Category Archives: NYSC Journal

NYSC Journal: Listening To Corpers Was The Biggest Mistake of My Life

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.

 

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NYSC Journal Guest Entry: Falling Face First In Camp & Other Stories

Written by Damola Arogundade

I thought tension associated with checking your results after the semester was the worst, until it was the day to check for my NYSC posting. First thing I did that morning was to check twitter for any news concerning NYSC posting. There was nothing helpful there so I assumed the portal wasn’t opened and I went back to sleep.

I woke up 30 minutes later to tons of messages. Nobody seemed to have seen their posting letters. The page was taking forever to load, but the call-up letter finally came up and what I saw gave me instant headache; BORNO.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, how was it even possible??! Really hot tears started streaming down my cheeks and I became cold and hot at the same time, breathing even became difficult, I mean, how could they post me to Borno, who did I offend to deserve this.

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After my first round of weeping (there were many more rounds to come), I went to tell my parents what I had seen. My mum thought I was joking until I showed her, then she went blank for some seconds. When she finally regained her composure she said “shey you went to fill in borno because you think everything is a joke, now go and enjoy the joke.” OUCH!!!

Later that morning while I was making my hair, my dad called to ask me to send in my details as he was about to make flight arrangements. They were sending his daughter to Borno and he was already booking the flight. I was just amazed! DOUBLE OUCH!!!

Some of my friends and acquaintances managed to console me, telling me that it wouldn’t be that bad and I’d get redeployed so I shouldn’t be scared. While some other friends like Anne and Ijeoma told me out rightly not to go there at all. They later calmed down when we found out I was to camp in Bauchi.

Twitter has a way of making you laugh when you’re going through things like this. I opened it and started seeing all sorts. Some people got posted to places I didn’t know existed in Nigeria. As I was trying to console myself I couldn’t help but laugh at some things I saw. At least that made me forget my predicament for a while.  I later found out that 3 other course mates of mine including a close friend were also posted to Borno, at least that gave me some sort of relief knowing I wasn’t going to be there alone.

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Anyways, I would find out that there were no more seats on the flight to Jos (My camp was in Bauchi and there are no directs flights to Bauchi), so my flight got booked for the next day.

After Arik did what they know how to do best, I got to Jos later than I expected but still managed to get to Bauchi before night time. As I pulled my box into the compound that was to be my home for the next 3 weeks, my heart sank. Ironically the soldiers I met at the gate were so nice, they even welcomed me heartily.

I woke up around 4am the next morning to the voices of people trying to get ready for the day. Again, I thought it couldn’t get any worse until on my way to the bathroom, I fell face flat with a bucket of cold water. I gently wished for the ground to swallow me as the people around me pitifully said sorry oo. I walked back into the room, wet towel in hand and my friends  started asking what happened. I wept bitterly, all I wanted was to pack my things and go home. There was no way was I going to survive this hellhole for 3 weeks. After much consolation, I finally went to have my bath with hot water that turned cold before I was done bathing.

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I always knew I wasn’t physically strong, but parade ground showed the extent of my physical weakness. I didn’t last up to 40mins on the parade ground that Saturday afternoon before it seemed like my legs could no longer hold my body.  I love my country but there was no way I was going to put my health on the line for Nigeria so I looked for the nicest looking soldier and explained to him that I was going to faint soon if he didn’t let me go to mami to get water. I seemed to have convinced him pretty well because unlike other corpers I was allowed to leave the parade ground, and that marked the beginning of my endless excuses to miss parade.

NYSC Journal: My Camp Crush

I’m a very introverted person. I don’t have a lot of friends and I can find social interaction very exhausting. People think I’m a snub, a very serious person because it always looks like I’m contemplating the human existential dilemma when really I’m looking for my elusive future girlfriend.

In camp, people thought I was THE snub. My platoon members thought of nominating me for most quiet person in camp the only problem was there was no such award. I really wasn’t doing my girlfriend search any favors. If a girl walked up to talk to me, I’d go through the conversation with the minimum amount of words without sounding rude and the maximum smile, although it was noticeably fake.

One day, during one of the excruciatingly long and lawless lectures, my friends: Favour and Jonathan were dozing and Misan was outside doing Misan things, or random spurts of dance moves. I turned around and there was this girl looking at me. Our eyes met and I looked away then quickly locked eyes again.

She was staring at me stare at her stare at me. After a few seconds she averted her eyes. I smiled internally. About 10 minutes later, I looked back in her direction. She was talking to her friend. I thought she looked really pretty. I was still thinking, when she suddenly turned to me and we were back to staring at each other stare at each other.

The normal human thing to do would be to either wave or walk over to this girl and say something. But a lot of times UgoIsMuteAlot takes over from UgoTalksAlot. The lecture ends and everyone scatters. I have misplaced my newfound crush.

I finally see her the next day during lectures and we do the entire starting thing again. In my mind, I’m having an entire conversation with my crush, in real life, Favour has turned me into a human pillow and Jonathan is talking about Spotify.

