Prior to the 24th of November, 2016, I read some articles and blogs on others’ experiences. I was told Abuja, Lagos Ogun and Enugu camps where more exciting than others so I actually prayed to be posted to any of this state. Although I mistakenly chose Gombe state instead of Lagos but I was not scared because I ticked all the boxes in the Northern region where they asked “which state have you visited”so for me there is no way I will be posted to Gombe which was the only Northern state I chose.
My greatest disappointment was to read my Call-up letter some weeks later and I saw “State of Deployment: Gombe”. For me that moment it was as if NYSC should start the registration again so I can correct the mistake of choosing Gombe state.
I did hear many stories about the North and insurgence in the North East region of Nigeria just enough to discourage me, I knew I was in for an adventure but I must say I was excited to visit the North for the first time!
I didn’t pack my bag until the day I printed my Call Up letter. I had a list then of all the items I would need in camp, so I followed my list while packing just to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I boarded a bus from Port Harcourt to Gombe, it was the longest journey on road in my life as at then; travelling on the road for almost 24hours was a big deal for me but with other prospective corpers in the vehicle made it an adventure for me. When we got to ‘welcome to Gombe state’ we were not allowed to cross the Gombe state border because it was 12:00am already so technically we became the vigilantes for Gombe state that night and spent the night outside. The next morning we continued our journey.
I arrived NYSC Gombe state temporary orientation camp Amada in Akko L.G.A 8:00am that morning and I was surprised to know that some persons arrived yesterday. I was directed to the security post where my luggage was checked and I was given a temporary number. When I entered camp, I started embracing strength and endurance for the 3weeks I will spend in camp. At the boys hostel I wrote down my name after showing them my temporary number. Then I was directed where to pick up mattress and shown to my room. I entered the room with my mattress and lo and behold we were 42 in the room! 2 persons per bunk, 1 up and 1 down. The bed I got was new because I arrived early enough. Right from home I made up my mind to take the down bunker and so I was ready to fight for it. If you know you can’t tolerate people and their behaviours, it is advised you take the upper bunk but if you want the comfort of the down bunk no problem. An advantage of the down bunker is that you could store your stuffs (bags, buckets, shoes etc) under the bed.
Next was registration and it took me 4hours to finish up because of poor network! I was given a state code for the whole service year and I filled the forms given to me correctly. Then I was directed to the Kit collection point to be attended to by an NYSC Official who latter turned out to be my platoon officer. The Kit collection point can be very annoying in the sense that you can hardly be given your size. I was given a pair of very small jungle boot and extra large NYSC khaki trouser and jacket + belt, NYSC crested vest, a pair of white shoe, 2 white socks, 2 white T-shirts, 2 white shorts, small booklets, camp schedules, NYSC anthem, rules and regulation, meal ticket etc. Those that get to camp early enough have the advantage of collecting reasonable sizes. If you are not given your sizes you can look for someone to exchange with, I had to exchange my small Jungle boot with a lady and shaped by NYSC khaki trouser and jacket. Every corper is attached to a platoon; your platoon number is the last digit of your state code mine was platoon 3. Most of the activities including morning drills; competitions were conducted according to platoons.
Later in the afternoon the soldiers started chasing corpers to the parade ground as if they were waiting for us to collect our kits. I had to hide my kits inside my bag and come out with my files. It was hot that afternoon and I was not ready to start sweating yet. Be wise o! We had the weekend for parade rehearsals and on Monday morning the next week was our swearing in ceremony, a lot of dignitaries were present but they were mostly representatives, but all the same I was so excited. The ceremony was short and straight to the point because we stood under the sun throughout the whole ceremony. I was open minded and I made new friends, new faces from different backgrounds and religion, etc.
The first week was unbearable I was calling home to complain of one symptom or the other, the drills, the whistle, the lights outs, soldiers chasing corps members from hostel. I hardly slept. The soldiers will always come with their noisy whistle to wake us up by 4.00am to run down to parade ground. I had to wake up by 3.00am, shower, and dress up in my white shirt and white shorts, socks and white shoes and run down to the parade ground. Having to take my bath by 3:00am during that harmattarn period is something I will never forget! Our freedom was taken from us that the camp commandant had to tells us “Federal Government have paid me to discomfort you” but he was friendly and some other soldiers like my “Cover! Cover!!” soldier friend.
From the second week I was beginning to have some fun and had many friends, we received early morning whistle calls, raced down on white and white to the parade ground in full speed because if you don’t, you are wrong. Almost everything you do in camp is wrong except those the soldiers and officials will ask you to do.
We were given a meal ticket with which to queue for food every day – mornings, afternoons, and evenings for our breakfast, lunch, and dinner respectively. Our meals ranged from bread and tea, porridge yam, beans and “strange tuwo masara” while we were privileged to eat jollof rice and fried chicken on Sundays although each meal was barely enough to satisfy us.
We had lectures one of which was SAED (Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship and Development). We were opportune to learn different entrepreneurial skills to help us become employers of labor. I joined the filming and photography SAED.
I decided to join camp Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS) so that I could escape parade but this did not stop me from avoiding the sun totally because of OBS activites and taekwondo (martial Arts) which I also joined.
We had so many social activities on camp we had Miss NYSC, Mr Macho, Miss Bold and Beauty, Cooking competition, cultural dancing, drama competition, football competition, carnival. I patiently waited for our camp fire night only to be disappointed that it has been replaced with carnival! After reading the experiences of others and patiently waiting for “my own” camp fire experience this people disappoint me was what I kept saying to myself.
On the last day of the camp we had to submit our mattresses so I joined to submit mine, dressed up in my khaki trouser and crested vest for the closing ceremony. We had inter-platoon match pass military style. The secrete of enjoying NYSC camp is participation, make sure you partake in anything that interests you and three weeks would fly like three days. It was the best and worst 3 weeks of my life in camp. I miss the NYSC orientation camp but I don’t want to go back there again!. I had lots of fun made crazy new friends and discovered so new tricks to life.
I collected my posting letter alongside other corps members; my posting letter indicated GSSS (Government Science Secondary School) Gombe L.G.A, Gombe state. I was supposed to be happy but the thought of not being able communicate in Hausa still troubled my mind. On getting to my PPA the Vice principal (admin) who was responsible for accepting corpers was busy rejecting corpers as if it is easy to become a graduate in Nigeria but she accepted me when it got to my turn and later we were shown the corpers lodge. Thank God for Winners chapel, they provided a bus that conveyed us to Gombe L.G.A and I spent the weekend in their state headquarters lodge before travelling back to Port Harcourt.
If you are still on your bed you are wrong!
Go to the parade ground and cover!
If you are strolling you are wrong!
Double up! Double!!
Parades shun! Stand @ ezzz!! stand eazzy!!!
Attention by number!
Scoul 1 remain like that, move to the right in 3, right turn
If you are in mami market after lights out you are wrong!
If you don’t share this post you are very wrong!!
Congratulations Ajuwaya 2016 Batch