Thursday, May 3, 2012

EPISODE 51 – A NEW PARTNER-IN-CRIME


Every businessperson has a major motive for doing what they do and usually, it is to make profit. Generally, profit refers to the difference between the cost incurred and the revenue realized in a business venture. Back in University as a student of Economics, I learnt that at the initial stage of business, it tends to be difficult to make profit and as such, the aim of the businessperson would be to minimize cost. All costs incurred (financial, physical and mental) must be put into consideration to determine the profitability of a venture and from time to time, some unnecessary costs must be cut off if a business is to survive. I understand the cost of running the Nigerian economy – payment of the salaries of officers at the three tiers of government and all other parastatals – is put at about 70% of the budget. In my opinion, this is a most ridiculous situation. Why would you spend almost three-quarters of the business funds on administration? If the Nigerian economy was a business venture, it would definitely be bankrupt by now. ECO 101. Class dismissed!

In Episode 49, I mentioned that, at the brink of losing the money that I was yet to even touch, I resorted to bringing my friend, Nuel into the picture. Reason:
Source
Receiving money via Western Union required the receiver to have all or at least one of a national drivers’ license, an international passport or a national identity card. Nuel had the required form of identification and I had none. The bromance was cool while it lasted and he proved to be a good partner-in-crime. He received the payments on my behalf without any hassles and of course I had to ‘settle’ him for his services. It was the settlement issue that was responsible for the ECO 101 lesson earlier. At a point, the cost became unbearable. I was paying him well for his services and Nuel practically became my follow-buddy, going everywhere with me much to my chagrin.

I now had good money to spend so it was always a fun galore every night. My usual hangout was Liberia, a cool spot in my neighbourhood where everything fun you could imagine was abundant – from ear-splitting music to fish and meat peppersoup, barbecue, suya, beer, wines, local gins, marijuana and prostitutes; you name it and you would find it in Liberia. The place was called Liberia because it was a settlement of Liberian refugees and they had taken their future in their hands in the ways they knew how to. I would call a few friends to join me and we would blow some good money. Of course I always footed the bills. Nuel was always with me and on a good number of occasions whenever I decided to take a girl home to spend the night, Nuel would get one too and you could guess who paid the bills again. Before long, I was feeling like a maga and I decided to shop for a new accomplice so I could fire Nuel. There was no room for sentiments and I hid under the great Donald Trump’s philosophy: ‘It’s nothing personal. It’s just business’. Business was for profit and I couldn’t afford to keep Nuel in my payroll. Retaining his services had become too expensive for me.

Like a good businessman, I began to consider the qualities I would want in my new associate. There were a number of factors to consider. At that moment, I had three steady magas who were sure to continue paying for a while, probably until the scales fell off their eyes. There were prospective ones too. I was also bothered about the ‘face’ of my budding ‘business empire’. I knew it was only a matter of time before the face of the model would be discovered as a fraud and the pressures from Miles Peck to communicate with him on webcam was gradually becoming overbearing. He wished to see the beautiful AY he had fallen in love with and how was I to let him know there was no AY? Dean Flank had sent me his phone number and asked that I call him because he wanted to hear my voice. How was I to do that? With my sonorous masculine voice? Hell no! Luke Pine was due in Ghana for his medical conference in a few weeks and had promised to come see me in Lagos. He even promised to send me money to book a nice hotel for us to stay for three days. I had suggested Eko Hotel. Time and time again, I wished I was really the model in the picture. My bright future would have been settled for good! My options were indeed juicy and I could only imagine what it would feel like to be actually married to any of the trio – Miles Peck, an engineer, Dean Flank, a University professor or Luke Pine, a medical doctor. I wished the experience was indeed for real.

I realized however that my days were numbered with these men. I couldn’t possibly keep up with the lie for too long especially with the pressures of requesting to see my face or hear my voice. I began to focus on the future and decided to get a new face to work together with the model, acting as the voice and the webcam face if ever there was the need. BG would have been the most natural choice considering our relationship. However, her pregnancy made it impossible to get her involved. When I initially intimated her about my new line of business, she didn’t hide her fear one bit.
“What? Yahoo-Yahoo!” she echoed in shock. “What if you get caught?”
I had shrugged. “Well, you just pray I don’t. What else do you expect me to do with the pressures from you and your people?”
BG fell silent and I felt lighter pointing it out to her that I wasn’t doing this because I felt like doing it but because she had put me in that situation.
“Geebee, can’t you think of anything else to do meanwhile?”
“Of course I can and that’s what I’ve been doing so far? Whatever I make legitimately can barely cater for me; talk less of considering you and this pregnancy.”

She sighed in frustration and I couldn’t care less. In fact, I found it easy to hate her so much then. Why did she have to get pregnant and put me in such a situation? Her family’s reaction to the entire situation further enraged me, especially her eldest sister, Mrs. Oki’s constant naggings which were yet to cease. Eventually, I convinced her to agree with me in my new ‘business line’; not that she had a choice anyway. She wouldn’t have expected me to go and get money from trees to take care of her and her pregnancy!
When I broached the subject of my ‘face’ dilemma and the considerations, she was very cooperative.
“I can make and receive the calls so long as you brief me early enough on what you guys chat about,” she offered.
I agreed. We still had one more hurdle however. For future magas, I needed to cover the ‘webcam’ loophole.
“But you can’t possibly show your face on the webcam” I pointed out.
Indeed, she couldn’t. She couldn’t even dare venture out of her sister’s house. Her pregnancy was still a secret to most people and I preferred it remained that way.
“Cher can help.” BG said.

It was another ‘lightbulb-turned-on-in-my-head’ experience. Yeah right! Cher had proved herself in the past while we attempted the abortion and she had also helped us break the news to their eldest sister. She was smart and equally stunning. She could not hold a candle to my model but I would simply have to make do with her. Fortunately, Cher came in shortly after and when I threw the proposition to her, she was elated.
“Wow! Count me in. I love adventures like this,” she said excitedly. “I’m glad it’s not the case of another phantom pregnancy you guys need me for this time around.”
I sighed in relief and thought about Nuel who had just been officially replaced. I dismissed the sentiments immediately. The business had to move forward.

I briefed Cher about everything from start to finish. I told her I would get her a drivers’ license bearing the ‘cover name’ and she would be the one to receive any payments from the magas. By the time I stopped talking; Cher had a look on her face I had never seen before. She was staring at me like I was some enigma.
“You are one smart guy, Geebee. My sister is so lucky to have you and I envy her,” she said sweetly. She still had her gaze fixed on me.
I simply smiled and looked at BG. She was smiling too.
I realized Cher had a point there. Her sister still had me but as far as I was concerned, it was only for a while, at least until the baby was born. I was no fool and would never be tied down to any woman because of an unfortunate pregnancy. However, something about Cher’s words sounded a little beyond a mere compliment and no one else except me seemed to have noticed this. Perhaps it was just my stupid imaginations at work, I told myself. I sighed again. My ‘business empire’ was back on track.

SEE YOU IN THE NEXT EPISODE OF THE GEEBEE CHRONICLES

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