Sunday 24 March 2024

Joke's On You (part 1)

Streak bounded on the stage with high energy, gingered by the screams from the tons of people in the audience beneath him. The sounds from the many mega speakers in the hall as they reverberated the tunes of his latest single gave him a high like none he had felt in a long time.

It was his first show, and he knew he was killing it. ‘Yes, this is it,’ he said to himself. ‘This is the life I deserve… the adulation and fame I deserve, and it can only grow stronger from here. I am going to be the next big thing in Naija and Africa; just wait, you all.’

He strutted some more, doing his signature dance, which his team and he hoped would be a viral TikTok sensation soon… then paused. He held his right hand high up in the air, End Sars fashion, and on, cue, all sounds halted. There was silence in the audience too, anticipation on their faces.

‘If you know you are beautiful and sexy, if you know you can dance, raise your hand up in the airrr,’ he called out in the silent hall. ‘If you know you are beautiful, sexy and can dance, raise your hand up inna the aiirrrr… I need a goddess up here with me.’

At once the place was rent with feminine shrieks and a wave of eager hands of different shades and sizes shimmered under the strobe light.

Streak pointed to a young lady in front who was waving her hand as if her life depended on it. ‘You. Lady in red and yellow, get your booty up here,’ he boomed.

The girl immediately rushed towards the stage and was helped up by one of the bouncers.

‘Are you sure you can dance?’ Streak asked her.

She started to talk, then stopped and made a sign that she needed a microphone. In seconds, a crew member clipped one on her, and she responded, ‘Actually I didn’t come here to dance; I have an announcement to make.’

‘What do you mean...?’ Streak began in annoyance.

But the girl quickly rushed in: ‘I am pregnant, I am pregnant for you Streak a.k.a Layo Ovia. I am pregnant with your child, and I want the whole world to know!’

There was instantaneously a stunned silence in the hall. It was the last thing anyone in there was expecting to hear.

‘Yes, I am pregnant,’ the girl prattled on, lifting her free-hanging top to show her stomach with its small baby bump. You had a one-night stand with me and dumped me, I have been trying to reach you everywhere, but it has been impossible, so I had to bring it here because I don’t want to die in silence. You cannot say you don’t remember me…’

The rest of her words were caught off as his bodyguard, who had been as shocked as everyone else for some minutes, swung into action and began to hustle her off the stage.

Streak appeared to also regain his senses. ‘It is a lie, guys,’ he assured the stunned audience. ‘She is lying… like, is this some kind of a joke? I don’t know her o.’

‘You know, you know me,’ the lady shrieked back, even as the guard was trying to edge her back towards the stage stairs without touching her. ‘Don’t touch me o, I am pregnant, don’t touch me,’ she screamed when he tried to grab the mike off her to silence any further words. He hurriedly stopped.

The audience were now shouting in support of the girl. Shouts of ‘leave her now’, ‘let her talk, ‘Streak collect your baby’ rent the air and a multitude of camera flashes twinkled, showing that a lot of people were recording the event.

‘This is a lie, guys. I can assure you of that. I don’t know this girl,’ Streak tried to defend himself.

‘I am not lying, remember when you came to perform at Unilag last Valentine, you…’

Her mike went dead at that point. The technical crew had shut it down. She was then very gently guided off the stage by a female crew member and the bodyguard.

‘Believe me guys, that is some kind of joke, all of that BS is not true,’ Streak assured the crowd again, but the widespread murmuring in the hall showed they were not buying it. But Streak’s music blasted back on at that moment and he resumed his performance with even more energy than before. The crowd immediately forgot the mild drama that had just taken place, at least for the time being.

It was soon time for a guest artiste to perform, and as Streak was ushered off stage to catch a breather, his manager approached him, beaming with smiles.

‘What’s up?’ Streak questioned him anxiously. ‘Did it work?’

‘Relax, Layo, always trust me… I told you it will work, and it is working. You are already trending, bro, you are blowing up everywhere like wildfire.’


