Baba Ijebu has taken our housewives! Premier lotto attracts as much women as men || We investigate

by Kolapo Olapoju

Between the irresistible allure of ‘Telemundo and addictive pull of ‘Baba Ijebu, several Nigerian housewives seem to have found the perfect blend of activities to make their days as eventful as ‘working wives’.

The lottery playing and betting businesses are making a serious comeback in Nigeria, and surprisingly, housewives make up the chunk of customers of the business.

In the past 5-years, sports betting companies like ‘Nairabet, 1960bet, 9japredict, etc, have come into the emerging ‘betting industry’, which was once dominated by ‘Premier lotto’, better known as Baba Ijebu.

According to a recent report by the News Agency of Nigeria, about 60 million Nigerians between 18 and 40 spend up to N1.8 billion on sports betting daily, which suggests an eventual dominance of the betting industry by ‘sports betting’ operators.

More betting and lottery platforms are springing up, almost on a daily basis, and there seems to be more than enough room for all of them, as the number of players keeps increasing as more platforms emerge. But while sports betting keeps rising, Premier lotto has been at the zenith of the Nigerian betting industry for decades, and it shows no sign of abating any time soon.

These days, based on the ever-increasing level of participation, research shows that on a residential street, there are chances of seeing more than two Baba Ijebu kiosks, while in major commercial areas, it is possible to see between 7-10 kiosks, swarmed with many eager-to-play customers.

These kiosk owners work on a contract basis for Baba Ijebu. Their revenue is largely dependent on how many customers come to play at their terminal and also, the total of their forecast numbers which turn out to be winning numbers.

The most prominent customers of these lottos are unemployed youths, unskilled people, and housewives.

Baba Ijebu and many other easy/fast-paying lotteries have to some, become, “a means out of poverty”, while to others, “a precarious addiction.”

Unbeknownst to many, the lotto is mostly played by married women, case in point, housewives, who hope to make extra income from their winnings.

These women happen to be the major players of Baba Ijebu. Some hide under the guise of sending their kids, neighbours, to play for them, while others embrace the “walk of shame” to the betting Kiosks to place their bets.

A motivating factor, which spurs some women to go and personally place the bets; is the hope of getting a winning number from other players or from the agent at the kiosk, while another, is to avoid the possible ‘bad luck’ attributed with sending someone else to place the bets for them.

Many women players rely on their dreams to get winning numbers, and individuals like mentally challenged persons, pastors, and Imams, are also relied on for magic-winning numbers.

Iya Ibeji, a 35-year-old mother of 3, who resides in Alapere, Ketu, says she has come to rely on the fortune daily lotto-playing brings her way. She stated that although, she doesn’t win everyday, her winnings outweigh her losses.

She said, “If Baba Ibeji gives me N1,500 for soup, I will take 500 out of it and use it to play lotto. Sometimes, i can win N5,000 and even up to N20,000 with N500, depending on how i play the games.”

“Some days, I don’t win at all, but i take it in good faith because I know I can always win the next day. There was one week that i didn’t win throughout, and when I finally won, I made N27, 800, after playing with N7,500 during the week.”

While Iya Ibeji might project a balanced and reasonable ‘Baba Ijebu’ player, the same cannot be said for many others who have fallen into the abyss of debt as a result of their incessant lotto playing.

Another housewife, Mrs Ajisafe of Banjo Street, Bariga, lamented the destruction the lottery has brought to many homes. She gave the as an example, the case of her friend whose husband sent her packing after discovering that she had used the children’s school fees to play lotto.

Ajisafe said, “This lotto thing can become very addictive and you may lose yourself in it. It has a spirit. A friend of mine got into a lot of debts after getting hooked to the game. This made her even play more, as she hoped that one winning price would be enough to clear her debts.”

“So, when her husband gave her N100,000 to pay the school fees of their children, she kept the money at home, and began to use it to play the lotto, but she had a run of bad luck, which saw her use the entire money to play, without winning any major amount. When the husband found out, he didn’t ask for any explanation, he simply sent her packing from their matrimonial home, after spending 6-years as husband and wife.

In a more bizarre case of lotto addiction, very recently, three children almost died from a fire outbreak in their home at Anambra state, after their mother locked them up in a four-storey building apartment and went to play a midday lottery.

Passers-by immediately rushed to the flat, forced open the door and rescued the three children from the raging inferno.

Upon return from her exploits, the hapless mum was at a loss for words.

Recently, in Shomolu, there was the story of a certain woman, Iya Ruka, a house wife, who sells bread in front of her compound, who started a support-group for other petty traders like herself, to make a weekly contribution in a joint-coffer, managed by Iya Ruka.

But then, as often as a fortnight, the women all gather together to quarrel over money and accuse her of using their contributions to play Baba Ijebu, in the hope of doubling of even tripling the money contributed by the women.

Basically, Iya Ruka, the fund manager had used their money to bet for bigger gains and after a loss, she’s undeterred, and keeps playing, with the hope of recovering the lost money, which inadvertently leads to an addiction.

It was discovered that 20 out of 100 Baba Ijebu players win in a single play, while the losers keep playing, with the believe that they might someday win.

For some people in this category, who go for as long as months without recording a win, it might require spiritual intervention to stop playing.

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