I have observed over time that in Nigeria, we have a group of specially-coined informal expressions that are made up of double words. For instance, we hear words like jedi-jedi, jolly-jolly, chop-chop, talk-talk, lie-lie, thief-thief, copy-copy, follow-follow, play-play etc. You can add to the list if you prefer. I wonder if such expressions would lose their flavor if the first part is left plain without being repeated. For instance, why do I have to say, “Why you dey copy-copy?” when I could easily say, “Why you dey copy?” Well, that is what’s been handed down to us so who am I to try to change it now? After all, I no be changey-changey”. Lol. Meanwhile, what comes to your mind when you hear the expression ‘yahoo-yahoo’?
Sometime in 2002, Nigeria was listed as the second most corrupt country in the world and we remained in the top echelon of this list for the most part of that decade. Of course the indices used to determine this included the activities of the nation’s public sector and obviously the activities of its citizens too. As at December 2011 however, Transparency International ranked Nigeria somewhere between 40th and 45th on the list and today, Nigeria is said to be 130th on the list if the media reports are to be believed. Personally, I am rather surprised at this development because I strongly believe the corruption in our nation has gotten worse. Perhaps more nations have gotten more corrupt since then and surpassed even our record.
During the last five years of the last decade, the activities of some people came to national and international awareness. These people have over the years successfully ‘scammed’ millions of Nigerians and foreigners and milked them of lots of money, thereby causing them untold hardship – financial, mental and emotional. These people are known as the ‘Yahoo-Yahoo boys’. They still exist today although their activities have been toned down to a great extent due to the watchful eyes of the EFCC, Interpol and other agencies set up to checkmate their illegal activities.
By April 2007, I was practically going insane with thoughts of my impending status change. I often wondered how I was going to survive being a father if the pregnancy period alone had such an effect on me. BG and her family hardly helped matters with their incessant demands and due to the fact that I did not want any of my parents to be burdened with any financial obligations as far as BG’s pregnancy was concerned, I bore all the responsibilities. However, I soon realized the pressure would kill me soon.
One fateful Sunday afternoon, I received a call from my friend, Sam. For a moment, I was scared to answer the call. It wasn’t as though we never spoke anymore but at that moment, I had crazy thoughts running through my mind. Was Sam aware of the situation? Had someone by any chance briefed him that his former girlfriend who was now dating his friend had gotten pregnant? Was he going to laugh at me? Was he going to condemn me? My head was about to explode when I summoned up courage to receive the call.
“Hey Sam, what’s up?” I said into the receiver in the calmest voice I could muster. I listened carefully to figure out if his response had any suspicious undertone.
“Geebee! What’s happening? Where are you, dawg?” Sam said in a most cheerful voice.
I relaxed a little. He didn’t sound unusual. That was a good sign, I decided.
“At home,” I answered.
“Can you come over to my end? There are some things I’d like to discuss with you.”
My heartbeat accelerated. Oh shit! He wanted to discuss ‘some things’ with me. He knew! I began to wonder how on earth he could have gotten to know about BG’s condition. It was a well-guarded secret. Even my closest friends were unaware of the situation. The only people known to me that were informed about the situation were BG’s sisters – Cher and Mrs. Oki – and my mom. BG was far away in Mrs. Oki’s place. So who could have told Sam about it? I decided I would not subject myself to unnecessary ridicule. If my friend wanted to berate me, he’d better come do it on my own turf, I decided.
“Why don’t you come over to my end?” I suggested.
“I would have loved to come but there’s one ‘runs’ I just got introduced to and I think it would be great if you were in on it as well. There’s good money involved, bro! The place where it’s gonna happen is just around my place.”
Had I heard him right? Good money was involved! I was definitely interested if it was about money. I needed all the money I could get before BG and her family drove me nuts for good! I wondered for a second if Sam was simply tricking me into coming over. It hardly seemed the case. I shrugged and decided to find out for myself.
An hour later, Sam and I sat with another guy in an internet café.
“Geebee, this is Presido. Presido, meet Geebee, my brova from another mother.” Sam had said when he introduced us.
Presido briefed us the about money-making scheme. He informed that we were going to sign up on some online dating sites posing as females and try to lure white men to fall in love with us and before long; we would be making some cool cash. The plan sounded ridiculous. How was I to pose as a female? I wondered. Presido seemed to read my thoughts as he opened a website on the computer screen before us. There were a good number of photos of extremely beautiful girls. The girls were so hot that I could almost imagine being with anyone of them just for a night.
“This will be you.” Presido said, clicking on one of the photos. Another page opened and a profile of the model he had clicked on was displayed on the screen. We saw about fifty more photos of this model and each photo was equally breathtaking.
“You’ll have to register a new email address specifically for this purpose and register with a dating site and save all the photos of this model. Once you catch your man, he will ask you for pictures every now and then and you would keep sending him any of these ones.”
Presido went on to explain how the process works and by the time he was through, my mind was made up. I was down for this. He informed us however that we were going to give him 50% of each of the first three payments we got from our ‘magas’ (A prospective victim was called ‘maga’). At that time, I wondered if I was ever going to even get one ‘maga’. Sam renegotiated for 30% and Presido agreed eventually. All that mattered to me at that time was giving the idea a shot and hoping I would be lucky.
“So, what do you think?” Sam asked as Presido left.
“Mehn, this is risky, don’t you think?” I said.
Sam laughed. “Bro, life itself is a risk jor! We need to get rich or die trying like 50 Cent.”
We laughed briefly. “Hope you know EFCC has started raiding cafes and picking up people involved in this kind of stuff,” I warned.
“Bro, take a look around you. Everyone here is a ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ boy!”
For the first time, I looked around the café and noticed everyone busy on the computer systems. There were about thirty stations in the café and the people all seemed to be busy doing one thing or the other. I allowed my gaze wander from station to station and noticed people working with email extractor software, signing into modeling sites, dating sites and chatting on Yahoo messenger, Hotmail messenger and all other mediums. No one seemed to be doing anything legal. What in the world was I doing here? I wondered.
“The owner of this café himself is a top ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ boy”, Sam continued. “The man has made money like crazy and in fact he’s contesting in the forthcoming Local Government elections.”
“Really?” I asked, dumbfounded.
“Yes bro!” my friend stressed. “This café is covered. The man has ‘settled’ all the authorities that could ever give us trouble. Presido told me that.”
I sighed. I knew I was about going into something crazy but I was convinced at that moment that I didn’t have a choice. I also realized I could well be on my way to achieving the highest level of financial comfort I could ever dream of. I had noticed a good number of flashy cars parked outside the café. The cars obviously belonged to the café’s patrons and I could just imagine myself owning one of such in no time. Besides, Presido had assured Sam and I that what we were about to do was just a tip of the iceberg. I recalled his words:
“For now, you guys would be making like five hundred dollars or thereabout per deal but when you get into the real thing, you could be making as much as five to ten thousand dollars per deal or more depending on how smart you are.”
Those words kept repeating themselves in my head for a good while.
“So what do you say, bro?” Sam asked, interrupting my thoughts. “Are you in?”
“You bet!” I said, stretching out my hand. He shook it vigorously.
“That’s the spirit, bro! Let’s start right away.”
We went to work on different computer stations and that was how I began my journey into the ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ world. Every iota of skepticism I had about the idea was instantly banished when I made over three hundred dollars in my first week!
SEE YOU IN THE NEXT EPISODE OF THE GEEBEE CHRONICLES.