Diary of a Lagos Bachelor: Igbo Girls and 'Illegal Money'


As we talked on phone that night after I spent 11 hours at work, I tried reassuring Obiagheli of my unwavering interest in her.
 
"I care about you so much and I pray things work out as planned; you gladden my heart" I reiterated.
 
"Hmmmmm.....this one that you are falling in love so fast ehn, you don't really know me oh. I am very demanding"she responded.
 
At that point, the sensual side of me almost interfered with the conversation as I adjusted my sitting position. I almost leaped for joy thinking she was demanding on bed. That would have been an uphill task I wouldn't mind losing my life to. After all, one thing must kill a man. No Methuselah again o!
 
Obiagheli responded "Once we start dating ehn, you will assume maximum financial responsibilities. You will pay for the styling of my hair at the salon, fixing my nails and others. My body spray costs N12,000 and my Coconut oil for my body is just N5,000" 
 
At this point my phone almost dropped from my hand in deep consternation. I thought she was different. There was a wave of a fresh breeze penetrating my skin. The room which was initially hot became cold to me while the weather originally remained the same.
 
"I have a very expensive lifestyle but don't panic. Just work hard. Work hard and pray; all will be fine" she concluded.
 
At that point, the question I asked myself was how did we get here? As a real man I quickly saved my face with a diplomatic response.
 
"I will do anything for you so far you will end up marrying me" I coldly said.
An unsuspecting Obiagheli gave me that Okporoko market women kind of giggling in expression of satisfaction about my response. My slippery tongue became heavy and uttering another word was stressful as it was like my brain process slowed down.
 
"I want to get something to eat. I will get back to you later baby" I said as I ended the call.
 
As I got off phone, it was as it I fell off a motorcycle; I was deeply downhearted. My heart was filled with regrets. I kept wondering fortune-seeking, wealth-hunting and s*x-starved ladies kept patronizing me. I am not rich and I don't have a car, so why will she present me with such a bill without due consideration of my average societal status. 
 
I tried to do the mathematics and minor accounting to see if I could accommodate the demands of Obiagheli in my small salary especially during a period of scathing economic recession where the naira keeps going down like a dredging tool. After I made deductions of possible expenses from my monthly pay, there was nothing meaningful left for me for savings, tithes, general upkeep, feeding and bills. What a dilemma!
Deep inside of my heart, I wished Obiagheli was requesting for a bigger amount of money for business investment purposes. I believe in starving oneself and working conscientiously towards a bountiful harvest in the nearest future. I am pretty sure that would have been more interesting to the ears as a productive venture.
 
A friend of over 11 years had just gotten married in October, 2016 and another friend scheduled his wedding for the next month. We all attended Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. I can remember vividly when we used to go 'hunting' at night under the guise of reading; AUD 1 building under Amphi theatre was our favourite spot. After attending the wedding of one of them, my mindset was restructured. I was forced to stare at my face in the mirror to see how much I had changed over the years owing to age. Another look at the calendar confirmed I wasn't a boy anymore but a full-grown man that should be leading a family already.
 
I was swallowed up by my own deep thoughts and I wish I could call my friends to say the following month would be my wedding ceremony too. That moment, I realized peer pressure was real. I knew the few ladies around me were inconsiderable for marriage. They were simply First Class students of the 'Other Room'. Anybody who marries them would be left with just two simply options of either dying or being killed.
 
Well, prior to the first marriage ceremony I attended, I checked my 'Instachat' account (a social media platform adapted from Instagram) and realized a lady from Festac Town, Amuwo Odofin LGA, Lagos liked my profile. That was a rare occurrence on a social media application that was flooded by desperate and chronically horny men patronizing ladies like patients seeking medical assistance in hospitals. I checked up the profile to ascertain if she met my taste. Deep inside of me, I wasn't impressed with her looks but at times, physical appearance isn't everything. Everyone deserves a chance to express his/her inner values so I chatted her up. She was very friendly and responsive.
We later exchanged phone numbers and I called her encourage her interest. The Igbo accent was quite prevalent even though her Lagos exposure tried covering that up.
 
She was a wonderful person initially. For the first time in my life I ignored the visible attributes to focus on the merely perceived inner values. We kept exchanging calls and messages back and forth. In the marriage fever, I kept asking myself if she was the one but 'omo mehn I never jam oh!'
We fixed a meeting on a Saturday and I swiftly arrived at the address she gave to me as it was close to my place in Festac Town. As I waited, a mild drama ensued. She was a bit late in coming out of the Close. While I chilled out there with my eyes hovering around to see her first, another beautiful and slim lady was also waiting for her man appeared. Her eyes were all over me. I knew she wasn't Obiagheli but her focus on me was unsettling so I approached her in a sheer act of wild guess.
 
