuvers, it was still possible to rise to the top of an establishment and play big time in Nigeria’s business terrain without compromising true north values. All that was challenged when the issues were raised. Many of us jumped into conclusions, some of us hoped for his comments and assumed that the silence of a man of integrity meant consent. In a 4hrs meeting with him yesterday his testimony shocked me, and rekindled the light of hope in my mind for value based thinking and integrity. I asked him before I left (I went with a colleague though), if I was allowed to talk about this, and … I am…
The first question he asked me when I dropped the bombshell was, “how much time do you have?” I told him I was willing to wait for as long as it was going to take. When he continued the story, I understood it perfectly. I had also spend 4yrs plus working in a manufacturing company and was fully in touch with the experiences he shared.
The details of the interview and the things I learnt from Bunmi Oni cannot be shared in one post, expect me to complete this episode in the next coming days. But here are a few quick outlooks.
1. No personal profits were made – Bunmi Oni did not defraud the company in any way. Cadbury together with all the bodies that investigated the case have published publicly that no personal profits or gains were made from whatever they claimed happened.
2. He did nothing Wrong – I’m not a judge, but I have high personal and moral standards. I listened to the accusations against him, the things they said, and the things they kept from saying, and frankly if Bunmi Oni can be faulted for integrity, then there is no man known to me on earth that has it. He did all that he did in the integrity of his heart and in the best interest of the company and it’s shareholders. I pride myself as one that can be trusted, and one that will swear to his hurt and stand by it. This man still stands tall as a role model for these values in my eyes.
3. Underneath the activities seen on the surface is a clear plot to introduce a foreign MD to Cadbury Nigeria Plc operations. Under Bunmi Oni’s watch, he had stood against any unnecessary overstay by any expatriate. He always gave firm timelines by which they must have developed a successor, he always ensured that when it came to the machines, Nigeria had the best, not the ever frequently suggested second hands -“tokunbo”. Bunmi is an Nigerian with a lot of pride in his nation and race, and might have been positioned as a necessary prey for Cadbury Uk plot to have more control access to the Nigerian market. In contrast with companies like Procter and Gamble who have never had a Local Sales, Finance or Plant director, let alone a Managing Director, Cadbury Plc management have proved themselves exceptional.
4. The investigators PWC UK, who were given the “brief” to investigate the case, did not have a single interview with Bunmi Oni before submitting their case. The reported that there was no money stolen, they also reported a lot of funny petty things, that are just so absurd. Remember, they did not even bother to ask him for his perspectives or defense on any of the issues. It seemed a Kangaroo arrangement with unpublicized objectives.
5. When it became apparent that the case was not going to be as easy as to discredit Bunmi Oni, get him out of the picture and get someone else (Expatriate) in, and that the SEC injunction was going to have repercussions on more than Bunmi Oni as an individual, they started communicating with him on the possibility of working together to clear the issues with SEC, after which they will unsay what they have said and make full restitution. As of today, he is yet to be paid a kobo of amounts due to him, for serving Cadbury for 29yrs like his own company. He has gone ahead to sue Cadbury and SEC, and the matter is now in court. He only kept quiet all along because he believed that Court was a last resort to resolving disputes, maybe he was wrong.
He shared a few lessons learnt, a few philosophical changes and shared wisdom for our generation. Like I said it’s too much to be said in a single post, but have this for a fact – Bunmi Oni still remains a role model for integrity, Bunmi Oni did not do so many of the funny things that have filtered out with his name on it. Bunmi Oni took responsibility for managing the company in days of success and in times of failure. Bunmi Oni’s career has been impeccable for 29yrs, out of which he had spent 10 as MD of Cadbury.
I’ll give you a lot more of the details shortly. Till then, you can get to read his news articles on www.bunmispeaks.blogspot.com. The only reaction that is required by good for evil to rule is silence, the only reaction for light to cooperate with darkness is not to express.