The noisome ambience reeked of marijuana and cigarettes as our correspondent walked down Ipodo Street on Tuesday evening.
Sitting on the outskirts of Allen, Ikeja, Lagos, the busy street is one of the few places with a semblance of bustling life characteristic of Nigeria’s economic capital since the state went into lockdown about three weeks ago.
Dotted with all kinds of small shops and few residential buildings, Ipodo Street is a melting pot for kerb-crawlers, miscreants and commercial sex workers once night falls.
As of 8pm that day, nothing significant has changed in the crowded hood despite appeals for social distancing to slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Hi, Hello,” three ladies walked up to our correspondent while sauntering around a storey building in the middle of the street.
“Let’s go to my room,” one of them in her early 20s, Blessing (not real name), muttered as she led our correspondent to a small, dingy room on the first floor of the brothel housing an expansive bar on the ground floor.
“I don’t lick am o,” she remarked leisurely while approaching the room.
“They say COVID-19 is everywhere but e no fit catch me by God’s grace,” she added dismissively, agreeing to treat our correspondent to a Mouth Gig when he insisted.
“COVID-19 never reach Nigeria,” Blessing declared as she asked our reporter to sit on her medium-sized bed littered with clothes. “How many people have you seen contracting it in Nigeria?” she queried when told the virus had infected hundreds of people and killed about a dozen in the country.
Blessing strongly believes coronavirus is a ruse and a conduit for diverting public funds. “I hear e don dey many states. Na lie. Na money dem (government) they pack. They go steal tire. They go chop the money forever.
“If coronavirus dey, we wey dey here, why we never contact am. The thing no dey anywhere for Nigeria,” she said.
“Do you want short time?’ she asked in obvious desperation to get down to business.
“It is N2,000,” she concluded without waiting for a response.
After haggling back and forth, she agreed rather reluctantly to collect N1,000 offered by our correspondent.
“Hey! Na because of this COVID-19 you com dey price am like this, abi?” the light-complexioned, short lady marvelled. “Ok, let’s do it quickly so I can go outside to look for another customer,” she added, handing a small bottle of sanitiser to our correspondent preparatory to the ‘action.’
“I only use the hand sanitiser for customers like you who believe there is coronavirus in Nigeria,” she noted, indifferently.
Our correspondent at this point backed out to the disappointment of Blessing who lamented she hadn’t got any customer all day.
“I wouldn’t have wasted my time talking to you if I knew you were not a good customer. My manager would think I had a customer already,” she thundered.