You know that experiment where you tell someone sitting at the beginning of a column of chairs something and ask them to pass it on till it gets to the last person? Usually by the time it gets to the last person it’s totally different, it happened in camp at least twice a day. In fact, it started before camp and by a week into it, I was convinced that otondos where some of the most stupid people God put on earth.
I think my NYSC experience would have been 50% less stressful if I didn’t listen to what other corpers said. It’s not like I went round asking for advice or trying to find answers to questions that were bugging me but a lot of information passed around camp was either done with a bugle, word of mouth, or a poor public address system that meant you had ask someone else.
My first experience with this was when I was making inquires about the documents I would need in camp. People told me I needed 10 copies per document, some said 15 copies. Eventually I ended up looking like a teacher that was coming to share exam questions to a hundred students. I still have that file in my house and it’s only missing five copies. To think I held that bulky file for three during registration.
The worst was when I redeployed and had to go to the secretariat to register my behind. There were dozens of corpers at the gate trying to make photocopies when I got there. Let me just add that the photocopy war in NYSC is real. I asked what was going on and I was told I needed to photocopy a form 5 times and fill all. I’d have asked why but seeing as the only reason I was asking a corper in the first place was because an official had instructed me to ask a corper, I didn’t have much of choice. At least 30 corpers, stood behind a red barricade and held out forms. There were two girls who collected and returned the forms in batches, running the few meters between the barricade and the wooden kiosks that housed the two photocopiers. Everyone wanted to be in the next batch so there was a lot of pushing and shoving, never mind this was going on under the very hot Lagos sun while wearing khakis and caps.
I was just about to join the queue after suffering in the free form hustle of the red barricade when someone told me that I had to take passports in my NYSC vest and attach to the forms. Despite having like 35 passports in my wallet, I spent another two hours trying to get new passport photos because, mine were in plain clothes.
I would then rejoin the queue and spend another two hours on a line that never moved. When I eventually made it to the very crowded front of the line, the official only asked for one form with one passport photograph. I was still trying to pull out a form when my eyes caught other peoples forms. Imagine my surprise, when I discovered that ANY TYPE OF PASSPORT would have been fine.
I thought of finding the person who told me to make five copies and take new passports was too tired to be angry, the money I’ve spent so far on photocopying alleged NYSC documents is at least one months allowee.