"Are you Obiagheli or from.....?" I asked as I gambled. In a terse response, she said no and a few seconds later, one successful-looking fresh young man arrived with this exotic Toyota Camry car and drove her away. I just smiled as the car zoomed off with the couple smiling brightly at each other.
Well, not too long my own queen came out of the Close. She was exactly what I saw online. Even though I was well-intentioned, my manly instincts pushed me to attempt a quick analysis of the 'natural endowments'. Obiagheli was sadly like me in stature. Her 'past and future' were found wanting.
 
She was short and dark in complexion but I promptly assured myself her heart will be golden. We got along fine instantly. She seemed excited to see me. We went to a bar when I was initially watching an Arsenal FC football match and we enjoyed it together amidst side-talks. I realized she was a National Diploma holder working with a clearing and forwarding company at Tin Can Island port, Apapa Lagos. She hailed from Enugu State. I really felt comfortable with her. 
 
To cut the long story short, she lured me to her house that same evening. We both headed to Raji Rasaki estate where she told me she was actually living with her cousin and not Festac Town. We entered the apartment around 8pm and the place was indeed beautiful and fully furnished. She was using an iPhone 6+ (64g memory). She later admitted it was her place and she was living alone.
 
As I settled, my journalistic instincts began to erupt. There was no empirical financial correlation between her properties and her occupation. I could barely afford those things as a Masters Degree holder. Well, maybe she was from an affluent background I concluded as we got engaged in a discussion during which we were open about our feelings towards each other.
 
"I can marry from any tribe as far he is the right person for me" she said as we gulped glasses of juice.
"That applies to me too" I replied and we both giggled amidst other discussions before I left the house around 10pm feeling fulfilled.
 
Obiagheli's demands gave me a vivid flashback of my two-time visit to her house. I suddenly began to fix the pieces of the puzzle. I recalled when she told me her ex was rich. It was totally paradoxical for Obiagheli to be living on her salary from a nameless company where she resumed irregularly sometimes. The funds could have been coming from where the 'tax-free industry' where other Lagos ladies surreptitiously generate uncanny revenue from.
 
I had begun to truly like Obiagheli before her obnoxious demands saga. I had been putting her picture up on my WhatsApp account not minding her shying away from reciprocating. My friends kept messaging me to inquire about her and I boldly told them she was close to what they thought about.
On one fateful evening, a friend in Abuja named Soji messaged me. 
 
"Your wedding is an event I have always looked forward to but now I may be entering late in the night to just congratulate you when it’s over'' he said. 
 
I responded by sending my usual 'lol' and I asked about what was wrong.
 
"You are asking me? Can't you see how ugly this girl is?" He asked. 
 
I was so infuriated but this is a friend I have known all my life right from when I was growing up at Jericho in Ibadan. I killed the chat for the sake of peace. 
But the drama seemed unending; I was stunned when my neighbour toed the line of Soji later in the week after seeing her pictures.
"You are handsome, she needs someone like you to complement her facial shortfall" he averred. 
 
I felt uneasy and at that point I knew I was blinded by love. I was determined to look pass the physical and find the hidden treasury in her. Obiagheli was indeed someone I could pour my heart to. She had good advices to soothe my heart. 
I was at the crossroads for days. I would weigh her good sides with her recent statement on several occasions at work. I would stare at my laptop for minutes while being lost in thoughts. 
 
I was beginning to see the real identity behind the mask. Maybe Obiagheli was good but it was glaring she wasn't good for me. It was a scenario of a good leg wearing the wrong shoe size. She would suit the style of the Festac big boys and men who go drive exotic cars aimlessly around town without any verifiable source of income. With those kinds of guys, she could have a shopping mall in her bedroom.
 
She isn't a bad person fairly but I am certainly the wrong one. Festac is dominated by people of the Igbo tribe who are mostly into private businesses.
The language of love here is spoken with the conk accent of money. The flashy cars did the magic; trips to eateries, shopping malls and beer parlours could make a lady's straight legs become miraculously bow at the speed of light.
 
Very often, you will see an extremely short, fat, pot-bellied old man who is romantically involved with a damsel. The man constantly murders English language but speaks Pidgin English fluently while the lady's act paints a picture of an overseas returnee. You will wonder what brought them together; my brother, money did. The hustle is real.
 
