Tags Posts tagged with "NYSC"

NYSC

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Last Tuesday had me getting off a plane in Abuja and having to deal with customs yet again. They wanted me to pay N10,000 (don’t ask me what for cos I definitely didn’t know and was too jetlagged and sleepy to try to figure out). But I am getting ahead of myself. I was just returning from the US, after having gone for a 2 week trip/break. It was great to be back there even if it was for such a short time. I told my boss of the need to travel in May, even though I had known about it since before I even started service. But of course I had to build rapport with them before I could ask for such a thing. You see, I am a rule follower. And NYSC says that you are not allowed to travel during your year serving (if fact those muthaluvas say you can’t even travel out of the state you are serving in). As you can probably imagine, that rule doesn’t fly with any of us. But it was on an extra level that I wanted to go out of the country for 2 weeks. To do that, you would have to write a letter to NYSC stating where you wanted to go and what for. If it wasn’t for an official reason, then you could very well be rejected and that was the end of that! As you should know if you read my diary, my tolerance level with NYSC and their rules is very low so all that story they were telling was serious long thing. So as soon as I was comfortable with my boss and we were pals enough where I could talk to him about it, I informed him of my need to travel. He didn’t even fuss too much, after saying the time I wanted to go for was too long. And after I explained why it had to be so, he said ok.

Honestly the trip was too short and it made me just miss the US more but it was good to get out of here and see all my loved ones. It also brought to mind the saying that home is where the heart is. I have found myself warming up to Nigeria (well to Abuja for now, we’ll see about the future) but when I got back to the US, it was so much easier to get into the swing of things! I was driving the same day I arrived and I was back to seeing the people I know and have missed for so long. Also, my immediate family members are in the US and just being home and having mother take care of me, seeing my siblings and just catching up to all the things I missed was so amazing. Right now, my heart is over there as that is where my family and friends are (no attacks or anything, to each person his/her own). The trip was for 2 events and it was basically supposed to be chill time. I did get to chill. I ate like nobody’s business and shopped a lot too (mostly for others though). I reconnected with friends, celebrated successes, caught up with people and just generally saw how everyone was doing and moving forward. Being there did make me feel a little bit like I was taking the slow pace though. People I graduated with were already in grad school (and all its equivalents) and I hadn’t even applied. Also the program I want to go for needs work experience and even though that was what I was working on, it still felt like I was slow compared to them. I do need to get over that feeling fast!

Back in Nigeria, I have been moved to another department and another office YET AGAIN! I moved in July, right before I travelled and it is more work here but I really don’t mind. The advantage of all these movements is that I am getting exposed to several aspects of the bank and what they do, and I am getting exposed to them at a higher level than most other corps members can ever hope to. I am also getting to meet and know the topmost bosses and they are getting to know me and see my work ethic. So much so that the manager in charge of the whole Northern part of Nigeria was telling my boss to make sure that I am kept on after my service year. It is quite nice to be identified for your work and not who you know as is usually the case. The new branch I’m in now is the biggest and busiest of the branches we have in Abuja. It also has the most staff. It is a bit of a challenge to get to know the staff because the banking hall is downstairs and our offices are upstairs and we don’t really get to interact much. I try my best after work to go and get to know the people though, it is slow but it isn’t as bad as when I had just arrived anymore.

So unofficially, service ends in the middle of September (thunda fayah them if they try to extend it). That means I am free from the madness then and free to do my own thing. The main question on everybody’s lips while I was in the US is when are you coming back finally and what’s next. I couldn’t answer either one definitively because I truly didn’t know. 2 weeks before I had left for my trip, my boss had called me and asked me what my plans were after service was done. I mumbled through it as well and he basically said the bank would like to offer me permanent employment as they liked my work ethic and all. He even offered me a choice between being a customer consultant (sales) and going into the operations department of the bank. I told him I would need to discuss it with my parents and get back to him (that wasn’t true, my parents would stand by me with whichever decision I made but I needed to stall and so that worked for that moment). In addition to that, the person in charge of public sector also informed me that I was welcomed to work with him if I wanted to. He had the space and since I had helped him out from time to time, (as you can probably guess by now, I am very hyper and multitask well) he knew I worked hard and he said he would like to have me on his team. I have had other top managers who come in from Lagos and other parts of the country and who I have interacted with in one form or the other also ask me what is the next step and 2 of them also offer me employment in their various departments.

So what am I going to do? Well I have tentatively decided that I am going to stay on and work while I apply to schools for my MBA. I will keep on working for as long as possible until I get accepted and I have to go back for school. I figured it is better to stick with a good job with a good bank that I have here than to go over there and possibly twiddle my thumbs waiting to see what will happen, (you all know how the job market is over there right now). Am I happy with my decision, 80% yes! The other 20% wants to go back to what I’m used to; to my family, friends, my potential boo and get back into the swing of things. The 80% is content with being here, enjoying the learning experience (as I realize nothing learned is ever wasted) and soaking up as much as I can before it is all over, because it seems like just yesterday when I first left the US for Naija to come serve and it has been about 11 months now so the next few months I will be here for will go by so fast, I might as well make the most of it. Of course I will still curse NEPA when the light goes out and I will still flip when a rouge driver shows his idiocy but it is not the end of the world and all things considered, I am much more blessed than I let on.

PS – I know I am really lazy when it comes to updating and I can only ask for forgiveness. I really do love all you people who read (both those who comment and the silent readers) and I appreciate you taking the time out and I will try to do better but please just bear with me. A lot is going on right now and I am trying to take everything in stride. Also pray for me as I embark on the road to study for and take the GMATs. I am panicking every time I think about it and I don’t know why that is the case. Again, thanks for reading and God’s blessings on every one of you.

Image Source: http://nigeriantimes.blogspot.com

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Lynxxx

Pepsi Ambassador, Lynxxx, performed live at the NYSC Orientation Camp on Friday, July 22nd hitting the stage with his in-house producer, Ikon, Tiwa Savage, Saucekid, Ikechukwu, Show Dem Camp, Eva, Play Records All Stars, Davido, A1 Sugarboy, BlackMagic, Bad Man Floss and a few others.  The event was hosted by the BEAT 99.9 FM’s Oreka Godis and DJ Caise was on the wheels of steel entertaining our nation’s corpers on camp grounds.

The “Lynxxx & Friends” campus tour presented by Pepsi and produced by Eclipse is a cross-country promotional tour with a focus on creating an opportunity for upcoming artistes in the Nigerian entertainment industry to showcase their talent. The programme caters to the influential 21st Century youth (Generation ‘Y’ & Millennials) by feeding into their five senses and giving them a concert experience that is second to none.
Pepsi hosted a singing competition and three corpers were given gifts courtesy of the soft-drink giant. Over 2,000 youth corpers were in attendance sporting their ‘Suck belle make the shirt fine’ tee-shirts over NYSC khaki trousers. According to a Syndik8 label rep, plans have been made for the ‘Lynxxx & Friends’ tour  to be held in the North, East and South-south region of the country, on a much larger scale. Diary sessions from the tour will air on music stations across the country starting mid-August and will be released on DVD in a few months.
For more information, visit the Lynxxx Web site and Facebook page. Follow Lynxxx on Twitter – @chukie_lynxxx or join the #thisislynxxx Tweet-Up and find out more about upcoming projects from the Syndik8 Records CEO
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Eva Alordiah
Play All Stars
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Lynxxx
Lynxxx
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Tiwa Savage
Sauce Kid
Sauce Kid
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The 2011 NYSC Batch ‘B’ Orientation commenced on the 5th of July 2011 and is expected to last until the 26th. Recent news reports have it that prospective NYSC corps members had previously besieged the NYSC National secretariat in Abuja to influence their postings away from potential trouble spots or otherwise what is now known as ‘Boko Haram’ states in the North. I find it hard to believe that barely 3 months after innocent youth corps members were slaughtered in some states in the North following the last Presidential elections and all the hoopla that followed, it does appear that the issue has since faded away to obscurity and in typical Nigerian fashion it’s business as usual. We seem to pretend like nothing ever happened and the lives of those brave young men and women and others that were killed seems to have been forgotten reinforcing the argument that human life in our country seems to be worth very little. The truth remains that the wounds of what happened in the April elections is still fresh in the mind made worse by the lack of any purposeful action taken to bring those responsible to justice and the inability of the National Assembly or civil society to hold any form of public debate about the future of the NYSC scheme. In the light of these atrocities, why would any sane parent or relative allow their children to serve in these states where insecurity currently rules? Or are we waiting for another disaster to happen only to hear dull speeches from politicians telling us how those killed are heroes of democracy and paid the ultimate sacrifice? Well enough of that, we want our brightest young men and women to be alive to apply their skills and knowledge to the challenges that confronts us everyday as a nation.We don’t want dead heroes but we want them alive to contribute to nation building.

