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Thursday, 16 June 2016

THE MERCENARY

The general perception of everyone who came across him was that Ediong was just too brilliant for his own good. A young man of average height with a tan complexion, Ediong held sway in Uniuyo campus as the undisputed king of exams mercenaries. His work description was to collect money and enter into exams halls/test venues to write exams and tests in difficult courses for his clients…a kind of impersonation arrangement. Ediong accepted payment in cash for his services if you are male and sometimes payment in kind if you are a beautiful female and didn’t have/want to pay cash.

His client base was wide. If Ediong wrote exams in a course for you, you were sure of nothing less than a B grade in the course. His tentacles spread everywhere; the dude was versatile in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, philosophy and even the arts subjects. All he needed to do was to study the handout or lecture notes for a maximum period of one hour thirty minutes and everything will be committed into his memory.

In the exams hall, he will answer all the questions in less than an hour and will submit the answer script with two hours to go. Some lecturers knew him and always tried to apprehend him but the cunning Ediong was always two steps ahead of them. Ediong was something of a genius, a guy with an exceptionally high IQ, a Nigerian Bill Gates…he seemed destined for great heights in life.

Ediong also extended his mercenary services to Waec exams. If Ediong wrote Waec for you, you expect nothing less than 6 Alphas and 3 Bs in your nine subjects. The Waec officials knew him and during Gce exams, they would comb all the centers in Uyo searching for him to apprehend him. But Ediong never got caught, how he did it, no one knew.

Ediong was a final year undergraduate in the University of Uyo. He had been in final year for as long as anyone could remember. It was very ironic that this brilliant chap was unable to graduate. There always seemed to be a problem, an obstacle here or there standing in his path; missing exams answer scripts, loss of school fees receipts, omission from the master list, loss of course forms etc. Most students said he was possessed, a man could not be so brilliant without some forces following him. Others said that family problems trailed him. His cousin Uko, whom he lived with for many years was often quoted as saying that he doesn’t know what is wrong with Ediong.

Ediong didn’t give a damn about anybody. He shunned societal conventions. He was often found wearing bathroom slippers to school and everywhere he went to.  He lived a carefree but dependent life. Despite all the money he made from his mercenary services and what he got from his middle class parents, Ediong was always dead broke.  He liked food a lot and made it a habit to visit his acquaintances and colleagues when they’re about preparing or after they’ve just finished preparing a meal.

Ediong often trekked for long distances to places where he was assured of getting free food. If Ediong visited you and sighted any sign of food preparation in your house, he will set up camp and won’t leave unless he eats the food. Even if you asked him to leave because you want to go out, he would choose to stay back in your house to wait for you to come back. So you had no option but to prepare the food for him to eat and leave you in peace.
Ediong was quiet and reserved but that didn’t stop him from sowing his wild oats. He had no problems chatting up girls. They threw themselves at him; there was something seductive about this weird Einstein fellow. He often ended up taking them to his cousin’s one bedroom apartment for rounds of steamy sex.

Ediong considered himself to be different from the rest of us. He often said that he would prefer being an American citizen, that his potentials can only be realized in the American society, not in the mediocre Nigerian society.

When I graduated and left the school, I lost contact with Ediong’s environment.

Last month, I met Ediong’s cousin at a wedding reception. We chatted and I asked him about his weirdo cousin.  Uko told me Ediong had dropped out of school and relocated to Lagos. The young man had gone into yahoo yahoo internet scam. He had posed as a young lady online and hooked up with a lonely 60-something years old American widower. They made plans including visa arrangements for ‘her’ to travel to the states to join the lover. The lover sent money to process the visa as requested by ‘her”.

On ‘her’ way to the bank to claim the sent dollars to process the green card, Ediong was arrested in the bank’s premises by undercover Efcc operatives.

The whole thing had been a sting operation by the Efcc. There was no American lover waiting for him in America.

Right now Ediong is cooling his heels in Ikoyi Prison and doesn’t know when he will get out. All the knowledge and brilliance seems to have gone to waste.

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