Last week was my passing out parade! From July last year till now, I have been serving my country through a scheme called NYSC.
Every Nigerian graduate is forced into a regimented camp for 3 weeks in different parts of the country and has to work most times without pay or with very little in the state deployed to, after camp for a year. NYSC involves Nigerian graduates below 30 years dedicating a year after graduation to serving the country.
My journey started when I got my call-up letter. I was at work on that sunny Friday afternoon, not bothered about checking the NYSC portal because I was so confident of getting Lagos. Since Lagos is home, I wasn’t ready to pack my bags and live in another part of the country, especially after this. When I did check, I was in shock. There was no way I would be posted to a part of the country where innocent people were being killed constantly. The state displayed was Benue. A state in the north-central region of the country where there were recurrent attacks of Fulani herdsmen on the natives (mostly farmers). What happened to the entire southern part of the country? In retrospect, I think the only thing that stopped me from bawling, was being at work. I accepted my fate, made last-minute preparations and by Monday I was en-route Benue. Like the perfect traveller: my phone was fully charged, I got new earphones, I had lots of snacks. I clearly had no plans to make friends. However, you know what they say about fate. In that cross country bus, I met really amazing people and we formed an incredible bond. In camp, while we broke into little factions of the main group and different platoons, we still made plans to go back to Lagos together, with our new
fan club friends.
Wannune camp was out to make me miserable, I had to throw away the first food I bought despite being hungry. As much as I hate food wastage, I just couldn’t. It wasn’t just bland but it felt like I was eating waste. It was raining while we were registering, my new friends and I were tired, dirty and hungry. Especially since we had a stopover at the Abuja bus park of cross country. By the way, Abuja is really beautiful. We survived the first day but I did as a girl boss😎. While my mates were chased out for evening drill on the first day, I hid with Damilare and Jubilee (from the cross country bus) because there was no way I was going to wear my clean white fowl attire on my tired body.
My girl boss/lazy trait also made me act and co-produce a SAED (skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development) drama while looking for ways to miss the parade. I was invited after an audition to join the Orientation Broadcasting Service but I was screened out for having written my name for so many activities (all to avoid parade🙈, which I still ended up doing😒).
I somehow ended up in the worst platoon but compensated myself by joining the medical team. I worked as a psychologist and had only one major case. This was until I met Habeeba and Uchenna, who made the times I was forced to be with my platoon bearable. I also met my course-mate in camp, can you imagine?! Anyway, that is where the excitement stops because he had plans😉 which didn’t involve “bonding with your former class rep”. I also met a schoolmate from my secondary school on the medical team. Camp turned out to be quite interesting, despite being harsh at first. And I had the coolest roommates. We literally threw a party for ourselves on our departure eve to eat and dance in honour of the awesome time we spent in our room. Never mind we were 18 ladies, 9 bunks and just 2 wardrobes. I was so glad to get back to Lagos, I resumed work and I met my former coursemate and friend, Nazom in the LGA I was posted to. Nazom got appointed as the vice president of her CDS (community development service) group while I was hiding that day.
Of course, the camp was more interesting than the actual service year. I would not compare man o war drills where we exercised and chanted songs to a rhythm, to being forced to have “meetings” and under the sun to electronically mark our attendance for the weekly CDS. One day my CDS group, went to sweep a market and we were given a bag of rice to share. Which was a bit hilarious because we were much then and the excos fought on how to share it. However, I still appreciate the market women for giving us.
Nigeria 2019 general elections happened during my service year. Corp members were mistreated after being asked to provide their services for the election. This event and the mistreatment of corp members need to be reported to the U.N, really. Towards the end, we got a new LGI who was overly strict and made me even more exhausted with the scheme. I am so glad I’m done. It was quite an experience. I also need to add that it is time this scheme is made optional or scrapped, so many lives and time wasted for it to continue as a compulsory scheme.
The pictures below are from my passing out parade. Isn’t God a good God? My condolences to those of you serving or waiting to serve. I hope you do well and don’t need my condolences at the end of the day.