On the flipside, when these sort of things happen I am left wondering what those whom this will affect directly are doing about it or is it a case of all man for himself and God for us all? Let me start by challenging the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) whose mandate is to represent the interest of Nigerian students and youths. When are they going to start engaging the powers that be on issues like this which is at the very heart of any interest group that claims to speak on behalf of students and youths? What have the prospective corps members done or are doing to mobilise themselves to engage their Governors and National Assembly members in their states in order to create publicity and also to give it the attention it deserves; to also ensure they were not posted to places where their lives might be in danger. Then we take a close look at the role of the media in all this; who sets the news agenda in the Nigerian media and why has this not taken a prominent news space in the editorials and columnists?

It is sad if you believe the papers that their has been intense lobbying by individuals to influence their postings to state where they desire to serve. Who is going to lobby for those without ‘connections’ in high places? It is high time we began to be selfless in our thoughts and actions if we are ever going to challenge the status quo in our society. In the wider context, this highlights the ignorance and lack of cohesion in the way we advocate for change in Nigeria. I am very worried going by the recent spate of bomb blasts especially in some sections of country. The whole despicable atrocities that happened after the April elections is staring us in the face if urgent steps are not taken to address the NYSC scheme. There has got to be sweeping reforms on the future of the scheme and on the interim corps members should be posted to states within their region pending the outcome of reforms. I do like the NYSC scheme and what it stands for being a product of the scheme myself but its current format and the danger it exposes our young and brightest is unsustainable.

Our country is at a crossroad and the least we could now is to engage in collective engagement to address the issues that has held us hostage in the last 50 years. If we keep speaking and acting in discordant tunes them I’m afraid our collective short memory which has become an albatross of some sort will come to haunt us later.

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Hello people,
How has it been? I know I am a shameful and bad blogger who doesn’t stay faithful to updating the diaries. I really have no valid reasons except not too much new stuff is happening with work and nysc and it would suck to come here and whine about work or whatever so I have been in hiding. However, I thought to do something different with this part and do a walk-through of sorts of the progress through the 8 plus months I have been in the country and the best and worst parts of being here. Since I am giddy right now, let’s start with the best parts.

BEST: in no particular order:

FOOD: anybody who knows me (which is very few on this blog I know) knows how much I LOVEEEEE food! As in I no dey play when it comes to food and I am always willing to try something new. I also like outside food a bit too much. So you can imagine the first few weeks after I arrived, I was trying to eat everything. I was sick almost everyday back then. But mehn, the food is on point. Isi ewu, suya, asun, sharwama, all kinds of fruits that I haven’t had in a while – agbalumo (or udara), sugar cane, proper roasted corn from the side of the road, booli, mangoes; the restaurants, the joints, even the gardens! I have even been to bukas and such in search of good food and I swear, fancy is nice and all but seriously, for me, the best foods are just the no frills or fuss one! I love the traditional food much more than the over-fancified ones :D but hey, that’s just me.

MEN: ok ok ok this is where I will eat crow and admit I was partially wrong with some comments I made in part 2 of this diaries saying I could not mess with naija men because they are not as progressively thinking as others. Like I said, I am partially wrong. Men in this country are quite nice sha. And they know how to appreciate the amount of beauty God has surrounded them with in this country. They are also very generous when they want to be and want to impress. I have been lucky to meet some very amazing guys in the time I have been here (some horrendous ones too sha but that’s a story for later). It is said that naija guys are not as romantic as other guys but they no dey carry last sha. Sometimes, even going way overboard than necessary but then it seems as if naija girls have higher expectations from their men that I am used to. Anywho, I enjoy the attention, the compliments, the gifts and everything else. It is quite fun actually. There are times that I am completely broke and by making just a call, I get whatever I am in need of… this is still even though these guys know I am not looking to get into anything with them (well I guess they are hopeful), but definitely more generous and giving than my yankee brothers (I am not passing judgment on yall yankee bros ooo, just making observations before yall crucify me! I know say una hustle no easy)

CLUBS – Na for naija I enter club, dance till I no fit anymore, drank a bit, ran to the bathroom to touch up and back to the dance floor for the whole night. The clubs are amazing, the music is almost always on point and you can keep dancing literarily all night unless you just don’t want to. Also, I can go to the club with nothing on me and still be good on a steady round of drinks and snacks as I want. Best example of that was my birthday weekend. We had heard about this relatively new club called Taboo and wanted to check it out. Immediately we entered (7 girls and a guy who’s like big bro/bodyguard/arm candy), we got space cleared for us and guys who came through asking what we wanted to drink while scoping our bro to see which one of the girls was his and which they could talk to. There was an inflow of drinks all though and more than enough shots to be taken and we only paid for one round of those drinks!

HAIR – I do my hair whenever I want to. It is so ridiculously cheap! People were in shock when I told them I kept a weave in for about 6 weeks in the US. They don’t realize that hair is not as cheap there as it is for them here. These days, I carry hair for 2-3 weeks and take it off and I am still saving money as opposed to the 6-8weeks hair kept over there. Also there are so many style options that I just get to experiment as much as I want to. There is the downside to it though that they don’t know what to do with natural hair most places, so I am left to braids and weaves most times (ps if anyone knows a good salon in Abuja where they aren’t afraid of natural hair, please give a shout-out).

WEATHER – need I say more? Even right now in the rainy season, the weather is still on point. Seriously, there’s not much to say here. Only person who would hate the weather is someone who just loves cold weather like that!
Overall, there is so much to love about being here. I was talking to a friend (who is also thinking about coming to serve) the other day and I was just telling her that life here just seems chiller. I couldn’t explain myself satisfactorily but to be honest, I am just chiller and more relaxed being here than I have been in a long time. Of course there are times I want to pull my hair out in frustration but all things considered, I am pretty good ooo.

WORST – in no particular order

MEN – yeah yeah, I know I was just eating crow but dang homie! Naija men are on some other levels. First they are so damn persistent and don’t understand the concept of NO and that it doesn’t actually mean try harder, I really am not interested in you! At all! And being persistent is going to make me want to choke your ass, not to fall deeper for you! Also, the amount of married or engaged or obviously-in-a-relationship men who have tried to ask girls out is ridiculous. They have no shame whatsoever. It is a common sight to see a man, meet his wife today and the next day see him with his girlfriend. It is a topic that has been beaten to death but it is something that irks me so I can’t help but to mention it. Would turn into a weary suspicious person if I was dating a naija man here, especially as I am to go back after service and I suck at long distance (it is based solely on trust and most naija men can’t be trusted – no vex my naija men, I am just telling it as I see it, still love yall sha :*).

UNAVAILABLE AMENITIES – I miss my car!!!! Thinking about having to take drop everywhere sometimes makes me just stay in and chill. I can’t have a cake craving at midnight and drive somewhere to go get it! I miss fast internet, youtube, all my shows in the US (I am a show junkie btw). I miss 24 hours light without the endless drone of the generator. I miss unlimited minutes and texts, I miss living alone and being able to go out whenever I want and come back whenever I want (this is probably good though cos naija ain’t safe enough for that). I miss a whole lot of things that make me want to go back instantly but like I said, there’s still so much I love about being here that make up for what I miss.

