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TechECONOMY The ‘Spirits’ Have Come After You




Nigeria’s online classified ads market is huge, though statistics are hard to come- by on the financial value.

Perhaps, the key question is: will players ever grow to maturity?

Flashback to year 2015, visitors to TradeStable woke up one morning and were re-directed to OLX. In other words, Naspers acquired the platform. OLX entered the market in year 2012, showing some resilience and innovation. Fast forward to 2018, OLX has shut down the Nigerian office.

Same year, 1st of April, 2015 precisely Efritin launched operations in Nigeria with much buzz. Efritin’s entrance was to dominate the market ringing a topnotch safety for both buyers and sellers.

Then Efritin’s Marketing Manager, Uche Ajene, boasted of two unique selling propositions– Verification and Delivery Services:

“Each seller on our platform is verified during an in person meeting with one of our members. We meet them at a convenient location and validate their identity by checking their government issued ID. Until verification is complete, the seller will not be able to post their ads on the platform. Verification is one time only, so once a seller is verified, they will be able to post their ads on Efritin in the future.”

Efritin saw the heat on OLX over the case of a nanny employed by a Lagos family who disappeared with three children, 24 hours after she was employed, as a platform to curry public flavour.

This is how Punch Newspapers reported that the incident: “Orekoya family on Lawanson Road, Surulere, Lagos State employed the nanny on March 7. She disappeared with three children identified as Aderomola, (11 months), Adedamola (4 years) and Demola (6 years), a day after.

“The nanny, Mary Akinloye, a 23-year-old indigene of Ibadan, Oyo State, was said to have been contracted via OLX, an online sales portal”.

The mood in OLX office changed; they knew how a mention of brand name in that scandalous act would negatively impact the brand and so it did.

OLX had to innovate; they needed to fight back to clear the brand name from the mess; so they started advertising, engaged in chitchats with the media and other communities like the security agencies, and other relevant stakeholders.

Though OLX survived the period, but the scares were there. That’s why I fear for

Few days after OLX announced it was shutting down the Nigerian office, a case of dubious job offer via started circulating.

I intercepted one of such cases being shared massively on social media, especially WhatsApp groups. needs to be careful.

Part of the unconfirmed story reads:

“Greetings from Lagos. Pls help me share because I know most of your followers are here in Lagos. It’s God that saved me yesterday. I applied for a job via Jiji on Monday, on Wednesday I was called for interview in Maryland Lagos. I got to Maryland took a bike to the location for the interview. When I got to the lonely building in mende there in Maryland, Okada dropped me and left, no one to ask a question, I called the number that was attached to the message of interview to tell him I’m at the venue, he picked and said his men are downstairs, I looked around and saw two men, the looks on their faces was not funny.

“They asked me to open the message for them to see, I opened it, after Reading they said I belong to room one, that I should switch off my phone b4 climbing the stairs, I told them I’m not expecting any call, they said its compulsory.  

“I asked them how long the interview will last and they said 3 to 4hrs, I was tired. I told them to give me a minute let me inform my pple that I won’t be home early as I told them, l went towards the gate to call my sister, as I was answering the call two men came down making them four, they started shouting on me that I’m wasting their time that is like I’m not ready for the job.

“As this was happening a guy from no where came behind me all I heard was “my case is different “and I said so is mine”.

“He said he saw the Winners (living Faith Church) bangle I was wearing that I should meet him outside the gate. I followed him, he asked what brought me here, I told him I came for an interview, he said I should thank my God that I saw him if not it will be a different story by evening.

That I should leave the place immediately that the pple are using charms on pple. I thanked him and entered a bike that dropped one guy at the gate there and left. They called and called I no pick. This morning they sent a text that my interview has been rescheduled.

Let’s, be vigilant with online Jobs I have not been myself since yesterday.) In case u get a text message like this.

“You are SHORTLISTED for an assessment on THUR 27-04-17 by 10am at 1, Olabisi close, MENDE, Maryland (Lagos resident only) HR 080-****-****” (we purposely blocked the mobile phone number)

Why I am worried

As usual, the narration above ended with “Pls Beware of this Address. They are Kidnappers and ritualists. Kindly spread de news. We never know who we might save”. Definitely, this kind of message is not what should be facing now!

Obviously, dubious people are everywhere, but when it comes to online transactions, users, especially Nigerians become too sceptical about such platforms.

Notwithstanding that e-Commerce is relatively new here; trust remains a very big issue. Investigations show that trust issue forced African Internet Group to rebrand their startups after Jumia.  JumiaHouse- Lamudi(acquired); JumiaTravel- Jovago, JumiaFoods- HelloFoods, Jumiamarket Place- Kaymu, etc. So, the brands are surviving on ‘borrowed trust’ from Jumia.

Security awareness portends we should raise alarm when suspicious about some scrupulous elements, but the tone of messages as seen above, are slowly decimating the e-commerce space.

The ‘anonymous’ writer released the bombshell just few days after the Konga and OLX incidences. also reveals that all is not well with; unpaid salary arrears, market penetration glitches and other investment concerns faced by the brand.

What can do?

On this particular piece, the best ‘counter-campaign’ is to enhance your credibility level. Though an online business, but be more visible. ‘Seeing is believing’ for Nigerians.

That’s why Yudala will continue to thrive. They adopted Konga’s model online and Slot’s model offline. If you go to the site to price goods, you enter the offline store to make purchases.

This simply means that should endeavour to prove to buyers that activities on the site are secured. Show evidences that those who posted the supposed jobs are verified.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed!

Peter is the Editor, All Correspondence to: [email protected]