I once met one Blessing from the same tribe around my Close. We got talking and exchanged numbers. When I contacted her through Whatsapp, she told me she wanted to eat roasted fish immediately. I felt that was odd as she barely knew me but I wanted to be man enough.
There was this fish spot around a bar I had admired for almost a year when returning from work but never patronized. I rushed there to buy the fish to create a good impression. The price of the fish was quite exorbitant. It was more painful that I was purchasing it for a stranger and not myself. The scent of the fish was slaying and I was tempted to abort the delivery and devour the alluring aquatic animal. I finally called her that night and delivered it. She was stunned that I complied. She took it and disappeared. After a while, our gist went cold because she presumably didn't find me impressive. I kept wondering where things went wrong until one night when a dapper-looking young man parked his car under a mango tree outside her Close. I kept admiring the vehicle and picturing myself as the owner. It’s the kind of vehicle you will like to drive to the church to share an outstanding testimony about God's faithfulness. As I stood there in wild fantasy, I saw Blessing in a skimpy wear dashing into the car; it was going to be a glorious date.
 
Love is now like club football business. The lady is the footballer and the man is the club side while the proposal is the contract. Her beauty determines her worth. Once the proposal isn't big enough, she rejects until you present an improved offer.
In most cases, the club's source of income means nothing to the player even if its 'blood money'. The player may be aware but so far the player isn't involved and the money keeps springing, the romance waxes stronger. Most times, some of these ladies pray for the illegal money because the nature of the funds is corroborated by an indiscriminate spending culture which they find pleasurable.
 
Back to madam Obiagheli, she observed the seemingly desperate me had withdrawn from her. I kept using my work schedule as an excuse until one day when she pushed me to the wall with adequate grilling. Then I told her point blank I really liked her not just for the moment but on a futuristic note but she appeared too expensive for my slim bank account to afford.
We went over what she told me about her demands and she was enraged.
 
"You are just being controversial. Are you Donald Trump?"
 
"I thought we were just cracking jokes and I said those things to spice up the moment" she said.
 
"But come to think of it, are you looking for romance without finance?" 
 
"There is no romance without finance oh!" She ranted.
 
"See, I am a very expensive lady. Didn't you see my phone? I use an iPhone 6 with a 64gig memory. I am not cheap"
"I am just 26 and I have all these. How many 26-year olds live alone in such an apartment and own all I have?"She asked in an agitated mood.
 
As I gentleman, I took all the blames not because I was at fault but for future sake. The world is a small place and we always find a way of meeting again, so it’s unwise to make enemies cheaply.
 
Obiagheli's case isn't new in the financial hub of Nigeria called Lagos where everything has been commercialized. This is where some young ladies have made it to the zenith by simply opening their legs for the assumed ‘right people’ sharing the same age-group with their ancestors.
My friend who got married in October this year lamented about the productive time he wasted patronizing single Igbo ladies on the dating seasons organized by foremost Nigerian blogger, Stella Dimoko Korkus. He attributed their problems to what he called 'self-entitlement' issues. Relationships are now seen as job opportunities by some people from this ethnic group. I wouldn't want to subscribe to the fallacy of hasty generalization and unwarranted assumption that the South-easterners are materialistic. Women generally love financial comfort but some are worse than others.
 
In fairness, one can't blame these ladies. Some of them especially the well-educated ones are aware of the gargantuan dowries that await them in the village. An Igbo friend from Anambra once advised me against marrying any lady from Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State due to the herculean task of meeting their bride price demands. Since that name registered in my head I have done my personal research and other Igbos have confirmed the postulation/popular belief.
 
A female colleague of mine who had dreamt of her wedding and also planned it for a year went close to cancelling the arrangement with 24 hours to go after her kinsmen tabled fresh outrageous demands outside the list of items they demanded for the traditional wedding rite. It’s more appalling that this was a wedding between a couple of the same Igbo tribe.
 
I am not against the traditional marriage practices but I just feel some elders are sitting back at the rural areas reaping where they didn't sow through the concept of dowry payment which is a viable lacuna. I am of the strong opinion that it is brazen, unholy, ungodly and flagrantly corrupt for a civil servant suitor to be handed a dowry list of N500,000 to N2 million and above aside other marriage ceremony costs by his in-laws. Such family should as well buy the man a gun and direct him to a bank to rob as a way of expediting the process of fundraising.
 
These marriage practices weren't promulgated by God. They lack a well defined pattern and structure and are easily manipulated to suit selfish interests. They were instituted by man and civilization has pushed them to the background. The current economic recession in Nigeria has made them unrealistic as young men are being put under unnecessary pressure to meet unsophisticated demands. As the young men labour for money, the impatient ladies are seeking for the Mr. Right in the Church through a spiritual dimension as directed by pastors.
 
One day, we will wake up to the realization of the fact that the society made up by us has enslaved its people. Our prayer point will be that "God should save Nigeria from Nigerians".
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About Osayimwen Osahon George

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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