Streak was pacing about his hotel room, situated in the same hotel his just concluded show was held, nervous and worried despite all the assurances he had been getting for the past 3 hours after his show ended. A small-statured guy with very light skin and a head full of dreadlocks, he was good-looking to behold.

He had his Iphone 15 mobile phone in one hand and his thumb kept flicking across the screen in record speed, one would never guess he was actually reading the content he was streaking through.

‘Guys, shey this sheee will not backfire like this? I am seeing a lot of bad messages… a lot! People are believing the girl and they are ripping me a new one all over the internet.’

He was addressing his manager, Sesan, and his two-man PR team (actually a man and lady), Ugee and Ese.

‘Layo, don’t worry about all of that,’ Ese responded while Sesan just smiled and shook his head. ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity, only great ones. Are you seeing your numbers? The streams, engagement, airplays and follows are all going off the chart… and it’s only been a few hours.’

Ugee corroborated her: ‘Relax man. We carefully thought this plan through, and it is working out even better than planned. We have also published a message on your story that debunks it strongly and promises to get the girl arrested. That signals very strongly your innocence. Now, it’s time to prepare for the next step.’

Almost as soon as Ugee finished speaking, there was a knock on the door.

Sesan went to get it, letting in a young man and girl in a red and yellow outfit, the girl that had made the pregnancy claim during Streak’s performance.

The man was known to everyone in the room – he was a member of Sesan’s team. The girl was his girlfriend and he the actual father of the unborn child she had claimed belonged to Streak.

Over the next hour, Streak watched his team carefully coach the girl on how to put together her apology video for posting before the end of the day. The content of the video would be her clearly stating how it was all a clout-chase on her part, that she had seized the situation to tell lies on Streak thinking it would make her popular. But now, seeing how Streak was taking legal steps against her, she no longer had the courage to go on with her scheme. In truth, she had never met Streak and someone else was responsible for her pregnancy.

‘Once you have done the video, send it to me for vetting before positing,’ Ese concluded.

‘What if people think she was coerced into making the apology? That she was threatened or paid off?’ Streak chipped in.

‘That is why Tobi here will also release his own video the following day. He will come out to claim the baby with his full chest and with evidence,’ Sesan reminded him. ‘Dude, we’ve got everything on lockdown.’

Streak found that reassuring. He let out a breath that took with it a lot of his pent-up anxiety, and smiling sheepishly, acknowledged his team, ‘Well done, guys. Na serious brainwork una dey do… oya now, let’s get the ball rolling.’


Streak’s new song boomed from his surround sound system, enveloping him and the two girls draped across the wide sofa next to him. The music was as heavy as the smokescreen that shrouded the blue-lit room, smoke from the shi-sha and Canadian weed party they were having.

But Streak’s real high came from within, an exhilaration from how things were going for him since the viral plan was initiated. He had remained top of every news and conversation on and offline since the incident, and while there was a significant amount of bad press with it, none was doing any harm to his stats; only wonders! On top of that, the biggest of the biggest media companies in the countries were asking him for interviews, one of which he had already granted. But the very best thing was that an international, well-renowned record label had reached out, signaling a strong interest to work with him.

‘This is it, now it is finally happening. This is my time to blow for real,’ he told himself. For so long he had been stuck in ‘upcoming artist’ mode, barely even worthy of being called a B-lister, but now here was finally his opportunity to break into the A-list!

‘Lay, your phone is ringing,’ the slurred voice of one of the girls brought Streak out of dreamland. His girlfriends were twins sisters, almost as identical as two mint 100 naira notes but for the fact that one was as light-skinned a the other as dark. They were both stunners, though.

She handed him the phone. It was Sesan calling.

‘Layo, there is a problem. Tobi and his girlfriend are not keeping to the plan. I need you to come to the office quickly. We are having a meeting with them right now.’