MAKEUP – Naija girls wear too much make-up, fullstop! As in, if you put 10 girls together, it is hard to find one that is not made-up and very easy to find at least 3 who are over made-up! I found out that I was wearing more and more makeup since I’ve been here than I have done ever in my life. I was the person who went to class without a lick of makeup. I just dabbed white powder and lip gloss and I would be good to go. Now I spend extra time on makeup every single day. I finally had to realize what was happening and tone it down. But I go out and see some people with so much makeup on their face it is like they iced a cake. As in how can you even walk around with that on your face! And the colors!!! Where do I begin? Color combinations are supposed to compliment each other but then when you put metallic blue, red, purple and green together at the same time on the same face, girl, you are just doing too much! Not saying I know it all with makeup but many ladies really need to take classes on right application of makeup!
All in all, with any experience, there will always be the good and the bad. I am about to start talking to my bank about retention but I myself don’t know if I want them to retain me. I think I would prefer to get a letter from them in which they say I can come back after I finish my masters and work with them then. Advice please, would that even be possible to do and is it the best idea? I know if they retain me now, the pay wouldn’t be that good and I am seriously not sure if I want to stay in Naija another one or two years while postponing my masters. What should I do?

Ps – Shoutout to my batch B corps members who are passing out tomorrow (I wrote this Wednesday, June 15). I am so happy yall are being released from your sentence lol. Celebrations all around tomorrow and all through this weekend! See why I love naija again :D.

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I remember the day I graduated from University with my bachelor’s degree. I was so ready to get off with my life. I’ve always been told that education is my key to the future and I was ready to get on with it, but first we must clear this thing called NYSC.

NYSC, the National Youth Service Corps is a program instituted in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild Nigeria after the civil war. It requires every Nigerian graduate that intends to work in Nigeria to serve the country for one year with minimal pay. In this year, each corper (as they are called) is posted to a town, village or city in the country where they will be assigned a job typically based on their skill set, but not all the time.

For a lot of us young graduates it’s a waste of time, but hey, in the grand scheme of things, one year wont hurt, right?

After the 3 week camp I was posted to Suleja, Niger State, and although I had never been there, I was quite excited to experience a part of Nigeria that I don’t think I would normally get to experience.

This is the year of elections and with that comes opportunities to make some extra cash working at INEC offices and being involved with the tasks that needed to be executed for a successful and fair election process. Why not? I get to make an impact and make some extra money at it. It’s not like they are paying me a lot anyways. N9,000 a month is not what anyone can survive on in this country.

Senatorial elections are being held tomorrow and I had enlisted to work at one of the polling stations. I woke up today feeling very funky with myself. I brushed my teeth, and got ready while listening to Fela. Fela’s music always puts me a great mood. I’m in a much better mood because it’s Friday and it’s the end of what has been a pretty rough week. Even though I’m going to work tomorrow, I still plan on enjoying my Friday night by touching a few joints here and there around town with my friends. Plus the idea of making some extra money tomorrow and being involved in elections gets me pretty excited. After all the future is ours, and what better way to get involved than to be hands on at the poll.

The day was going on ok so far and it was getting towards the end of the day… About that time to report to the local INEC office to check my name and find out what poll I’m assigned to for tomorrow’s elections.

I called Momsy and Popsy just to talk small. My mom’s always telling me to careful… “you know it’s election period,..” As every other person would probably say, “ah mommy, nothing dey happen. I’ll be fine.” I buzzed my babe, to see how she’s doing. I haven’t seen her in weeks, and we miss each other a lot… I’m thinking of visiting her once these elections are over. I sent a text to my brother and sisters just to say hail small…. We do it every Friday. These days my elder sister sounds like momsy with all her advice. It’s all out of love I’m sure.

I got to the INEC office and exchanged greetings with the familiar faces. Regular tings you know… checked my name to see where I’m posted to and just decided to stay small and gist. I’m not in any rush anyways. Time still dey. We were there just gisting, laughing and cracking jokes when all of a sudden, I hear a loud explo………………..

Disclaimer: This is purely fictional and any relation to a real life person is purely coincidental. I figured it hits home a little bit more when you feel like the corpers that died are actually people, and not just numbers thrown out in the news. That this can really happen to anyone of us, our brothers, or our sisters.

This is dedicated to all NYSC corpers that died either in Suleja, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Bauchi, and anywhere else where there was electoral violence. RIP to all the NYSC corpers that lost their lives during the election period for no reason other than serving their country. They are in my opinion the true national heroes of this election period.

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Dear people,

I have been soooo bad about updating the diary and I sincerely apologize about that. Feel free to discuss my punishment and we can put it into effect. I have just had the craziest block when it comes to updating on what’s going on with service and maybe we can explore why as I write this entry. It’s been over 2 months since I updated and a lot of things have happened in that time. I have been moved to the bank’s regional office in Abuja as a PA to the regional manager. I really really REALLY hated it at first and now it has been downgraded to just hating it. First day I arrived, I waited for the boss to arrive as he was not on time and my goody-two-shoes self had struck once again and made me arrive at my new place of work as early as 7:30am. He eventually sauntered in around 9am (it rocks to be big boss na) and welcomed me. He told me where I would be stationed (I have my own mini cubicle – nice) and told the outgoing Batch A corps member to orient me as to what I would be doing and what my duties would be. So basically I have been moved from doing teller job and meeting with customers and such and I am now in an office, in front of computer and a phone doing secretarial duties (kinda hate that btw).

The first week went by in a blur since the batch A corps member was there and I was just learning the ropes. That meant I just came in and sat in front of him and did the bare minimum. Unfortunately, he left after the first week and just chilled until they actually passed out and I got the reins. The cool thing about my job is that being in the regional office gave me access to communicate with all the branches and get to meet and know more people. Also the regional office is in a building which has a branch in it as well as other operational offices and such so there are more people around than would be if I were just in a branch on its own. It took a while to get used to the place and the people. The first month, I was always online reading blogs, updated on some really good ones and that was all I did with my time. For someone who is used to always being active, this really sucked! I started talking about it though and people in other departments heard my complaints and so they told me I was free to come to their departments and see what they do there so I tend to go to other departments and check out what they are doing and such. I also go to the branch on the ground floor and continue to learn the ropes and help with operational stuff. I also get more leeway with going out and such, as long as I have done the work I am given, I can go out with the bankers on sales and account openings. This allows me to interact with people and that’s something I missed about being in the bank. It is now over 2 months that I have been here. I know the ropes, know the people and know the work relatively well. I am basically a jack of all trades and I love it because it helps me learn just about everything about running a branch but also seeing the backstage stuff that occurs before the bank can run smoothly.

My schedule is rather erratic. There could be days where I would do absolutely nothing, just sit in front of a computer and peruse available websites and blogs (all the good ones are blocked – even yahoomail and gmail no gree enter). Then there are days where I barely remember to eat (until my stomach screams that is). There is some sort of sense to it I guess. The beginning and end of every month is very madly busy as we have to compile many reports and send them to the head offices, as well as prepare for trainings and meetings where some of the reports would be broken down and analyzed and new sets of instructions given to us to relay to the branches. As PA to the regional manager, I get to attend all these meetings and it is pretty cool getting to see all these big Whigs in their element and also getting to go to trainings I usually wouldn’t even see the inside of and learning many things it would have taken me years to learn normally. But the disadvantages of those times are that I am usually doing ten things at a time and there is still stuff waiting to be done. Also, I am usually in the office till way late. There was a week where the earliest I went home was 8pm and I was in the bank till almost 10pm once. I wanted to curse my boss to the lowest hell that day!

