Dudu Dollars’ name was known from the tiny crescents of Ogbomosho to the big lanes of the Mega city in the early 2000s, he was one of the first poster boys for internet fraud in its heyday, the one popularly known as Yahoo yahoo. It was years before the Instagram stunts by the new fraud birds, the times were Yahoo boys stayed all night at Cyber cafes just to have good internet and alone time with their Magas or Mayes as their preys were described. Everyone knew the name Dudu Dollars but only few people could pick him out in a crowd, he was hailed in musical circles but rarely seen. Dudu was quite popular for his philanthropy, he was a Yahoo boy with a difference, he shared money to the needy from time to time through different channels he had built over the years. Dudu’s good works preceded him, he was like Robin Hood with a FUBU shirt on, he gave out money so much in the grassroots that he became the envy of politicians in Lagos.
There were rumours in the late 2000s that he was not into Yahoo anymore but now a full time money launderer for politicians, using different companies to clean up money for them, some people also said he was into drug peddling, moving heavy kilos from Lagos to Johannesburg and back, there were many legends to Dudu, rumours you might call it but even I had come to love the name Dudu Dollars for his philanthropy rather than care about his shady lifestyle.
I was in my teens when I first heard of his name, Dudu Dollars. Young boys my age in Ketu were learning the ropes of Yahoo at that point, having one mentor or two teaching them the profession, everyone wanted to be Dudu without the philanthropy. My friends saved up their lunch money to buy internet time at night to either learn from their mentors or talk to their Magas, I was always intrigued by their dedication to making millions at such young age, maybe I could have joined them then and I would be in another place today but I feared my uncle more than I loved money at that point so I stuck to reading my books while my peers were adventurous and making money for Sean Johns at the time, I remember one of my classmates rechristened himself “Lil K-Dollars” he had it written all over the front page of his exercise books, coining the name of the legend as his and referring to himself as a younger version, the name was the only thing he ever wrote on his notebooks.
It has been over ten years after secondary school, I had won a scholarship to study in England, bagged a masters degree and I was doing very well for myself as a journalist. I don’t like to blow my horns, but I was darn good at that job. I was sought after both in England and in Nigeria, I worked two full years as a Feature writer for The Evening Post in London before moving to Lagos to work for The New Accord doing the work I love. In a year of me being in Lagos, I had become popular with the masses, intrigued by my work on different topics especially my biggest work on the Yahoo Yahoo menace. I met my friend Kola, the one you will remember as Lil K-Dollars, he was now a pastor in a pentecostal church around Igbo Elerin when we met at one of our mates wedding in Mokola, Ibadan. He was a bit different from the last time I saw him, bald head, and a forlorn face, I could see life had taken it’s toll on him. I moved up to him and asked him about life after school, his family and then Yahoo yahoo, it was then I discovered he had spent four years in Kirikiri maximum prison, where he gave his life to Christ and was later ordained as a Pastor. He did Yahoo for a few years before he met an American Maga that was smarter than him, he was exposed and picked up by the Economic and financial crimes commission and sent to jail after he was found guilty of advanced fee fraud of $300k. Kola’s sad story got me curious about the Yahoo yahoo menace and I asked him a lot of questions and also about his idol back in the day, Dudu Dollars.
Hmmm, you know we don’t even know where that guy is? He went under the radar in 2009, we just stopped hearing anything about him or his philanthropy, the rumours are that he relocated fully to America and has a new life there
Kola’s voice didn’t have that ding of excitement anymore, it didn’t sound like when Lil K-Dollars was telling us about his idol back in the day.
I did more research and wrote a piece on Yahoo Yahoo, I titled it “Finding the Dollars” it was a double entendre on both the history of Yahoo yahoo, the lifestyle, motives and the big game players in each era and on another hand, the life of Dudu Dollars. Yahoo had transcended from just internet fraud to a mix of juju and fraud , even to full blown money rituals taken us back to the bane of the society of the late 80s & 90s but this time, the people covered it up all under the umbrella of Yahoo yahoo. I had a full expose on the legend of Dudu Dollars, talked about his Robin Hood style of the 2000s where he believed he was taking what was stolen from our fore fathers and doing the needful with the recoveries. I found some people in his old order who helped with information on his real name, whereabouts and his new life, I did put it all in my piece, this was the beginning of my doom.
“Hello, am I on to Abiodun Maja?”
“Yes” I replied, my eyes fixated on the road, both of my hands on the steering wheel
“This is Bosun Ajibode, the one you maligned in your article, I am currently at your residence and would like to talk.”