After a few days of not seeing my crush, I finally see her with one buff guy. The guy has his arms over her shoulder and she’s leaning on his chest. WHAT A BETRAYED!

I hired Detective Misan to get me all the dirt on my crush and she came back with bad news. The guy was her camp boyfriend. It was a sad day for my human heart.

On bonfire night, Misan, Jonathan and I get seats and are talking when suddenly my crush comes and sits beside us with her camp bae. Misan and my crush know each other,they had a mutual friend who was also there. Since Misan was with Jonathan and I, it meant camp bae had to talk to me. Me I just beat him up and walk away with my crush. Or at least that’s how it happened in my mind. In real life I smiled nicely and joined what had now become a group conversation.

So there I sat for three or so hours, talking and listening to everyone including my crush…who by the way, was cuddling with her boyfriend…just beside me. WHAT A DEEP BETRAYED. My right heart was broken in three.

I just wonder what would have happened if I’d spoken to her sooner. I just went back to my bed and slept away my sorrows.

 

The feature image was culled from hayeschan.wordpress.com

NYSC JOURNAL: 6 Things To Know Before Camp

1. That plenty photocopy stuff people will tell you is rubbish. For registration you only need like two copies for each document because there are other documents they’ll give in camp. 

2. If you’re very security conscious and careful you can carry a lot of cash. There are usually people that can help you withdraw but they’ll take a fraction of it. 

3. The most expensive thing and the only expensive you should have is your phone. And make sure it’s in your waist bag which should be on you at all times. 

4.  Pack light. Don’t go with big boxes, the smaller the better. If you can’t carry it on your head comfortably, it’s too big. 

5. Make friends, find people going to your state. They will literally save your life. You can plan together and travel together. That’s what I did. 

6. Get Specific Information. Check the weather, the climate, know what to pack. Ask people that went there, ask for details. Ask instructions from officials directly. Make sure you ASK. 

NYSC Journal: Dropping Like Flies on Parade Ground

Today was “special”. It was the swearing in ceremony and we were going to wear our Khakis, hopefully our tailors had done good jobs. One of the Army sergeants would wake only the guys up by 3am. He’d sing with the funniest voice that was very annoying to hear at 3am. The song went like this

“OTONDO WAKE UP E EEH

OTONDO WAKE UP OOH AYA YA BY NUMBER

MAKE UNA GO BRUSH U OHH

MAKE UNA GO BRUSH U AYA YA BY NUMBER

OTONDO GO BATH E EEH

OTONDO GO BATH U AYA YA BY NUMBER”

 

The temperature in camp was something else. Early in the morning and from 7pm it got cold. But in the afternoon, it got hot, but not like Lagos sun where you sweat and melt. Under Kaduna sun you just stand and fry. Your skin will change complexion before your very eyes. I still have a tan to show for my personal deep fry. Favour got tanned worse. She’s really fair and for some reason ended up doing parade throughout camp. Needless to say her skin belonged to two different complexion classes.

By 11am under the hot Kaduna sun, we were standing waiting for a representative of the state governor  An hour passed before the man bothered to show up and a few protocols later he was giving his speech.

Suddenly, I saw some of the Red Cross officials running towards us. Someone had fainted but I couldn’t see much from where I was standing. It didn’t matter because soon the excitement was over.

10 minutes later the Red Cross officials were running again. This time I could see the person who fainted. They picked her up and took her away. Two fainting’s later and the government rep was still speaking. Four people had collapsed right in his front and he didn’t even skip a beat.

There were a group of corpers holding a flag right in front of him and suddenly one of them collapsed. The Red Cross guys came, took her away on a stretcher. Suddenly I saw a girl at the back of the line in that same group fall. There was no one behind her to soften her fall, this girl’s head was surely going to smack the floor when at the last possible second the guy besides her grabbed her hand and may have possibly saved her from a serious injury. It didn’t matter because the rep kept talking.

There were so many instances were people fainted on parade and they were always during afternoon parades when we were under the hot sun.

Towards the end of the camp, my friend Favour came close. She was part of the final guys doing parade for her platoon and it was during the parade competition. They were about to do the salute when according to one of her friends that saw her, Favour began to sort of oscillate back and forth. She was holding her cap up but she was clearly about to collapse. She would raise her hand up and it would shake back down all the while oscillating. Eventually some people noticed and whisked her away.

We laughed about it later because she said she could feel herself collapsing she was just really determined to finish that salute.

While Favour was battling her own collapsing body, elsewhere on the parade ground another lady started whispering to no one in particular. I was told she said “So na like this e dey happen” a few times before she crumpled on the floor.

We were fortunate that we didn’t have any serious health issues in Kaduna campand to be honest the soldiers didn’t really push us hard but I still think parades under sun or under rain for that matter shouldn’t be allowed to continue. The military can do it at their own time and to their own people but when you have a bunch of unfit 20 somethings, 30 somethings and even 40 somethings, its a risk with no reward.

In the mean time, on the parade ground the commander yelled

“LEFT WHEEL!”

