“God forbid. I can’t sell the material for N2,000. The least I will take is N4, 000. If you have sufficient money, I am all set to sell. But if you insist on paying N2, 000, you can go to Dugbe and buy from there.”
If you assume the above phrases came from a trader in fabric materials, you are completely mistaken. The material that is up for sale here is not the typical fabric made of cotton or wool. It is sex! The merchants are female students of a tertiary institution in Ibadan, Oyo State, who have included “runs” to their academics.
Inundated with reports of the escapades and prostitution of the female students in Ibadan, ionigeria reporter moved around some clubs and bars, disguising as a client in need of a sex merchant for the night –– to scrutinize the veracity or otherwise of the reports. His findings revealed that while most of the ‘runs’ girls in Ibadan are students of the University of Ibadan, the Oyo State government has for years been handicapped in containing indecency in the State.
His first point of call was Options bar, a cool spot positioned in the heart of Bodija. While some were already set and looking forward to land clients, others were seen changing the clothes they had worn from their hostels into skimpy attires or applying make-ups at the roadside.
Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah
While Oyo State is tagged as ‘The pacesetter State’, Africa’s largest city is not setting a good pace in areas of decency.
A tall, dark-skinned and pretty twenty-two-year-old lady –– whom I later new as Laura –– was keen to land a patron for the night, her eyes tossed vigilantly scanning the newcomers. When requested how much her business fetched every night, she was hesitant at first. “Why you dey ask? You wan do?” she threw back. It was important to encourage her to assume that I was a soon-to-be client, so discussions were opened with a bottle of wine which encouraged her to sit with me.
For short time, meaning a round of intercourse with her, she would accept as low as N1500. “But if you want to enjoy yourself well, well, touch br***t, smooch body, you go add N1000 to make am N2500.” We haggled and she reduced it to N2000. Spending a night with Laura will take nothing less than N4000. “That mean say, you go enjoy till daybreak”, she said patronizingly, blinking her romantic eyes.
It was Wednesday night, young ladies were seen in skimpy and provocative clothes smoking and drinking irresponsibly; some twisted their body to the music blasting from the big sound system mounted on a stage; while others were seen swinging their hips to entice customers.
Laura, who hails from Rivers State, is a 400-level Agricultural Science student at the University of Ibadan. According to her, she gets as much as N7,000 on a good night, while she goes home with a minimum N3,000 when market is bad, adding that she concluded to “do runs” because she needed money to complete her studies.
In spite of advices from religious bodies, parents and media on the risk of commercial sex working among the female gender, some are still obdurate. The rise and increase of brothels in Ibadan and its environs has been swift and distinct in the last few years. Dugbe Queens Cinema, Bodija and Oremeji Road are some of the worst affected areas.
GQ Lounge and 411night club are next to each other; they are sited just before Elewure bus stop along Bodija road. Innumerable ladies were seen standing both inside and out the clubs with their short stem skirt and bum short, soliciting men and money. A few were seen standing beside some cars waiting for the owner of the cars if they could carry them home for a night. There is also another club local at the T-junction along secretary road, Bodija. The activities of these commercial sex workers always cause hold up in that area as they stand on both sides of the roads touting men and money.
A further walk through the vicinity offers you more embarrassment. They hoot, call and even drag you: “Come now, na me call you first, you no know me again? Come, I go do you well, come and enjoy yourself.” If you are casually dressed, they call you student, otherwise, they call you oga or fine man.”
At D’Rovans Hotel, I had barely sat before a young lady, who simply gave her name as Lola, took her seat beside me and requested for a bottle of beer. I oblige and began conversing. As I was talking with the Lola, five plump and voluptuous ladies in tank tops and bum shorts swaggered their round waist past us. Findings revealed that the ladies were students the University of Ibadan.
Like the popular saying goes, time is money. Lola, a student of Ibadan Polytechnic, was clearly not ready for a chat as she wanted to get down to action at once. Her eyes darted around sizing up everything in trousers as she told me to come to her room and I obliged. According to Tolu, “N2500, and that is the final price for ‘short time’ but she is ready to collect N2000 if I am ready. I offer to pay her the full N2500 for a ten-minute talk as an alternative for sex. She agreed.
When asked why she is into such business, she said “I have no parents, and my uncle is not ready to assist me. I would have ventured into a small business but that will also require capital, which I don’t have. It is not that I enjoy sleeping around, but man must survive.” Advised to get a job and then further her education on a part-time basis, she said no. She, however, showed some penitence when I reeled out some of the dangers involved in the ‘runs’.
Findings revealed that sex workers are ready to accept between N1500 and N2500 for short time if you meet them in their rooms as they make more money when patrons come to their rooms rather than using a hotel room.
Under the pretense of patronage, I approach one more sex worker to discern more on how the sex workers are faring with such profession, Nabilah said: “Things are truly bad now. During Jonathan administration, we enjoyed a lot. But since Buhari came to power, everyone has been broke and patronage has dropped severely. My brother, my bill for ST is N2000 but how much you wan pay? Make we go talk for my room.”
Despite Laws, Prostitution Thrives In Nigeria
In Nigeria, the prostitution laws are vague. Sections 223, 224, and 225 of the Nigerian Criminal Code try to put pimps/madams, underage prostitution and the establishment of brothels in check. These laws mainly apply to Southern Nigeria which is regarded as the more liberal section of the country.
In the Northern part of the country, the firm grip of Sharia Law outlaws and forbids prostitution. In some Northern states like Kano prostitution still exists on shadowy, dark roads outside the state capital.
In 2011, the then Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu asked the Nigerian Senate to consider making prostitution legal. Nothing much came out of this.
Residents groan, tired of living with prostitutes
At Dugbe, Abiola Ogunbola condemned in totality the way of life of the girls, adding that their lifestyle would have grave implications on their children.
“I feel concerned about this runs girls all over the city, but I don’t have any solution to the problem because it is their life. I must say, the kind of life these girls live is an embarrassment to womanhood. They wear indecent clothes exposing their bodies to everyone in a display of what they represent.
“There is a need for government to tackle prostitution in the city; perhaps let them stop them from living with normal people, they should live in an isolated environment instead of living among responsible individuals for the safety of our children.”
Another resident at Iwo road, Bidemi Abimbola, gave reasons why a section of the place is called ‘Angle 90’ and her wish to leave the environment: “This place is known as ‘angle 90’ simply because of prostitutes who live here. I can tell say that the population of prostitutes here is higher than other individuals. To be frank with you, I am tired of the environment and will soon vacate this place.”
A resident at close to the popular D’rovans hotels expressed irritation on the rate of prostitution in the city. ” How do you explain a lady taking to prostitution as a means of livelihood?
“It is just too terrible and as well very sinful. To counsel them is not easy since they have become hard-edged. They didn’t just start the trade today. When you call them to advise them, they will abuse you and ask you if you will shoulder their responsibilities.”
A civil servant who pleaded anonymity stated that brothels within residential areas are an eyesore which should be eradicated. She said that the presence of brothels in residential and school areas is harmful to education and development.
Without a doubt, the Oyo State government needs to swing into action of tackling street prostitution in the state.