I was petrified! I had to park by the side of the road and take it all in. Dudu Dollars was in my house, waiting at my door, the only person I feared in the world was my uncle before his death, I could barely look him in his face, ever since his death, no man has gotten me filled with fear like the calm voice of Dudu had done over the phone.
“I will be with you in twenty minutes sir” I replied, I felt my throat dry up with each word.
The journey back to my apartment was a long one, a lot of questions ran through my mind, while I was having the thoughts of his likeliness to have a gun in hand waiting for me, the news of the impound of a container load of ammunition sipped through the car stereo, election season was approaching and this kind of news are some of the things that remind you of that, the news reminded me more of the danger waiting for me at home. I wanted to turn back severally, I had to park by the road side few streets away from the estate to give myself a talk, my voice was all shaky while I advised myself. I put a call through to some friends in the police force and informed them to be at alert incase anything happened .
I met Dudu and some men waiting just outside the gate, he was a wearing a blue babariga with a colorful woven cap, if someone had pointed him out to me as Dudu in the streets, I would have argued, he stood taller than even the boys that stood behind him and was not in any way dark skin like his name suggested, he was rather quite light skinned, like 6:30am in Lagos.
He reintroduced himself and shook my hands, I invited him inside hoping he will decline but he agreed and told his boys to wait outside, he acted with a lot of decorum, it was even more scary but I was at the point of no return.
“I know you are wondering how a light skinned person like me is called Dudu, well, in the 1990s I used to be one of the smartest street boys and it wasn’t common for light skinned boys to be that street smart, we were usually referred to as butty kids but not me, I was the ijogbon, I went where people feared, I was different and I was nicknamed Dudu by nature, when I started my hustle, I changed it to Dudu Dollars.”
He spoke quite slowly, it seemed like he wanted me to take in and understand every word he spoke, I had a different picture of him in my head, a dark skinned guy with a cigarette between his fingers and a bottle of alcohol in one hand, but he was the direct opposite of everything I had had in my head all these years, he looked like he had never held a cigarette once in his life.
He sat down and went straight to business
“Mr Abiodun, I read your article and I think you are a pretty good writer. “
I said thank you in the sorriest way ever
“I think you painted me in a very bad light and have dented my political ambitions, I’ve always wanted to be the senate president of this nation one day, I just took my first step in that direction by obtaining a party ticket to run for the senate, but you sir have dented my chances and I am here to ask whose payroll you are on? Who paid you to write the piece on me?” He was speaking while his eyes darted around the room, I think he was looking for family pictures but I had none.
“Well, sir, no one pays me to write except the place I work, I live on a salary” I replied with my shaky voice
“Don’t give me that bullshit” he snapped “everyone has a price in Nigeria and you my friend are no exception, so please tell me, who paid you and how much?”
I looked at the ground for a while searching for the right words to convince him that I wasn’t paid a bribe to do my job but the only words I could find were
“I wasn’t paid sir”
He stood up and walked towards the door, he stopped just in front of the door and turned back, looked like a Nollywood scene where he gets to pull out a gun and shoot me, he flashed a smile instead
“I believe you Abiodun, thanks for being truthful. I have another job for you that you cannot refuse, I want you to be my campaign manager effective from next week. Please quit your current employment and come work with me, you will be paid very well. I’ll send an employment letter to your office on Monday. Thanks for the hospitality “
He stepped out without me saying a word after all he said, he wanted me to clear the mess I wrote from inside his camp, I had underestimated the man that is Dudu Dollars.
I told my guys about it and they were all of the opinion that I decline the offer, they suggested other ways I could be of help to his course as he seemed like a changed man but by Monday when the letter came, it arrived with a side note that read;
The offer attached is non negotiable, we know you don’t have any family around as your uncle is dead but that means we can kill you without people crying over you.
My palms were sweaty all of a sudden, my eyes had their own heartbeats and my lips quivered endlessly. I took out a bottle of Cognac and gulped a glass, Dudu will most likely kill me if I don’t act fast.
I called my friends in London, discussed with them and told them I was moving back. I planned to get out of Lagos before the week ran out.
The elections are a couple of months away and political campaign is in full swing. Posters of Dudu Dollars all over Lagos, his name is on every lips in Lagos central senatorial district, news is that he is the Favoured candidate in the district now, everyone knows who the legend Dudu Dollars is now. As for me, people have long put me and my Yahoo yahoo article behind them, no one takes me serious in the journalism world anymore but at least I’m doing way better as a campaign manager, earning more and dining with the movers and shakers of the country. I actually outdid myself in the campaigns so far. I know you are surprised but I chose to stay alive and maybe fight another day, or maybe there is no point in even fighting at all.