On March 28th, Mr. Aribaba wrote an article about hypocrisy, focusing on married men having affairs smack dab in front of everyone and not keeping it hidden, it was a well timed article, coming right after I had just insulted one of my co-workers who basically propositioned me outright! The thing about this branch is that the people who told me that the biggest whores are in this branch knew what they were talking about. Almost every guy here is always running after the ladies, married or not. They have the ring very obviously on their fingers and they don’t hesitate to ask you out for drinks and such. Of course, no issues with going to drinks with co-workers and I have gone before when it was a big group of us but when it is just you and I, and you are asking me to come for drinks with you at Transcorp Hilton, and to go clubbing with you afterwards and when I ask about your wife, you tell me that I should not worry because she is in UK and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt you, I know that it is time to run away from you. The guy now had the guts to ask why I was running away from him and that all he wants is to show me a good time. How else can I tactfully tell you I don’t roll that way (they don’t understand tact unfortunately so sometimes, you gotta spell it out outright). Unfortunately, many of the ladies at the bank DO roll that way. The sad part of the thing is that I even know people who are dating married men in the bank (with proof sef) and I know others who are taking stuff from these men and even though it is not to the point where they have slept with each other, you know it is going to get to that stage. Now I am not judging anyone because heaven knows we all have our vices. And I don’t think the bank has an issue with co-workers dating each other but I am sure even the bank will have issues with a married man dating his colleague. Since I came to the branch, a lot of the men there, single AND married, have asked me out. It is even worse because it is not limited to the people in the branch alone. Since I liaise with other branches as well as other regions in the north, and they tend to come to FCT for trainings and conferences and meetings, I get to talk to managers and bankers all over the north. There have been several instances of these people finally meeting me, maybe after I have called them a couple of times and then immediately asking me out. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some very cute and nice people in the bank and I have accepted offers for drinks and such with some who impress me so I am not knocking every single one of them. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with a little office flirting as long as both parties are single and everyone is on the same page. It’s the married men who won’t face their homes I get pissy about!

My social life is not too bad, despite the wahala of this fracking bank. I am usually too tired during the week after work to want to do anything but go home and sleep and get ready for the next day. Weekends however are fair game and usually involve some sort of fun or party with my friends. I made a group of friends when in NYSC camp and they are the ones that gelled into my closest people. It is a strange weekend when I don’t see them, unless I travel. I love the clubbing scene here just as much as in Lagos. My favorite club is Play. The DJ is almost always on point and I usually have a blast – especially when I’m with my friends. We all love to have fun so no sitting around bumming, we always get on the dance floor and have a blast. Other nice ones are Roma, Cubana, Taboo, Aqua (not one of my favorites to tell the truth). I need to tour Abuja better because I can’t live here for a whole year and not know as many places as possible. Volunteers in this aspect are welcome :D or at least ideas for where to go and what to check out. I am usually jealous of Lagos because most of the big and good events are happening down there and not here. But I still make the most of where I am. I have made lots of friends and meet lots of guys thanks to where I work and where I hang out. Some I consider others I drop. There’s something about a girl who has lived in obodo oyinbo for so long then came here to serve that is a novelty for some people. I don’t appreciate being that, especially seeing as there is much more to me than that so if that is the vibe I get from a guy, I try to avoid him. There’s another issue that bugs me and that is the surprise that a lot of guys show after having a long and intense conversation with me. They start raving about how amazing it is to find a woman who is such an intelligent conversationalist. It makes me wonder why that is such a surprise (don’t crucify me ooo people, I am just wondering, not implying an insult to anyone). I mean I am always around such intelligent women so is it that the average naija woman doesn’t focus on the issues of what is going on in the world and around her and cannot hold her own end in a conversation, or does it just speak to the women these guys are meeting (again, it’s a question, thou shalt not crucify T.L.)

I have now been in naija for 7 months and doing NYSC runs for 6 months. Nowadays, when someone asks me why I left my whole family and all I have known for 9 years now to come do this, I tell them that I lost my mind. However, that is generally the frustration talking. Would I change my mind and not do this if I could turn back time? Absolutely not! It is not easy and there are days I end up cursing everyone around me, from my oga to the security man at the office but overall, I am enjoying most of the experience. I am also learning a whole lot about myself and making friendships and connections that are bound to be useful to me in the future so no matter how frustrated I might get from time to time, I am still glad I am doing this. 5 months to go. E no easy ooo! I have actually missed the US more than I would have thought (I think it is the people I miss more than the place but who knows). Once again, I have to make a change. The person I am PA to has been promoted and we are moving to yet another branch. So after getting to know these people and making friends with them and such, it is time to go do it al over again in yet another place. Looking on the bright side though, that’s a whole new set of people to make friends with and connections to be made. Hopefully exposure to the bank’s other aspects of business will also come along with the move. I will be sure to update faster about the move and not wait almost 3 months, again I am sorry for that, forgive me and know it was not by choice. Till next time people, here’s to free and fair election for presidency!

Ps – I voted for the senatorial election and will be voting in presidential. I was so proud to see that there were no hassles and such during the voting process. And also to see so many youths come out and vote, it shows that now we are passionate about the change that needs to happen in our country. To those who are in the country and have registered, please vote and to those who are not in the country, please keep supporting the initiatives for positive change in our nation, nobody is going to do it for us, we have to stand and do it for ourselves, all the best!

Image source: http://nawa4u.blogspot.com

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Being a goody-two –shoes never pays off but I can’t help who I am. So on my first day of work, I was petrified because I was about 10 minutes late. I walked into my new work place with trepidation that an almighty voice would shout my lateness to the whole world, what a way to start. However, my new bosses and co-workers didn’t mind, especially since they didn’t even know a new corps member was even coming to work with them. Of course, once again forgetting that I was in naija, I expected a memo to have gone out to the manager at least, saying that he was getting a new worker at his branch but I walked in and on asking for the branch manager, I was told he wasn’t even at work yet. I was stumped at that point but a kind lady there could tell I was an otondo and asked what it was about. I told her I was supposed to resume today and she sent me back downstairs to go talk to the team leader for operations. I got downstairs and went to see her and she too was stumped on what to do with me since she hadn’t been given any advance warning about a new worker. She pulled one of the other workers who worked there (I would later find out she was a Batch A corps member) and asked her to show me around and introduce me to people. After this was done, there was really nothing for me to do so I just tagged along with my new work buddy, J.  (PS- I am working in a bank, no need to delve into which one :D) J worked in the bulk room so I went in there and just watched for the first day. I would end up being in the bulk room for the whole time I was in the branch but it was a mellow job. That first day, thanks to my antsy nature, I was able to see what she was doing fast enough but only helped with counting the money and packaging it for her to sign and stamp. I started work on a Wednesday and by the Friday; I was doing everything I had watched all alone with just the other bulk teller available to ask questions from.

Something stumped me by the same Friday though; I had only been working at the bank for just 3 days, hadn’t gotten any training or information on the bank except what I had read online and was basically a novice at the best definition of the word. However, they were having some sort of expo at Transcorp Hilton and they chose me to go and represent the personal and business  (PBB)aspect of the bank. They gave me a little cheat sheet right there and then and that was what I spent my whole time looking at so that I didn’t screw up, so that the few times I actually had to present, I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. However, if anyone had asked any deep questions, I would have stood there looking like a fool, because I truly hadn’t been given any training. (I mean, am I asking for too much when I ask to get a quick- maybe one day- training on the bank I work with, what they do, what my role is etc so I know what am talking about if a situation like that Friday arose again?) Then again, maybe I was expecting too much from them again, I can’t get used to these Naija ways of doing these things I guess.

