National Youth Service Corps (N.Y.S.C.)
A compulsory scheme for all Nigerian graduates below the age of thirty years as at time of graduation, in which, they serve their nation by offering almost free services to an organization they have been posted to, in a state that isn’t their state of origin.
Or something like that.
I don’t know if my definition is good enough, but that’s what comes to mind when I think about this scheme. I am one of the hundreds or thousands who prayed that NYSC would be canceled before it was my turn. Jokes on me, and if you are still praying, jokes on you too.
I was ill-equipped for orientation camp. I had to do some tests, get meningitis vaccination, buy items like white t-shirts etc and I had just two days before camp opened. Most importantly, I needed my permanent license as a doctor.
I ended up getting to camp when the sun had set on Tuesday evening. Looked around and saw people already feeling the vibe of the place, in white t-shirts and shorts and white sneakers, wearing tags that bore their state code numbers. After struggling to drag my box and bucket through the gates where one tired police officer merely inspected my luggage, I found where other people like me were. At this point fam, I considered going back home.
There were about a hundred ladies sitting in a quadrangle with their luggage waiting to be given rooms. I wrote my name on a list with a heading “Room 52” and joined them. I couldn’t get a chair so my box substituted for one.
I looked around at the tall buildings that housed the corpers, all buzzing with life like they had lived there for years. Some people were holding bowls and warmers heading towards another building. Everyone looked like they had the place figured out. I felt like I had been thrown in a sea of unknown people.
I eavesdropped and heard that registration was still ongoing so I quickly asked the girl beside me for directions. I was worried about my luggage and missing out on a bed space. The other girls told me my things were safe and about the bed space, they had not called for a new room in almost two hours.
I was a bit agitated about my registration because I could not get the original copy of my permanent medical license and it was compulsory for NYSC registration. I only had a copy. I said a little prayer as I approached the hall because a colleague had been sent away from the registration queue for the same reason.
I sat in front of the woman calmly, presented all my documents like I didn’t know what she was looking for and waited. Then she asked “Where is the original copy of this your permanent license?”, this was the dreaded moment. “I couldn’t get it ma, because my certificate isn’t ready”.
“Hmm. All you UI people! The next set, I won’t be this nice o. What’s you name again? I won’t post you to any PPA until I see that original.”
“Okay Ma. Thank you ma.”
I did a happy dance in my head. I knew it would take a miracle for my certificate to be ready in three weeks but at least, I had scaled through this stage.
I moved on to doing my biometrics and was given my state code. Needless to say, it went seamlessly well.
Then I went back to the quadrangle, hoping to see less people. I was wrong. I spotted my former classmate and friend, Bukky (finally a familiar face), we gisted and lamented a little before she went to do her registration.
We were still under the stars. I was just praying against rain and wondering if I really should have waited till the next morning. I kept checking my battery and making sure my phone was still up and running in case I needed to order an Uber ride back home.
Not long after, the camp officials announced that married women and people with illnesses could go home. They were ready to sign exeats for them. I thought a lot of people were going to jump at the offer and better my chances of getting a bed space, but that didn’t happen.
The state coordinator came to address us and allay our fears, that we would all get places to sleep, even if it was just for the night before proper spaces the next day. They had to move some of the male corpers to create rooms for the female corpers.
After about half an hour, they started calling the rooms. Finally, progress! Some people were MIA when their names were being called and other sharp ones just jumped up after two unanswered calls.
By 11pm, order had been lost. It was past “lights out” already and some of us still had nowhere to sleep. We were all on the edge now, box in one hand, bucket in the other and a flat mattress tucked under your armpit. They called in twos this time. Girls were desperate.
At some minutes past midnight, I finally dropped two mattresses on the floor of a cramped room and laid my bed sheet on it carefully. I was tired and quite pissed but thankful that I had a place to lay my head after such a crazy day.
Nigeria called, Rolayo obeyed.
Tip: Don’t listen to the vendors outside the camp giving you all sorts of fake information. At the entrance of my camp, some guys kept asking incoming corpers to take passport photographs with red backgrounds and it was FAKE NEWS.
Also, buy as many items before coming to camp as they are way more expensive inside.