By Bunmi Sofola
ONE bitter pill we’ve all had to swallow is the fact that 419 operators are not only here to stay, their success within Nigeria and abroad has become a nightmare. A few months ago, Jade, a friend, called looking very sorry for herself. A fairly successful investor, she’s a celebrity of sort because of her long stint in the print and electronic media. Even after she retired from paid employment, she stays visible in the media. The problem with her is that she has a heart of gold and would help anyone in distress if she could, that is.
That recently got her into big trouble!
“I had this call out of the blues on my mobile phone,” she told me as soon as she settled down. The GSM menace again, I muttered to myself. She continued, “A fairly familiar voice said he called to congratulate me on my recent sketch appearance in a TV play.
He went on to tell me he was one of the cameramen that worked closely with me when I was working with a TV station. On and on he went about how proud he was of me and how I would forever be an inspiration to people like him. I felt lifted after the call. It was encouraging to know that there were people out there I could inspire.
“A few weeks later, this same guy called. He was still at Abuja, he said, and as luck would have it, he’d been able to pull this juicy contract to supply realms of paper to a particular ministry. He was short of cash, he said, and that was where I came in. It would be a full partnership venture and a third partner would be visiting me to intimate me of the contract and delivery dates.
He was also to take me to their office in the heart of Lagos where the items would be delivered when purchased. I was instantly on my guard. ‘Oh, auntie, you don’t trust me?,’ he moaned. ‘I don’t blame you with all these ‘Gba jue’ (419) people around. I don’t know how big your premises is – we could deliver the realms to your place from where the owners could come and take them as soon as they’ve paid the balance of the contract sum”.
That sounded reasonable to me and I agreed to chip in my N950,000 proportion of the contract cost. Early the following morning, there was another call from a total stranger claiming to be the third partner. He wanted to know when I would be free to be taken to their office. I was free and he said he would be with me in minutes. When I tried to tell him where I lived, he said he knew my place. He looked really businesslike when he called. He told me he’d been to a party in my house with a friend before.
As we drove to their office, he enlightened me on this contract they’d rail-roaded me into. The office was very posh and impressive and I heaved a sigh of relief. I told him I wouldn’t release my cheque until the realms were delivered to my house.
“The next day, a huge lorry laden with packed materials pulled up in front of the house with hefty men off-loading the realms. When they were done I handed over my cheque and the man told me what identification I should demand when the realms were to be collected by the contractors the next day.
“When nobody called the next day, or the day after, I called the Abuja chap but his phone was switched off. That was when the alarm bell started clanging in my head. I quickly asked my driver to take me to the office I was taken to only a few days ago, but the place was heavily padlocked. I asked one of the women doing petty trading around the place where the occupants of the office were and she shrugged. She told me the place was run by different shady characters and that it could take months for the place to be briefly reopened again.
“Thank goodness, the realms of paper were still in the house. I called a relative who dealt in such things and told him to flog the items so I could recoup some of my money. One by one, he opened the realms – they were off-cuts packed as the real thing. All worthless. I just begged him to take the stuff away and sell them to food vendors for peanuts … “
Don’t Let Bodily Problems Slow You Down!
We all get embarrassed by body issues and wish there were things we could do to either improve them or make them disappear entirely. So how have you coped with your embarrassing bodies? Here, a renowned dermatologist proffered solutions to some pressing problems:
Dandruff: Dandruff is the result of the scalp over-producing skin cells.
Short-term solutions: It is aggravated by stress and over-or- under-washing your hair. The problem can usually be fixed with a special shampoo. To make your own, add two crushed aspirin to your normal shampoo. The salicylic acid in aspirin is the same as the shop-bought shampoo.
Long Term Solution: Zinc aids oil production in your scalp, so eat fruits like nuts and beef. Dandruff can also be a sign of some food allergies so it’s best to see your doctor.
Sweating – The problem: Hyperhidrosis, or chronic sweating doesn’t usually pose a serious threat to your health. But it can be really embarrassing.
Short-term solution: Use a powerful antiperspirant, wear lose-fitting clothes and avoid spicy foods. You could also try Dandi Patch, which traps armpit sweat.
Long-Term Solution: Botox or iontophoresis – where the area is exposed to an electronical current – might help. In extreme cases, surgery may be suggested.
The Problem: Halitosis, or bad breath, affects one in four people.
Short term solution: Doctors will recommend pelvic- floor exercises, cutting down on caffein and alcohol, and losing weight. Don’t avoid drinking water -limiting fluid intake can make bladder weakness worse.
Long-Term Solution: If these don’t help, you may seek medication or surgery.
Hair Growth – The problem: Hirsutism, or excessive hair growth, occurs when a woman has high levels of hormones called androgens. It’s more common in women with polycystic ovary syndrome or who are post-menopausal.
Short-term solution: See your doctor to make sure there isn’t a serious underlying cause, If there isn’t, shaving, plucking and waxing are all options. Cutting out sugar and taking vitamin E supplements and medication can help, but will only reduce rather than stop growth.
Long-Term Solution: Laser hair removal and electrolysis – where the folicles are blasted with electricity – are both popular. But they are expensive and you’1l need a number of sessions.