By Abdulaziz M Salisu
I had looked forward to National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme after my graduation from Faculty of Communication of Bayero University Kano. It was on Monday November 21, 2016, when I received the thrilled news that Call-up letters of prospective members of NYSC, had been released online.
Rather than accessing my call-up letter through my phone, I opted to check at the business centre. Like a Day-of-Judgement, many prospective corps members were in the business centre. Some of those that have retrieved and printed their letters either looked very sad, or excited.
Majority of them were not deployed to states of their first choice. I had actually chosen Rivers and Osun States as my first and second ‘choices’ during registration few months early. I had dreamt of going to a far distance where I could learn new language, culture in a completely new environment. Corps members are expected to intermingle, interact, associate as well as understand the social and cultural background of their respective places of primary assignments. Before I sat to access my posting at the Internet Cafe, I was shivering and sweating like jelly fish.
As I was about to log-in into the NYSC portal, I prayed harder. Behold I was deployed to a city I knew, the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. I could not influence a redeployment because I am neither married nor have major health problems as major requirements for such a request. Meanwhile, I was so shocked that some of my mates were congratulating me on the Abuja posting as if I have won a jackpot. They described my redeployment to Abuja as “Golden opportunity.” Now, after all my years of staying in the North, I felt bitter going to NYSC Camp in North-Central city of Abuja for the Orientation programme.
At the camp, we got a ‘hostile’ welcome by ’AJUWAYA’ military men who were shouting and commanding us as if we were in the barrack. The camp is a regimented experience, some ‘Ajebota’ over-pampered graduates, who look robust and some as yellow as riped orange, shed weight and changed colour within a week through the rigorous exercises in the camp.
Corps members are united and related freely with one another devoid of ethnic, religious or ethnic sentiments. We gave ourselves different names based on our activities and commitments in Camp. I was nicknamed ‘waka-waka’ because of my go-about and restlessness. Every night before light out, which was normally 10:00pm, we cracked jokes, mocked ourselves and yet discussed serious national issues about the economy, politics and socio-cultural development towards making Nigeria great.
As fearful as the military guys were we did crack jokes with them, especially after hectic parade exercises akin to severe punishments. Some of the jokes sound against the soldiers include this song: “If Corper marries Soldier then go born Mumu!; If Corper marries Corper them go born better.”’
Camp life is quite an experience, we mostly wakeup up from bed very early in the morning around 3:00am so that we could bath, dress up and go to the parade ground on time before Soldiers would start blowing trumpets for a ‘Wakeup Call’ and going around with their horsewhip. As a graduate of Mass Communication , I engaged in activities of Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS), as a presenter on a programme called ‘language show.’ I also participated in Kitchen competition because I like good food. Apart from daily parade and drill and the excellent relationship with the camp officials; the decorum, the calmness and brotherly support from the soldiers make the experience worthwhile. I learnt commitment, loyalty, sacrifice, leadership, wisdom, victory, diligence and lots more from three-week experience in Kubwa NYSC Camp in Abuja.
The most interesting experience in the NYSC is the “Mammy Market” a centre of relaxation, amusement and refreshment. It was a centre where even the saint must be tempted. It always bubbled at night: It was also a rendezvous for establishing, cementing relationships between young-men and young women. No one could claim to be born-again in the Mammy-Market because of the full-fun that went on there. As a journalism graduate, there are period for every story. I would rather not disclose my experience in this memorable and loving market because I still remain an innocent graduate and a novice.
On our last day, we were all posted to various places for our primary assignment. I was excited to receive a letter posting me to an organisation where I strongly believe I will experience the practical aspects of the theories we learnt in Mass-Communication on Journalism, Public Relations and Crisis Communication. I was posted to the prestigious Image Merchants Promotion Limited, a PR firm that publishes the PRNigeria, Economic Confidential and Youths Digest magazine. I am glad the agency provided me with accommodation and modest stipend.
Abdulaziz M. Salisu NYSC Member, Wuye District, Abuja firstname.lastname@example.org