By this point, after all the many ways NYSC had screwed me over, I was determined to get a break from them, damn the consequences. I had found out from the friends I made in Kaduna that most of them got 2 weeks break from their PPPs to go and get their possessions from wherever they were from and I decided I wanted my own 2 weeks break as well. Added to this was the fact that my family was coming to Nigeria for the xmas holiday and I wasn’t going to miss them just to stay here and work, I needed some TLC and just wanted to get some rest before I went back into the BS I had gotten myself into. I set the wheels in motion by going to see my team leader and telling her that I needed to get the 2 weeks “NYSC required that I get to go get my possessions” (this statement was later proved false in a very public way :P). I also stated that I couldn’t take it before I started work since the possessions I was to pick up were coming from the United States and would not come in until the middle of the month. The woman didn’t have a problem with this story and said she had no problem with it as long as I go to the head office and inform human resources of what I was planning to do. I went and did as she instructed and they also said they had no problem with it, as long as I got a letter from my team leader to the effect of the dates I was off for. I did all of this and on the 16th of December, I packed my luggage and got the hell out of Abuja, with all its NYSC madness and came over to Ibadan and Lagos, where entertainment and fun and no stress and eating and all around mega fun was the order of the day (wish I could post pictures, they would explain better than any words I can how much fun I truly had, shout out to all my loves who made the time fun). On the 24th, I got a call from my team leader telling me that HR came to the branch and was annoyed to find that all the corps members had disappeared and was saying we should all return at the start of work the next week, especially me since I had left on unjustified grounds. It was like she had just told me she was going to kill my puppy and I immediately started devising a way to not go when I was supposed to. I eventually called her Tuesday afternoon telling her that I couldn’t come back because the coming weekend was my grandfather’s 80th birthday and if I missed it, my mother would never forgive me (this wasn’t completely false, except it wasn’t my own grandfather, but a friend’s.) My team head was noncommittal in her response but basically I could stay. I was overjoyed and went back to having fun until Wednesday (29th – the day i was to start work again) evening when I got a text from my bank saying I had been expected at work that day and if I didn’t appear the day after, I would be fired. I was stumped but knew there was no way I could make it back for the next day as they wanted so I just dealt with my panic and didn’t even think about it. I made the most of the last days with family and friends and finally left for Abuja on Monday, Jan 3rd. I went to work the next day to find out that 2 corps members had been fired and we were all to go see human resources the next day (all youth corps members working with the bank evidently absconded for the holidays :D). The meeting was just the HR man telling us off for what we did, using me as a scapegoat, calling me out on travelling, brandishing my posting letter and saying I left without permission. At this point, I kinda figured I wasn’t getting fired so everything else mattered little, let him talk. So he talked and then we left to start the New Year.

I love my co-workers. The branch I am working in is so relaxed and everyone treats each other like friends and family. I hated the branch at first because it is old and relatively not cute but the people make up for it so much.  I have made friends with all the corps members there as well as most of the permanent staff and I even like my immediate bosses. Events occurring there made me BB once that Naija men like women too much! From the co-workers, to the bosses, to the customers that come in and are always trying to get the digits (even the married ones – ps do marriage vows go for anything for these people, – but that’s an article for another day), it makes me smh for them all. All around though, I am loving my time at the work and since I only have to deal with NYSC once a week or when else I choose to (I refused to do the INEC stuff because that would be inviting more headache and bullshit into my life and it isn’t worth it for whatever money they are planning to pay), things aren’t too bad.

This past week, I was called to the head office and informed that I was being transferred there to work directly with the regional manager. This is a good thing, but I have also been informed that the worst womanizers are in this place so I am going in with prayersJ. I start tomorrow and we will see how things go. Overall though, I only get exasperated like 40% of the time now so its progress from the almost 90% of the time before.

To Be Continued…

image source: http://nigeriaworld.com/feature/publication/sanda/112509.html

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Early Monday morning, after a weekend resting and trying to wash away the grimes of camp, I was back in my khakis and out and about again. I had my posting letter in hand and wanting to make a good first impression at my PPP (Place of Primary Posting), I was there as early as 8am. I entered and talked to the security guards who asked to see my posting letter before even allowing me to proceed. I took my letter to the receptionist, who already knew what I was there for before I even got to her, thanks to the khakis :D she just flung her hand somewhere behind me and told me to go and sit there. There were already two other people there and we just sat there, waiting. More youth corps members joined us as time went on and we all just waited. More people trickled in as time went on till we were about 14 coppers there. I was getting annoyed but what could I do, I was at their mercy. Finally, around 11am, a lady came down and took all out names and our posting letters and went away with them. We then went back to waiting. She came back about an hour later and called some of us to the side and said the organization could not take us because our majors do not correspond and they wouldn’t know where to place us. So after all that wait, we were given rejection letters. I was actually not as vexed about being rejected as I was about being made to wait that long to get it.
We had been instructed while in camp that immediately we got our rejection letters, we were to go to our zonal office and submit it so the next step could be taken. So imagine my surprise when all the other people who had been rejected hailed cabs, got into them and said they were going home, to sort out their posting after the Sallah holiday. Me, being the dumb goody-two-shoes that I am, decided to follow instructions and went to the office. The first one I went to wasn’t even open at all. Again I didn’t learn my lesson and went to yet another one. This one was hard to find but at least it was open. I gave the guy in charge (Mr. M) my rejection letter, which he stamped and kept in his file. He told me to come to the camp in kubwa on Thursday (the Tuesday and Wednesday were Sallah holiday and so next working day was Thursday) I asked him for my rejection letter but he said not to worry, that he needed it to work out my new PPP for me. Finally, around 2pm, hungry, thirsty and cranky, I went home. I chilled and relaxed the next two days and once again, bright and early on Thursday morning, I was back in the dreadful khaki and off to Kubwa camp to go sort myself out.
I called Mr. M as soon as I entered the camp, explaining to him who I was and how he told me to come to kubwa to get my new posting letter. He responded that he doesn’t remember me and he doesn’t recollect taking my rejection letter and that I would need to come back to the zonal office the next Monday to come collect the new posting letter as he wasn’t on camp right then. I saw red! I had just spent N2000 to take a cab to the stupid camp on bad roads and an empty stomach, trying to get there on time, for him to tell me that nonsense? I wasn’t having it! But I didn’t know what next to do. While I was standing there contemplating, I ran into a girl from my camp in Kaduna and after exchanging pleasantries, I told her what was going on, only for her to laugh and tell me Mr. M was right on camp and exactly where he was. I thanked her and went to where she said he was. The place was so congested, and I couldn’t even get close to the entrance. While I was still waiting, he came out and started calling some people’s numbers and giving them their posting letters. Since I couldn’t get close to him, I resorted to calling him. He picked up and when I told him who it was again, he was about to start saying he wasn’t around again till I waved to him and he saw my face. Then he couldn’t say it anymore, but he said he was busy and couldn’t attend to me and hung up. I was so steamed but was also standing in the sun, encompassed by too many people and I started feeling faint. NYSC wasn’t that serious so I went to sit down in a shade and got something to drink. While sitting, I called Mr. M every fifteen (15) minutes interval and basically bothered his life with my request for either my new posting letter or my rejection letter he took away from me. At first he was annoyed but as time went on and I kept calling him, he decided he was sick of me and he needed to get rid of me. So the last time I called him, he said give him some few minutes. He said “the printer is hot so we turned it off, I will sort you out as soon as we can turn it back on”. It astounded me that for the amount of people waiting to get letters, they were only using one printer but who am I to question the logic. I nodded and waited and FINALLY, about 30 minutes later, he brings out my new posting letter and gives it to me. I say thank you and being so sick of being there, I practically run out of the place, get back in my cab and go back to town. I went to my new PPP and turned in my posting letter. The new place also didn’t take my posting letter. They made a photocopy of it and told me to go home, that they would call me with their response. All I could think of was “what happened to a youth copper was always accepted and welcome wherever they wanted to work?” But I was too drained after the day and I just got back into the taxi and went home and went straight to bed. I had spent about 7 hours and N5000 sorting all that mess out and I was tired and even more frustrated but I was just glad to have done all that and gotten it out of the way. Now all I had to do was wait for them to call me and either accept or reject me.
While waiting, I spent my time hanging out with friends I made in camp. Most of us were back in Abuja (some had travelled to Lagos or wherever their families were for some after-camp TLC) and were glad to be able to see each other outside of the camp environment and the white-over-white. Everybody was looking much better now that we were out of camp (wow, camp had all of us looking wretched, seriously!!!) and we even had some of our Kaduna friends who came over to visit from time to time (it’s only a two hour journey). I finally had people I could get to know Abuja with so we went out as much as we could, going to Silverbird Cinemas (that’s the only place that I found a relatively ok bookstore – I miss Barnes & Nobles :(( – so far). Unfortunately, Abuja doesn’t have a lot of places to go to and hang out so most people are always at the same place at the same time. (so for people who know Abuja well, please I need ideas on what to do for fun in this place, post them as comments please :D thanks) I sat at home for over 2 weeks until November 29th when my new PPP finally called me and told me to come the next day. I didn’t know what to expect but back into my faithful khakis and off to the place. I got there and they gave me papers to sign and a list of things to turn in and I was told to report to one of their branches to start work the next day (December 1st.) Finally, I had been sorted out and finally had a place to work! Thank God for that because so many of my other friends and people were not even accepted yet and so many of us were still not having PPPs so I was just glad to be finally settled.
First day at work was just another lesson in Naija making me laugh with incredulity everyday …
To be continued…
PS – the first place I was posted to and rejected was Central Bank of Nigeria. It was cool though because my friend who did stay there and is working there is miserable so am glad to have been spared that, hope she starts liking it there too soon tho, Shout out to you W ;)
PPS – a merry xmas and happy new year too all jaguda readers! Wish u a blessed and fun filled holiday!

