‘Runs girls’ are everyday girls. They look normal and often act normal but they have expensive tastes and a penchant for men with serious money. We know these girls. We went to university with them. It was because of them men with expensive cars parked in front of Queens Hall and Queen Idia Hall at the University of Ibadan. They were girls who were part-time students and ‘runs girls’ full time. They were girls whose hair, makeup, clothes and shoes were more expensive than their lecturers’. We all know them; when they are not in university, they have travelled with someone who can pay sufficiently for their time. When they graduate from university, they become professional as they go for the ‘gold’ in men procurement.
‘Runs girls’ as a phenomenon have been around at least for decades; many understand them as mistresses and concubines. ‘Runs girls’ are common in expensive areas across nations, but there is no geographical limitation to their reach. Let’s face it, the girls who throng Abuja and Nigeria’s other major cities looking for men are simply ‘runs girls’. They are beautiful, sassy young women who don’t necessarily have a day job, but they have assets and things that take years to save and buy.
Gold diggers in Abuja today would typically have goods worth between N750,000 and N1 million in their handbags. Some of what they own may include an iPad (or android tablet), an iPhone (ideally a phone for each boyfriend), a nice well-furnished flat (in a posh area of town), Gucci (designer) accessories, Brazilian (Russia, Malaysian, Indonesian) hair, gold (16–50 carat) and so on.
The idea is not to suggest that gold digging is lucrative, the question is why do some girls find it attractive to be gold diggers? Can a girl survive without being a ‘runs girl’ in today’s Nigeria? Mollie Balogun’s larger-than-life creation on YouTube is Lolita – a gold digger auntie of sorts with tips and ideas as to how to spot a ‘faker and a maker’ and how to identify a ‘runs girl proper’. According to Lolita, all girls are potentially ‘runs girls’. Her rationale being that if you sleep with a man for pecuniary gain or advantage, you are a ‘runs girl’.
The problem with this generalisation is when you sleep with your boyfriend. Does that make you a ‘runs girl’ or when you sleep with a man old enough to be your father for money out of desperation? Your guess is as good as mine. Girls in relationships would ordinarily expect the things they get off their boyfriends as general incidents of the relationship. Lolita thinks differently. She thinks sleeping with a man for other reasons not connected to love is gold digging.
The bottom line is that gold diggers are typically attracted to men that have money. It does not matter that the men are old enough to be their fathers, have potbellies, or cannot speak proper English and have tribal marks. It is hard in England to find serious gold diggers, as rich men are not common, I think. This is not exactly true as most men are only willing to pay for guaranteed services. In Nigeria, on the other hand, there is a preponderance of easy money, hence the trade flourishes.
Girls become gold diggers for a variety of reasons. First, some ‘runs girls’ come from deprived homes where they need to hustle men with their bodies for money to pay for their rents, school fees, food, clothes and so on. Secondly, many are ‘runs girls’ because they are materialistic and they simply want to look the sophisticated part, so they gold-dig till they find the man/men to pay for their hairs, bags, nails and boob jobs. Most are ‘runs girls’ because of circumstances.
Titi had been looking for a job for a while, or years in fact. When she came close to finally getting one, she was so desperate that she decided she would do anything to get the job offer, and she did. Her life story of ‘sex for gain’ started then. We must not overlook the fact that Nigerian men are also not the most disciplined. Men with some power and cash often flaunt their wealth by actively chasing easy girls at parties, restaurants, clubs and so on. ‘Runs girls’ exist because for every one girl there are loads of men married and single who are dissatisfied with their sex lives and who would not mind the ‘services’ of these girls. It must also be said that the state of the Nigerian economy is such that vulnerable girls from poor homes are tempted to become ‘runs girls’.
Balogun’s Lolita satirically speaks to the ‘runs girl’ in every woman. Calling for transparency and honesty, Lolita encourages women not to settle for ‘fakers’ (men without money), but ‘makers’ (men with money). In an interview with Sahara TV, she admits she cannot advise girls to stop ‘running’ as she does not have a system to help or prevent them too, but that the government and society must do all they can to help every girl stand on her own two feet.
Whilst ‘runs girls’ are popular, not every woman is a ‘runs girl’. There are women out there who believe in themselves enough not to settle for the temporary allures in the business of gold digging. These women are hard working and are not deceived by the easy money for cheap sex either.
Although frustrations of unemployment and the poverty of a broken economy have forced women to discountenance their morals for the thrills of gold digging, not every woman believes so. The society should respond by creating opportunities for work. The tragedy of doing nothing means that we are condoning this menace that is destroying marriages and breaking homes. There is nothing attractive in being a professional gold digger. Nigerian girls must not feel pressured or forced into sex for advantage. The market/work place must be level enough for all to participate equally and fairly. For ‘runs girls’, a reminder that HIV is real should encourage them to stay clear of unprotected sex.