The Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos is West Africa’s largest market place for information technology products and has found its way into the world’s technology map. People from different parts of the country and indeed different parts of West Africa do business there daily. According to experts, transactions there run into the neighbourhood of N1 Billion daily.
However, according to informed sources, there is also something else, secretly going on at Ikeja Computer Village. It is something which a lot of girls now call “runs” . The Ikeja Computer Village officially closes at 6 pm every day. The strict closing time was imposed by the authorities there after some armed robbery incidents several years ago. At around that closing time, if you happen to be around the place, your are sure to see girls of different colour ,sizes and shapes streaming out of the Village.
Naturally, a lot of girls are expected to be in the Village. After all, most of the dealers can only function with sales people and all over the world; girls are more inclined to be sales people especially for small business. However, things are more complicated than that. In the Computer Village, there are sales girls and there are sales girls but what a lot of them sell is more than meet the eyes.
For starters, what an average Computer Village sales girl earns is so negligible that it can barely be sustainable as a transport fare for 2 weeks. Yet, a lot of them do not even stay around Ikeja. They come from places as far as Ikorudu, Okota and Satellite Town. They are always punctual and work diligently for their bosses.
These girls keep body and soul together from the proceeds from the “runs” they do in the village. Most of them take the job with the understanding between them and their bosses that they are going to meet a lot of wealthy men who come to do business in the market and when they play their cards well, they make a lot of money. Hence, despite their meagre salaries, at the end of the month, the girls make a lot of money.
The modus of operandi is simple. Some shop owners have turned pimps for their sales girls and some girls have graduated to “toasting” the male customers themselves. At the end of a transaction, the girls call the buyer to find out if the phones are working fine. They do not do this with just any customer but a man they are interested in. Of course these calls lead from one thing to another. At the end of the day, they are dating the customer. Sources say some of these girls come to the market every day with the hope of meeting not just a new date but a very wealthy one.
These shop owners encourage this because; they utilize the services of some of these girls as sales persons, paying them next to nothing. Some of these owners also pass their sales girls around in the market and openly discuss it among themselves. The “runs” business by the girls is now an open secret in the village that people there look at phone shop sales girls in the Village with derision, despite the fact that it is not all sales girls in the village that are part of this “runs” racket.
Some small phone shop owners have graduated into full times pimps as they now pimp their sales girls around town, regardless of whether the clients are customers or not. They also get their cuts when such deals sail through.
However, a lot of sales girls in the Computer Village are not automatically into this “runs” business. It is more prevalent among the small phone shop owners. Even then, numerous phone show sellers are not part of the ring. Yet, they all know it exists in the Village and talk about it with scorn.
It is also pertinent to note that a handful of sales girls in the Village have found life partners while doing their work in the village.