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Week 3
At the 5am parade, before we began marching, we were informed that because Sallah is next week Tuesday (Nov 16th) and we would need good amount of time to go to our places of posting and present ourselves, we would be passing out Friday the 12th instead of the previously stated 15th. Everybody was shouting and jumping excitedly but I found I couldn’t really do so because as glad as I was to be going home, I was equally sad about all these people who I would be separating from after that day and who would be flung all around the place in 2 different states. All thoughts were wiped away from my head though because that day, we had to do our Man-O-War ropes and obstacle course and that had me nervous. Also they told us that the next day would have to be our endurance trek and the day after, our campfire night, so that the important stuff would still get done, before we leave. After the announcement, my platoon marched out to the Man-O-War ropes and we got started after a demonstration from one of the Man-O-War people of course. The ropes are high up and while I have done high ropes before, I have always been harnessed and being belayed by someone. These ones, you are on your own and if you fall, you break something plain and simple (in their defense though, only one person out of the about 2,000 who did it actually fell and it was because she got scared and didn’t follow instructions). I was still excited no matter the nerves though and when it was my turn, I went pretty well through it. I only had issues with one of them, but it was the hardest one, 2 single ropes, one you hold on to, and the other you slide your feet on. It sucked because it felt like it was tickling your feet and that’s not the sensation you want when you are that high in the air. It went well overall. I had to go run 100m for my platoon that afternoon (something I signed up for because nobody else would – sigh for platoon 2 issues again). We got 3rd place overall so not so bad! Rest of the day was chill, with everyone planning for the endurance trek the next day.

Tuesday, we had to be up for breakfast at 4am. That was when I was getting up so I just chewed some bread my aunty had brought the Sunday before. We got to the parade ground at 5am where we were given instructions on how to handle fatigue and also advised that if we felt we wouldn’t make it, we shouldn’t go. I had been given the same advice by my aunty before I left Abuja but even then, I knew I would go on it! I couldn’t miss that experience, even if I ended up passing out midway, at least I would have started. We finally went on our way around 7am and it was honestly a lot of fun. We didn’t know what to expect or how long we would be walking for but we kept each others’ spirits up and just kept moving. The walk wasn’t bad at all. Within an hour, we were seeing the mountain we would climb in our sights. We were all surprised that it had been that fast! (We had been told it was going to be a 3 hour trek to go and another 3 to come back. We would wade through a river that would almost swallow us up and so on). We were at our destination in less than 1.5 hrs. We climbed the mountain quickly only to find a party up top. There were food vendors from our mami market there, music from speakers as well as the NYSC band up there and all the commandants and Man-O-War people ready to take pictures. It was like going to a carnival! We stayed on top of the mountain for about 2 hours just eating, drinking, dancing, taking pictures and generally having fun. Then it was time to get off the mountain. That sucked! You were sliding off the mountain and felt like you would fall and break your neck! Then we took a longer route to return to camp. After all the partying up top, we were exhausted and we were taking a longer route was just punishment. This time, it took us about 2 hours to get back there and the pace I set for myself (ask me who sent me work ooo) caused my thighs to hurt for a week after. By the time we got back to camp, everyone just wanted to sleep. Sadly, some fake coppers were caught! They were 7 women and 2 men in total. It got me thinking, the experience I was thinking was so hard, some people were faking as if they were a part of. I couldn’t imagine what would cause that but I stayed away from them because I felt so bad for them, seeing how people were gawking at them and such. I just spent the day resting after that.

Wednesday was campfire night. There was very light parade practice but while that was going on, the food for campfire night was being divided. The food was not close to being enough for what we would need to feed the platoon or participate in the competition so we had to disperse 3 platoon members to go to the market and get stuff. Everything was bought for us to make jollof rice for the platoon and to make pounded yam and white soup (fantastic Ibo soup, Nsala I think it’s called) for the competition (each platoon had to cook a meal that would be entered in for a competition for best dish – I personally think it was a clever way for the camp officials to get the best food to eat that night, seeing as they were the judges.) The cooking took the whole afternoon from about noon till the deadline at 6pm. After that, we went and washed all the food smells off and changed into relatively nice outfits (still jeans and a nice top). Then we went to the square, where each platoon sat with their members and the campfire started. It was so beautiful with singing and dancing and a humongous fire (that still wasn’t completely dead at 6:00 the next morning.) People got to hang out and basically party for a while. Even after the main event was done and the officials had left, coppers hung out with friends chilling, because everyone was too hyped to go to bed. A few lucky people who had their cars there brought it close to the area and music was blasting so there was dancing and stuff going on too. Finally, around 1am, the soldiers came to kick us all to bed. We reluctantly left and went off to bed. The next morning, we were awoken at 6am instead of the normal 5am (bless them for that extra hour because I definitely needed it). The day was all about parade prep for the passing out parade the next day. We practiced early in the morning, then at 10am again. After that, we were released to go get our khaki and vested shirts washed and ironed for the next day. Also we were instructed to go collect our final allowance (N9775 per month – we got the first of it right there on camp) before we left the next day. That day, being the last day, was just used to hang out and bond before we left. The night was even more of that, with everyone in the club drinking, dancing n celebrating all over. There was no lights out that night and friends and couples everywhere were sharing last momentsJ.

Next morning, my bunkmate woke me up at 3am to get ready because we had to go return our mattresses to the warehouse before we could be cleared to leave. I hadn’t finished packing even by then so I had to also finish that. We finally got the mattresses to them around like 5am and I was just still so tired I wanted to sleep but nothing to sleep on. So I went and sat in front of the clinic (only place with any available chairs at this point) till about 8:30am when I finally felt hungry and went to mami for breakfast for the last timeL. After this, I took a walk through the camp and couldn’t help but smile at how empty it was looking with everything packed up, so different from that first day! We finally went for parade around 9am and it went well. After the parade, as we were getting ready to go collect our posting letters, we were told that FCT students had to go to the camp in kubwa (Abuja) to go get our posting letters. This messed everyone’s plans up and got us all running around trying to plan how to get there. We were all upset at not having been informed of this beforehand so we could have planned accordingly. But in the midst of all that, I started searching for my KD friends to see where they had been posted to. There were the good – people posted exactly where they wanted, the bad – people posted where they didn’t want, but still in a good location or not far from town, and the downright messed up – people posted hours away from everything, in villages deep, where no English was spoken, and all of them had no choice but to get going. That gave me pause to think about these people. They were about to go to places unknown, where they knew nobody and didn’t know what to expect there and they didn’t exactly have a choice about it. That was real uprooting. It gave me cause to seriously thank God that at least I was going back to my uncle’s house to rest before I even had to do anything else. Right at that moment too, I started saying a little prayer for each of them, that they find their places favorable and God-prepared just for them. After saying bye to my KD friends and watching them board buses to their respective work sites or local governments, I finally decided to figure out how I was getting to Abuja that day (I wasn’t supposed to go back to Abuja till the week after, wanted to spend Sallah in KD with family friends). I had figured I would go to the friend’s house, take a long shower, eat, and use a proper bathroom and go to sleep for a long time. Now my plans had been messed up and I wasn’t happy. I finally found a friend to ride with and we went to Kubwa, where we spent another 2 hours trying to get our posting and our CD days and sites (community development, you have to do it once a week). We finally left Kubwa and I caught a cab home. Getting home, I went straight to the shower (really did take an hour shower, scrubbing as hard as I could), finished that, and ate a light dinner and immediately got into bed. I went to sleep at 8pm and didn’t wake up until 10am the next day. I was just so glad to be home and done with the stress. I should have known better, that more stress was to come. I was after all dealing with NYSC and I am stuck with them for the next year.

