I was in the sitting that afternoon when I got a call from a friend telling me the NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) posting was out. For my foreign readers, NYSC is a voluntary compulsory one year service every Nigerian graduate either trained at home or abroad must render to the country before officially joining the labour market. I wasn’t in much of a hurry to check because I believed that the contact I used in influencing the posting was rock solid and that my checking would only be a formality. So, you can imagine my disappointment when I saw Kaduna instead of Lagos. I actually logged out and re-logged in just to be sure I saw correctly.
My disappointment was short lived as uncontrollable laughter bubbled to the surface and I quickly ran to our other sitting room to tell my siblings that posting was out. Their response was, “shei na Lagos.” I said, “for where?, na Kaduna o.” They were like, “we know it’s Lagos, Zuchie, u too dey joke.” So I showed them the computer screen so they could see the same thing I saw, they too started laughing and made jokes like “seems the North is in our DNA,” seeing as my mum served in Plateau, my dad Kaduna, my sister and brother were posted to Zamfara and Niger respectively.
I relaxed after I heard Kaduna wasn’t such a bad place and that they tend to treat medical personnel well. My major concern after that became the fact that I was going to be far away from my loved ones, but I rationalized that one can always work around that, after all, skype dey (Lol).
Before going to camp, I had a lot of misgivings about the NYSC scheme or rather, the 3 weeks orientation in camp.
I couldn’t fathom the reason someone would want to take a group of adults put them in a confined space and regiment their lives, if I had my way, we would go straight to our places of primary assignment and forego the camping. I felt the scheme had outlived its purpose of furthering unity amongst Nigerians because now, the disunity even amongst folks of the same ethnic descent is quite palpable.
I had no idea what facility to expect, would the restrooms be clean enough, do I have to bathe outside, how far do I need to go to fetch water, would I have run ins with the soldiers and how would it be living with about a hundred other girls in one hall for 3 weeks! Despite all these thoughts, I was determined to have a good time.
The first thing that put my mind at rest was we weren’t made to carry our boxes on our heads on arrival, then I saw that the facilities were actually very OK and that the management had made provision for water to be delivered at intervals throughout the day, but the aspect of camping I won’t miss is the living with that many girls. Put 2 girls in a room, and they will joust mentally, put 3 and the situation might still be salvaged but when you put 100 girls in a room, it’s an all out war.
With all that being said, I had fun in camp. I enjoyed the morning drills, the funny songs, the social nights even though some were really boring, the Miss. NYSC, Mr. Macho, Miss. Ugly, Miss. Bold and Beautiful, Miss. Ebony, Camp Idol, cooking competitions and of course the carnival.
I particularly tried not to miss the early morning addresses of the state coordinator filled with well timed humour to accommodate the short attention span of this generation. I won’t forget the morning he said, “if you spend all your money in maami, you are a wasteful sinner,” a category I belonged to squarely and with no apologies. As far as I was concerned, without the maami market, there is no orientation camp.
I don’t think this piece would be complete if I don’t mention Kurege and his beagle. That man displayed a passion second to none when blowing his beagle that I suspect the only time he was truly happy was when his tune “Na you come Kaduna, why you no go Zamfara” woke us from our short but deep slumber or when it chased us to the parade ground or the hall for some boring lectures. On a serious note though, why must those lectures be that long, can’t it be split into 2 hours each with an hour break in between, that way what is being said is not lost on more than 90% of the populace.
The only time I enjoyed during the lectures was when we broke up into our different skills acquisition groups.
I know my posting to Kaduna was providence as I met some really interesting people who made me re-evaluate some long held ideology, chief among them were the graduates from University of Maiduguri. To have remained unfazed and courageous in the face of the unrest in that region is something deserving of accolades. My corner mates, platoon members and clinic colleagues were pretty cool people.
I’m pretty sure I’ve left a lot of things unsaid like the camp lovers settling for the privacy provided by the cover of the dark under trees or the debtors who drank away more than half of their allawee even before it was paid, but at this juncture I would like to cap the pen by saying that all in all the orientation was a good experience which I’m glad to have been a part of and I hope to discharge my duties to my fatherland to the best of my abilities.
Till next time guys….