 

NYSC Journal: Registration, Queues & Dozing Without Nodding

When I stepped into Kaduna camp and walked past the sarcastic smiles of the military men, the first things I noticed were sand and dust. They were everywhere. I had worn black shoes with white soles and by the time I made it to my hostel to drop my mattress and box it was already brown.

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My friend Jonathan and I got a bunk by the window. We would later realize the mistake we made because temperatures got really low at night. But in the meantime we headed back out with our documents to start registration. And the wahala began.

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The Box I took To Camp

We joined a very long queue that curved around trees which even made it look shorter than it was. The line led into a hall and they allowed people in sometimes 5 at a time sometimes 12. We joined the line around 9am and it was 3pm before we entered the hall. I  stood on that queue for 6 hours in tight shoes. I  thought Jonathan would break in two because he’s very tall and skinny, no meat on his bones to give him any form of comfort.

We got into the hall excited to sit down but we couldn’t forget that we hadn’t even started registration. Misan and Favour were on a different queue for girls had gotten into the hall hours before us but they only got to the front of the queue within the hall minutes after we entered.

We would get some photocopies signed an hour later and by 4:30pm we were on another queue. Misan and Favour would come and tell us they were calling it quits. They said they would try tomorrow and instead of us to follow them we formed bahdguys. We were on that queue for additional 2 hours before the entire queue descended into chaos. Jonathan and I left there by 9pm Thursday night after going nowhere.

On Friday after waking up by 3am we were back on the queue grind by 7am after parade. Friday was worse because it was more chaotic and the line was going absolutely nowhere. I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, Favour was sick and by the end of the day Misan would land in the med bay.We left the registration hall by 10pm that night. Did we accomplish anything on Friday? Absolutely nothing! 48 hours and I hadn’t eaten. I didn’t even feel hungry.

It was also on Friday Misan, Jonathan and I got a glimpse at one of Favour’s amazing talents. Favour can sleep in any position without nodding. I mean she’d just keep her head and no matter the position or how long she dozed the head would never move. She would benefit so many undisturbed dozes in camp with that thing. For some reason we could never learn it, especially Misan who was almost running mad because of her high levels of energy and not enough sleep. She says it’s boring teachers plus 4 years of practice that perfected the art of the nod-less sleep

By Saturday, most people had been registered so it wasn’t as crazy. We eventually finished it despite the fact Jonathan had now replaced Misan and Favour on the sick bed. But some of us didn’t get NYSC kits because they had finished and had to wait for resupplies from Abuja.

By Sunday we got our white on white and khakis and all our excuses for escaping parade went out the window.

Everyone had fallen sick except me and I was feeling pretty healthy. Till cold, catarrh, cough, sore throat and cough would slap me at the same time. But that’s another story. In the mean time the Soldiers were yelling

“BY THE LEFT…QUICK MARCH!!”

 

NYSC Journal: Getting To Camp

I was awake at 5am that Monday morning. I grabbed my phone and headed straight to twitter. I checked for tweets relating to NYSC and I saw a few people already lamenting about where they were posted to.

I headed over to the portal to check mine and I couldn’t get in. By 7am, I asked my friend Damola to check mine. Damola was already doing laps around the 6 stages of grief. They posted her to Borno and her Dad was already booking her flight. Damola sent me a screenshot and it changed my life. They’d posted me to Kaduna. I joined Damola on her next lap round the grief track.

I didnt have long to cry, I was supposed to be in Kaduna camp that Thursday and I started making logistical arrangements. I think they deliberately give you a short space of time between getting posted and resuming at camp to make your life hell.

I hooked up with a number of people posted to Kaduna but Misan, Jonathan and Favour would literally become family in the process.

By Monday night we had booked Arik on hold. It was a terrible mistake because by the time we wanted to pay on Tuesday morning, Arik told us they only kept the flights on hold for two hours and we started running around because they were sold out. Like who keeps booked tickets on hold for two hours!

I called their customer care they sent me to Sheraton, I got there and I was told they no longer had an office there. I ran to the airport and met a queue that would become the first in a long line of NYSC queues.

Eventually we managed to still get Arik but after the complimentary two hours delay they flew us to Jos first. Don’t ask. To be honest, I was happy they delayed the flights, I wasn’t eager to get to camp.

By Wednesday night we were in Kaduna, with small boxes filled of whites shirts and shorts, documents and cash. Favour had a toothache from the devil and a free headache from NYSC. Misan was worried that after making the official cross to team light skin she was about to get a literal burning.

We spent the night in a cheap but very nice hotel and early Thursday morning we were on our way to camp. Everyone had packed light except Favour and we heard gist that we were going to carry our boxes on our heads. She wasn’t finding it funny. I just kept making more useless jokes, it was either that or crying in Chinese.

Suddenly we were at camp, Military men fully kitted, fully armed, Police , NSCDC all waiting for us at the gate smiling and shouting at the same time. I didn’t carry my box on my head, I did drop my dignity at the gate, one of the wisest things I did. We got into the gate from there it was all…

…”ATTENTION BY NUMBER!”…