His drug-addled brain was finding it difficult to make sense of the words he had just heard, but Sesan had no luxury to let him process them at his own pace.

‘Listen to me Layo, we need you here quickly,’ he said impatiently and insistently.

‘Okay, okay.’

Despite his state, Streak got into his G-wagon and drove down to the said office. Good thing it was situated in the same estate as his, hence not too far.

He arrived there to find not just Sesan, Ugee and Ese waiting, but Tobi, his girlfriend and three other hefty, rough looking guys he did not recognize as well.

‘What is going on here?’ he asked, and added, waving at the three. ‘Who be these people?’

Sesan sprang to his feet, looking very agitated, ‘Tobi dey blackmail us ni o. He showed up here with these people today and demanded for money. He is saying if we do not, his girl and he would post no apologies videos. In fact, they are threatening to expose that it was all planned work.’

‘Money as how? Didn’t we already give you money when we signed you up for this plan, ehn? Tobi?’ Streak demanded. He made a move towards him aggressively and one of the three strangers edged him off with his bulky body. Streak was stunned.

‘You think say na shere shere? You think say I go come here like this without protection?’ laughed Tobi. ‘Which useless money you dey talk about sef, that chicken change you gave me na money? Ogbeni, is that what I want to use to feed my child when it’s born?’ Tobi returned. ‘Omo, you must drop 20milla or no show o.’

’20 million? You must be a joker!’

‘The joke’s on you bro. You are lying to the world and getting huge benefits off that, well I gats get my fair share. Pay up within 24hours or the world will here about all your lies. And I’ve got evidence.’

‘What bloody evidence?’

At that challenge, Tobi took out his phone and started playing a video, then waved it around so they could all see what was playing on it. It was a recording of their last meeting at Streak’s hotel room where Sesan, Ugee and Ese had instructed Tobi and his girlfriend on the contents of their apology video in details. Streak himself was also very present in many of the shots, acquiescing to all that was being said.

‘This guy, you mad gan sha! So you were stylishly recording us that day?’ Streak vocalized his shock and disgust at Tobi’s action.

The other man only laughed some more. ‘Why won’t I? You think I am dumb and will just let my girl and I be used like that for nothing? The joke’s on you bro! Like, I said you have 24hours to pay me my money or everything will be exposed.’

After long deliberations, Sesan and the marketing guys convinced Streak that the money just had to be paid.

‘We can’t afford to let that mofo ruin everything that is already working out so well, let’s just pay him off. You will make that money a hundred fold in a twinkle, trust me,’ Sesan said out of Tobi’s earshot.

The transfer was made right there and Tobi asked to delete the evidence.

Then Streak demanded, ‘Oya, show us the apology video and let her post it now.’

‘We’ve not done the videos yet; we will do them and send to you when we get back home.’

Sesan and Streak wanted to protest that, but the presence of Tobi’s goons deterred them. They let him and his girlfriend leave with their strange companions.

‘Omo,’ Streak clapped his hands together. ‘See Tobi, see small Tobi o. Sesan, this boy that I knew when you picked him up from the streets to help his life. It is the same Tobi that is blackmailing us like this? I don’t blame him sha, we should have never trusted and made him part of this plan.’

And so, they waited for feedback from Tobi and his girlfriend on the apology video. They waited and waited, hours rolled into hours. Sesan tried calling him severally to no avail. He had said the video would be done immediately they got home and they expected they would have gotten home for some hours now.

‘How long do they need to do a simple apology video?’ Streak cried out in frustration.

By the time it was midnight, they all had to disperse, with Sesan promising that he would continue to follow up with Tobi and ensure the video was posted.

But when they finally heard from Tobi the next day, it was shockingly with more demands.

‘I don change my mind. That 20milla too small. Before I give my girlfriend her share and also the three guys working with me, what is left,’ he announced in the voice message Sesan forwarded to Streak. ‘I want 100,000… dollars. Of course, you fit give me the equivalent in naira.’

Watch Out For Part 2

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