Diary of a Yankee Babe doing NYSC (Part 1)

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1 week before leaving –
Babe! Why do you want to go and serve in Nigeria? Do you know how long you have been away from that place and now you want to go there for a whole year? You know you can just go to camp for 3 weeks and come right back right? But noooo, you want to go for the whole thing! Smh! You have completely lost your mind!
I had one variation of this conversation or the other at least 10 times before I finally left the US for Nigeria. Even before my freshman year in college, I had decided that when I finished undergrad, I would go back and do my NYSC. I think my first year in college was the first time I mentioned it to my mom. Then I was only 4 years out of Nigeria and she laughed it off saying probably by the time I finish college, I would have forgotten that, but I didn’t and so by year 3, I started preparing their minds I wasn’t going to grad school straight as planned but taking a year off to go do NYSC. I didn’t realize how much it shocked my mom until the day I was finally leaving when she came into my room and just stared at me as I made some final adjustments to my luggage and said, “you this girl, so u actually made this happen and are leaving.”
I considered everything I was leaving behind but I knew that I needed to do this because I needed to get back home. I truly needed a break and I wanted to do something for naija that wasn’t just talk. I felt like there was only so much I could do just sitting there so this was the first step for me. So off I went, back to the motherland, filled with excitement and nerves i couldn’t have fathomed.

Nigeria – Week 1
Oga abeg, stay in line, cos if u no stay, I go kick you out of this line and you no go fit comot for hear ooo!
My annoyance started right inside the airport! They were so disorganized and communication between the people was almost nonexistent! The same man someone had just yelled at for going out of line had been told by one of the customs agents to come out of the line he had stayed in and come over, but an agent walking around was the one yelling at him to return to line, and wouldn’t hear the explanation the poor man had to give. I just got out of there as fast as possible. Now I am in Abuja and so the traffic situation isn’t as bad as it tends to be in Lagos. But honestly, if they actually considered and punished traffic violations, Abuja government would make so much money! People were driving like maniacs and the most important part of the car to them is the horn, which was used when necessary and when not! Also obedience of traffic light is relative, and basically non-existent at night (because as my cousin says, why the h*** will I stop for a light at night, when someone could come mug me while waiting)
I also noticed a whole lot of aggression in everyone around. From the gateman who is in charge of a little lot who yelled at my uncle for trying to park in a specific spot when we went to the NYSC office (who later had to suck up to the same person for a tip), to the NYSC people who thanks to their lack of order, made the process way harder than it should have been. Yet they kept yelling at us who came to register as if we were little children. It’s like everyone is power hungry, no matter how little their power is and so they try to make sure that you know they have some sort of hold over you getting what you need to get from them.
The officers at NYSC being a pain in the ass also showed me another thing, which I kept noticing as I stayed longer here, “It is all about who you know!” After waiting for about 2 hours in lines, my uncle got impatient and finally made a call to someone he knew in the office. The lady turned out to be a high level officer who came down from her office, took my paper in hand and got all the necessary marks and signatures on it. The process that had taken us 2 hours beforehand with little to show for it took her about 30 minutes and we were done and ready to be out. As the lady was sorting my papers out, I could hear people who were still in line grumbling about the unfairness of my not having to. I felt for them because I knew if I was in their position, I would be saying the same thing, but at that moment, I just wanted to get out of that place.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting stuff. It's so true that the level of aggression and "me too go flex muscle" syndrome is quite rampant in naija. I guess it comes from our frustration.

    And the sad about it all is that even when we agree or try to obey the law, the unnecessary foolishness and difficulty that can come with the process makes people impatient and most people end up bribing their way through because they're tired.

    You said they were yelling at you like y'all were children? That's not too bad. A few months back when i went to the embassy at Oregun to renew my visa, not only did they yell, they pointed guns at us like we were animals. It was so sad .(granted it wasn't the same experience at the Lekki embassy branch. With the Lekki branch, they just don't think there should be more chairs for people to sit on outside). Naija ehn…

  2. "…It’s like everyone is power hungry,…" no wonder Leo Rosten said "I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong."

    Now we ought to demystify the seeming 'powers' of the powers that be by not dignifying it.

  3. Naija power trip man… everyone is an oga/madam for their mind… even senior houseboy is oga to junior houseboy…lol

  4. pls i need info on NYSC since their website is so freaking bad…am i guaranteed to be on the next available batch as long as I am in 9ja or should I start the process way in advance?also, is there any way to do it from out here, cos if i try to involve my 9ja peeps, they can be sooo discouraging abt doing this?

    thanks

  5. Lol really? You left here to do NYSC? Mehn I am so removed from Nigeria that when I saw the title of this post it took me a second to understand that you weren't talking about New York Sports Club.

    Good luck to you. Although I cannot understand WHY you decided to do this.

  6. i wish i could contact L Bridges… im newly relocated / relocating to nig after 'donkey' years nd would love to share experiences

  7. So sad am jst commenting now, bout 1 month after these comments, sorry ppl. Kay. If u can get ur email address or phone number to me somehow I would love to talk n share experiences. @ just asking. You actually don't need to do anything ahead of time but you have to come to abuja about a month before (I don't know the exact date for the next batch) and register that you want to be a part of the batch. Sadly there's no way to do it unless u r here yourself which kinda sucks bc its a one day thing then u don't need to do any other thing for abt a month. Don't let ppl discourage you! I have started the process now n even though its not easy n takes some getting used to things, am still glad am doing it so far 🙂 @ myne, sorry but no am nt in this pic, its a random one from the net. Will try to put one am in into subsequent posts. Thanks all for reading

  8. We learned from our colonial masters, not ways to improve, grow, progress or develop, but ways to dominate and control one another

    • I'm not sure we learnt the controlling nd dominating traits from the colonial masters though… it is too embeded in our culture, especially the yoruba culture that I am familiar with. The colonial masters are not controlling and dominating of their own… that's my experience of over 25 years. We do not seem to be capable of improving anything… came back to Lagos nd the culture to meet it as i left it, maybe even worse, more controlling nd dominating. That's my experience…

  9. Isn’t it funny how your Naija experience started from the airport..them for calm down make you reach like 1 week before them start to de show themselves..lol. But seriously though, this write up is more heartbreaking cause it’s true. I wonder when things will change..God help us.

  10. Well, that’s the 9ja we know n live in o. There r still the few who know what to do right and do it, but the majority on power trips r the reason iJust go home after work and stay indoors. No energy for one olodo to use me catch trips

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