Where am I posted to? What more stress could there be huh? Well…
To be continued…

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Week 2
I lost my voice by Saturday and still presented a play with that. I also had a play to present the Sunday afterwards. It was at church … well NCCF (National Christain Coppers Fellowship). It was the church on camp that was nondenominational church on camp and so the one I went to. I had gone to some fellowships the evenings after camp activities was over and I had naturally gotten into the drama group there (it is my forte remember). I got a small part but it was more than enough since I had no voice anyway. That went well and Sunday was great. There is no 5am bugle call, no camp activity, and it is the day when you can wear anything most of the day without getting into trouble. I didn’t pack much to camp so I was limited to jeans and an ok top. I also got a visit from my uncle who is in the army and is based in KD. I haven’t seen him in about 10 yrs because he was always on assignment somewhere. It was nice catching up. That evening too, we practiced volleyball (we would have a tournament n play another platoon). Afterwards, we chilled and ended up going to the club and hanging there, dancing and just releasing stress. Back to bed at 10:30 though because we knew we were back to work at 5am the next day. Monday marked exactly 1 week we had been there and by now, we were used to the place. We weren’t scared of the soldiers anymore. In fact, by now, you already knew a few of them and made friends with them. We played our volleyball game that Monday and we won, moving on to the next game. The next day, our boys played football and won also. Then we had our dance competition that Wednesday. I danced. We couldn’t figure out what dance to do and we were told we couldn’t mix cultures so since we had more Yoruba people and Yoruba songs in the group, we decided to do that. It was great and shout outs to the boys who represented and did a mad Yoruba dance (even though only 1 of the 4 guys was actually YorubaJ). Our platoon got second place overall in the dance competition, which felt good. The week kinda went by in a blur after that.

By now I was well adjusted to the camp and how things worked. I actually didn’t mind the schedule anymore. The hardest part of the morning was getting up out of bed. After that, I was pretty good to go! The bugle sounded at 5am, by 5:30, we start with singing praise songs for like 15 mins and then prayers, one Christian and one Muslim. Then we sing the national anthem and the NYSC anthem (It was short and boring but it had to be sung). It went thus:

Youth Obey the Clarion Call
Let us lift our nation high
Under the Sun or in the rain
With dedication and selflessness
Nigeria’s ours, Nigeria we serve

After this, we would listen to the camp commandant talk to us about whatever was going on or whatever announcements needed to be relayed. After this, each platoon would have a quick meeting with their camp heads (civilian leader) who would also talk platoon business. After this, the platoon commander (the military leader) would get us lined up and depending on the day, we either would do drills right there on the parade ground, go out and walk/jog about a mile before coming back to parade ground where we would stretch. We also had mornings where we would do environmental sanitation and mellow out. After this was showers and breakfast. We got 1.5hrs for that. Then it was time for lectures, usually from 9am till noon or 1pm. It was supposed to take place in the multipurpose hall but the place was so small that there were more people under the trees or around the place than actually inside the hall. By second week, people started bringing clothes which they would lay under the tree and go to sleep during lecture time. I was only able to get a seat in the hall twice in all the times I was there. It was fun outside anyway but we didn’t really get the information being passed. After lectures, you had till 4pm for lunch, siesta, any washing or else anything you had to do. At 4, we went back to the parade ground and started matching again. Evening PT was from 4pm till 5:30 and then you were released for dinner, fellowship or anything else till 8pm when evening social would start. First it was the platoon dances and plays then there were different pageants (Miss Ebony, Miss NYSC, Miss Big, Bold, and Beautiful, Mr Macho). After that, there were things like Camp Idol and Jeans night which was a variety night with different talents showcased among the coppers. After socials, you get to do whatever till 10:30 when the bugle is blown for bedtime. After that, you should not be seen outside. The second week again, about 12 FCT students got into trouble for sniffing coke. At this point, I stopped caring what people wanted to say about FCT students, if anyone was still stupid to group all of us based on the decisions of a few, they could go on ahead with their nonsense! The next day, we got a lecture about drug abuse and I could only smile at the coincidence.

It was frustrating being an FCT student there because as if it was not being enough that the KD students were acting out against us; we also got late information from our officials. Added to that, it was useless being in a lot of the lectures because they were specifically for KD students. Then we didn’t get our real ID numbers until the middle of the second week (I.D. numbers that were needed to process our posting). As if all these wasn’t frustrating enough, the soldiers were treating us even worse than the KD students were and it was worse because even when the KD students stopped acting out, the soldiers only intensified their own behavior. Even though we were all in camp together and should be participating in activities together, the officials tried to exclude us from many of the activities (they said we couldn’t participate in the pageants, but had to back off when they realized that most platoons were choosing FCT students as their reps and that we were doing lots for the platoons and they would lose if they alienated us) it still sucked a lot though because opportunities that the people in Abuja were enjoying, we weren’t privy to. But we made the most of it and enjoyed ourselves there though.

There were moments of frustration in the platoon though because there were always a group of people doing everything while the rest of the people wouldn’t do anything and wouldn’t pay their dues but would be the ones to complain the most when anything happened that they didn’t like. That was rather frustrating but it was taken in stride. By the end of this second week, I had lost my voice, gotten the flu, started and stopped sniffling and sneezing and just developed a cough that would last me till I left camp, even though I was on meds. I had had purging days about 3 times in the 2 weeks but I am someone who likes food so I loved experimenting with the different foods and fruits they had there. Lots of sugarcane, watermelons, coconuts, oranges, bananas, jolof rice, fried rice, white rice, vegetable soup, pounded yam, egusi etc. I loved the food in the mami market – as well as the fact that there were more options there – so soon enough, I stopped eating in the cafeteria and just stuck with mami market. There were lots to drink too, but I didn’t drink anything stronger than a Smirnoff the whole time. Also the music was always bumping at the “club” and it was good to go there and just destress. Overall, week 2 was mellow. Things were about to get harried and crazy in week 3 but we didn’t know that yet, we were just looking forward to the last week and getting out of this crazy place!

