By Amaka Agwuegbo
When, two years ago Mr. Femi Joseph was relieved of his duties at Oando Oil and Gas without any severance benefits, his world came crashing as his dreams of giving his family the best of everything money could buy became a dream.
In desperate need of a new source of income ant at a loss on what to do to keep his family going, a friend suggested he considered becoming an agent for Premier Lotto Limited, popularly known as Baba Ijebu.
Today, Femi, now a sub-agent for Baba Ijebu, is happy that he didn’t discard his friend’s suggestion as he has been able to provide for his family from the commissions paid him from sales made.
“After I was sacked from Oando, it was quite difficult to provide for my family as I was sacked without severance benefits. I was introduced to this Baba Ijebu business by a friend and it has really changed my life as I can now play my role as the head of my family.
“From the sales of tickets I render daily to the head office, I get a 15 per cent commission. So if I sell N10,000 worth of tickets, I get N1,500 as commissions, and the commission is dependant on the volume of tickets sold.”
On the processes of becoming a sub-agent, Femi said that all anyone who wants to become an agent needs to do is contact a principal agent of Baba Ijebu to help get and register a terminal for the person to start selling tickets.
“If you want to do this business, all you need to do is have a principal agent that acts as a link between you and the head office. The principal agent goes to the head office to register the terminal that will be used in selling tickets with land or any valuable possession of the sub-agent. This serves as collateral in case of any unforetold circumstance.
“After the registration, the sub-agent will look for where to be operating from and you must reconcile your account with the head office daily, else, the terminal will be blocked and the agent will not be able to sell tickets till he settles with them. If you want to stop being an agent, just return the terminal to the head office.”
Though Femi agrees that being an agent is profitable despite the location, but he is advising present and prospective agents to resist the temptation of squandering their earnings on bettings.
“I have been doing this for the past 2 years and it is a profitable venture to engage in if you can manage it by not spending all your money on betting because it can be very tempting, especially when you hope to win big.”
He said the major challenges faced in the business are selling the tickets on credit and the reduction in their commissions.
“Most times when people hire the terminal to someone to operate, some of them sell the tickets on credit, which is not supposed to be as most of the people who played on credit refuse to pay when they lose. But we are tackling this issue by insisting that the hired operator comes with a guarantor that will stand for him, else the sub-agent ends up bearing all the risks associated with this.
“But of more importance is the issue of the reduction in the commission paid us. Initially, our commission used to be 25 per cent, but when the Lagos State government beamed its searchlight on the business and asked the owner to start paying tax, our commissions were reduced to 15 per cent.
“The owner should not use our commission to pay tax on his business because it is not our business and we are the ones suffering under the sun to sell tickets that puts money in his pockets.
“It will be good if he reverts to our former commission since we make all the money for him and apart from the terminals, we provide all we need to work with.”
The lotto game in Lagos and other South-Western states, popularly called Baba Ijebu, has, over the years, enjoyed an increasing popularity and has gathered a lot of addicts. Its agents are seen almost every where – at bus stops, under the bridges, motor parks, markets, road sides, and other locations that welcome a steady throng of people.
There are different games
such as Lucky, Bingo, International, Super Vag, Fair chance, Club master, Jackpot, Enugu, Tota, Peoples, Monday special, 06, Mark 2, Gold, Fortune, Diamond, Metro.
The international games are Midweek, National (belonging to the Ghanaian government), Bonanza, Fortune, and Lucky G.
Amount bet ranges from N5 to N500 and players are from all ages. N20 bet plays for 2 sure or betting for 2 correct numbers and the amount to be won is N4800. 3 direct is played with N500 and involves 3 numbers that you think will come out. The amount to be won is N1.2m.
Though Baba Ijebu lotto has earned itself the reputation of always paying winners once their tickets are confirmed to be genuine, an agent, Eze Paul, is still hoping and praying to be paid the collective money he and some betters won through his terminal.
According to Paul, “Close to N10m was won by some players and myself who played through my terminal but when I went to the head office to claim the money, I was told that I would not be paid because the terminal was from Ibadan, the card was not uploaded and the principal agent was owing them.
“The terminal was recalled and checked but the money was not paid. I was detained by the Police for two days. My saving grace is that the people who won were aware of the situation; else, I would have been lynched for defrauding them.
“I am still appealing to Baba Ijebu to please pay the winnings so that I can pay those that won and also organize my life.”