”Get down on your knees”, the man and his employee were ordered, “abeg sir just have mercy” the boss pleaded, I said get down on your knees, the thug thundered.
It was a beautiful morning, the laborers were at work in the construction site, one of them called TJ was approached by a well-dressed sturdy dark-complexioned man in his late thirties or early forties. “Good morning” the man said ,
“Good morning “ TJ replied,
“Are u the boss here?” asked the man
“No” replied TJ, “why do you want to see the boss?” he asked
“I am a site engineer and am here to ask if you guys will be interested in buying some bags of cement at a lesser price, am short of money and I need to pay my workers .“ the engineer said in an unhappy tone.
“I will have to call my oga be that o”, TJ said telling himself this is too good to be real
“Hello Oga , there is this man here ………….” TJ ranted on, “the man said he will sell at the rate of ₦1250 and he has 40 bags to sell, ok Sir, I will let him know, bye-bye”.
In an excited voice “my oga say make u bring am “TJ told the Engineer. Who wouldn’t be happy when a bag of cement cost ₦1500 and this man here is offering to sell for themat the rate of ₦1250 per bag, that’s like winning a jackpot.
As spectators in a stadium, sitting in my mama’s shop which is beside the construction site, my mum and I looked on, the words running through my mind was that Yoruba adage which says “eni to n wa ifa lo n rofo” meaning “whoever is looking for freebies will often end up with loses”
Vrooooooommmmm!, looking up I saw a battered looking car with the driver wearing the uniform of mechanics in my area, I thought these people are here again always test running their customers vehicle and disturbing the peace of the community. The car parked in front of my mum’s shop, and I looked up to see the supposed Engineer in the passenger’s seat, then I noticed the boot was overloaded with bags of cement.
The bags were offloaded and there goes the Engineer with the car for a second batch of cement. After dropping the second batch, the Engineer stayed behind ordering the driver and the two offloaders to go and bring the remaining cement. Now that the cement is here, TJ believed the man is real, the cement is real, it’s a real world, and he paid ₦50,000 cash to the man.
Vrooooooooooom! I heard again as the driver struggled to park the car, bringing the third and the last batch of cement, when the last bag was offloaded , one of the offloaders came to TJ and asked “where is our money”. I have paid your oga, you will have to collect offloading money from him” TJ answered looking around for the Engineer thinking he was being asked for the offloading money, ” he was here just now, where did he disappeared to?”
“I am my own oga, you will have to pay me for the bags of cement” the offloader claimed.
Now with a voice full of anger “I have paid your oga”, TJ insisted;
“That man is not my oga, he came to my shop and told me he wants to supply cement to his customer, he didn’t pay me a dime, he said I should collect the money from you guys” offloader said
The reality dawning onTJ, with a shaky voicehe asked “where is the man now ?”.
Picking his cell phone, the offloader made some calls and less than five minute, in a small car they arrived with axes, knives e.t.c. “where is the man?” the one which seems like the leader out of these thugs asked, by this time , TJ’s boss was available for questioning.r
Tj and his boss were on their knees pleading for their lives,” is this the way you swindle people and make a living out of it” thug asked
“Tell us what to do and we will complied” TJ’s boss implored.
“You will have to pay the full amount of the bags of cement at the real price which is ₦1,550” the thug said after giving warning to onlookers and passers-by not to contribute.
“Ok sir, I don’thave money in the bank, I will have to borrow, if you can take me there in your car, I will pay you, no amount is greater than our lives”, TJ’s boss said dejectedly.
They collected the money never to see them again in our area, a lesson well learnt by TJ, his boss and the likes of him.
What we heard later was that, the so called Engineer, the driver, the shop owner and the thugs were working together, to swindle anyone who will fall their victim, and I asked myself, do these people have families at home?, do they have wives?, do they have children they cater for?, do they leave home every morning claiming they are going to work? What sort of work do they tell their loved ones they do? These and so many other questions runs through my mind whenever I think about the incident.