To be continued…

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Pre Note –
It took me a while to get online and see the second diary post and reactions to it. That’s why I didn’t respond to people’s comments. Please remember that this is my diary and so it won’t adhere to what everyone believes to be right or wrong! It is my belief system and so doesn’t have to please everyone. That being said, you also don’t have to agree with everything I have to say but please let’s all stay polite to each other and display the proper home training I know we all have. Thank you! And I finally chose not to respond to any of the insults in part 2 because in doing so, it might have looked like I was defending myself, which would probably just make the person surer of what they think they know. Since you don’t actually know me, feel free to jump to any asinine conclusions you want toJ. Now to our regularly scheduled blog…

Wow! I am writing now and I just got back from camp yesterday! I don’t even know where to begin! I’ll try to be as comprehensive as possible while not making it too long! So here goes

Week 1
I arrived to camp Monday, Oct 25th and immediately was given a bed which was good because I had 2 bags which I didn’t want to be dragging with me. I also met my bunkmate B immediately and since we were both confused and new, we made friends easily with each other. We dropped our stuff then went to the multipurpose hall where we would register. As we arrived there, we saw sets of seats where we would sit as a line to go forward and register. B was KD and I was FCT and so we had to sit in different places. The line was not too bad and we were sitting down so it wasn’t too bad. The registration process was actually relatively painless and you just got your folder and filled the forms, got your number (FCT students got a temporary number b/c registration had to be finished in FCT before we could get out actual numbers). After registration was over, we had our forms, our meal card and our platoon number in hand (there were 10 platoons overall and I was in platoon 2) and then just get your kits, which comprised of 2 shirts, 2 shorts, 2 socks, 1 tennis shoes – all these are white colored, 1 jungle boots (the horrid orange ones), and your khaki trouser and jacket. Then you went to your hostel, changed into the white over white and start matching. As for me, I didn’t change at all on the first day. After getting my kits, I just dropped everything in my hostel and went around checking the place out. Our camp was pretty large. There was a larger girl’s hostel than boys and the parade ground was enormous. Mami market was ridiculous! They had everything from food, to tailors, book sellers, hairdressers, suya joints, cloth sellers, shoes, convenience stores, laundry, a mini club, alcohol, and we also had to pay to charge our phones so many were there too. First day was fantastic until I needed to use the restroom. When I saw what I had to work with, I changed my mind and held on for 3 days before I went back there. After that, I made sure I went back only when absolutely necessary.
Second day came and we started practicing for our swearing in parade! We were posted in the sun for about 5 hours, during the times when the sun was highest in the sky. It was ridiculous and it was probably the hardest day for me throughout all of camp because it was nerve wrecking and I knew nobody in my platoon so I just stood there and suffered in the sun. Also had been awoken since 2am by overeager ladies who didn’t understand the concept of not needing 3 hrs to get ready for the day! Also, we would be yelled at and threatened with big sticks by soldiers for things we didn’t even know we were doing wrong. We also got into trouble for breaking rules we didn’t even know existed. For example, my bunkmate B and I (with another girl J) got into trouble for wearing flip flops to mami market during one of our break times but we didn’t know we had to wear our white shoes all the time! (We also didn’t get a rule book till Thursday after we arrived). On the third day, we were sworn in, with the deputy governor of Kaduna in attendance. Thursday, we had to go turn in all our registration documents in, as well as make copies of different documents including our diplomas, passports and transcripts. We also had our welcome to camp social that evening. The event ended around 10:30 and they told everyone to go sleep after that but people were hyped up and didn’t want to comply. Also they found about 7 students who were at the club, mostly wasted and when approached and yelled at, one of them slapped the soldier. Thus we got out first fire alarm/night lecture!
It was not at all funny. We had just gone to bed less than an hour, when at midnight, they blew the bugle telling us to go to the parade ground! We all thought it was a joke but quickly realized it wasn’t when we had soldiers barging into our hostels and yelling at us to go to the parade ground as is! We got there only to receive a lecture from the camp commandant on how to be good and respectable people who respect those in charge of us. The culprits were brought up for all to see and they were all FCT students (thus started the FCT vs. KD issue in our camp!) The camp commandant droned on for another hour, most of which I spent trying not to fall asleep where I was sitting on the ground. After it was over, we trudged back to our hostel and I just crawled into bed, only for 3 hours sleep and then back to the day. The next day was pretty mellow, with our platoon practicing the play we were going to put on for the camp. It was a competition between platoons and this was my forte so I was there for that one. It was a play about the FCT vs. KD drama and it tried to give a resolution to the whole issue (PS – the FCT vs. KD drama was that KD students thought all the FCT students were acting spoiled and forming big too much and figured we should suck it up and stop acting as if we were too big to be there. Our argument was that we weren’t used to the way things were here, things could be done better n its frustrating to know that and still not be able to do anything about it, and we needed a little time to adjust to the way things were and they should stop acting as if all of us were forming or complaining. As time went on, FCT students were even better than KD students at participating and getting stuff done so there!) The play was really nice and would be presented the next day. That night I also only had 3 hrs sleep (that’s 6 hrs sleep in 48 hrs) because we had to wake up the next morning at 2am to go and wash the beans for akara or bean cake (each platoon had to cook one day and it was our turn). For lunch we made tuwo – my first time tasting it – and okra soup and for dinner, it was jollof rice and fried fish. Our meal was delicious but we were exhausted by the end of the evening. I helped cook breakfast and lunch but had to go practice after that for the play which would be presented at that evening’s social. The competition socials consisted of 2 platoons dancing traditional dances and 2 platoons presenting a play. Unfortunately, by the time of the play I had lost my voice and we couldn’t use a mike. Overall though, the play went well and the audience loved it but we didn’t win first place :( . The good part was that by now, I had already made great friends in the platoon who would continue with me throughout the rest of camp and who I am missing even now, 2 days back from camp!
To be continued…

Photo Credit:http://www.punchng.com/images/August/Tuesday/pix2008081216556.jpg

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Weeks 2-4
Nothing big really happened during these weeks, I just did a lot of resting and hanging out and checking a few sights in Abuja. From there I went to visit some family friends in Kaduna for a week. Thanks to the time I had doing nothing, I made some more observations. For example, my aunty and uncle were flabbergasted that I knew how to cook or do chores simply because I was from the US. My cousin, after the first week told me she thought I would be spoiled rotten and wouldn’t know how to do anything. There is this belief that we just sit back over here and have things done for us. And while it’s true that I don’t do much cooking and cleaning, it’s not for lack of knowledge of doing them, it is for lack of desire and having someone else to do it. They also didn’t expect me to be able to speak the language and it is so bad that every time I say something or do something, my uncle calls my mom to tell her she did a good job, which gets quite embarrassing.
I have heard from so many people both in the U.S. and in Nigeria that I am going home to find a husband. At first it was funny but now it is just annoying. First off anyone who knows me knows I cannot marry a Nigerian man in Nigeria because I don’t even believe they are progressively thinking enough to be able to build a life with me the way I know how – no offense. There is also the fact that I already have a man in the US (who is also scared that I will meet someone while here and leave him) and even if all that was not enough, I know I am only here for a year so why would I start something that I know I would have to leave in a year, not happening! Also I am not even thinking about marriage right now, with all the stuff on my plate, that’s the last thing on my mind!
However, something that I didn’t factor in and is causing a bit of issue for me is the problem of culture and the changes that have come over me from being in the US for so long. Trying to remember and acculturate back to what is acceptable behavior from a “respectable” naija girl! Things including the proper way to greet (should I kneel as is acceptable or hug as I am used to), the proper way to address people (aunty and uncle or by name since they are relatively close to my age), the proper way to dress (evidently – especially in the north – some dresses or shorts make you look like a loose girl, things I would normally wear without a second thought in the US). After stressing about it for a while, I have just concluded that I will be who I am generally (who isn’t half bad) and whoever has a problem with that can deal with it on their own! So far so good but I am sure I will still have to face the issue sometime in the future! Ah well, till then…
Week 5
Been here over a month and I am able to drive and I know a few places now. My ability to drive depends on concluding that everyone else on the road is an idiot who doesn’t know what they are doing and factoring that into my driving (this is defensive driving at its best). Went to the NYSC office to pick up my call up letter and I got posted to Abuja. But they said that Abuja camps are full so I will be going to camp in Kaduna. We were informed of this when we went to pick up our letters, with no former allusion to this happening. But we don’t have a choice about it, we all have to pack our stuff and go to Kaduna whether you know the place or not! The journey is starting and I am excited and nervous about it. Camp starts on the 25th! Will try to update in about it in a week, but it depends on how internet capable I am, might not update until after camp is over in 3 weeks, but definitely look forward to the adventures of the Yankee copper trying to figure out Nigeria anew. Here’s to surviving Kaduna~

image source: http://nairabrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/NYSC.jpeg

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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.