Everyday by 12pm for the next 21 days, I’ll be telling you what life is like at NYSC Camp. I was posted to Borno State, but the camp holds in Katsina state due to Boko Haram insurgency in Borno. You can read all the stories in the series here.
NYSC camp ends in 5 days.
Today is the inter-platoon drills competition. I wake up feeling a little excited. Days and days of marching, and finally we get to showcase what we have learned. All the right wheel, left wheel, slow march, breaking into quick march. I can’t wait.
But first, I have to go to the parade ground for morning drills and meditation. The competition is by 3pm and so I have to get breakfast, go to the OBS to cast my own segment of the program, and attend SAED lectures and practicals. There’s a whole lot before the competition. But I am not afraid. I know my platoon will win.
Breakfast is yam and stew. It’s a huge disc, but also so soft. I devour it while preparing what to say on air. The program goes in pidgin, and me and my co-host have so much fun on air that I never want to stop speaking pidgin.
I’m still confident about the march past. Very confident. Platoon 2 will win.
In SAED class, we learn about U-Report. I don’t know if you know them, but long before NYSC camp, I used to receive texts from a number, texts referring to me as U-Reporter and asking me to reply so-so to so-so questions. Me I always ignore them sha, because this is Nigeria, Nigeria where all telecommunication companies are thieves by night and network operators by day. You can go and reply a text message now and next thing you know, all your present recharge and subsequent recharges will suffer a deduction. Me I don’t play rough play, abeg.
In this place, I learn about them afresh. I learn that it is a social SMS platform created by the federal government and the UN to address social issues relating to education, health, social amenities, child abuse and the likes. According to the man, you have opportunity to send issues because the system operates based on SMS sent to your phone every week. The SMS is based on questions about health, education, domestic violence, rape, etc. They could send you a text asking if people from your community go for antenatal.
Basically, it is a way to facilitate change and a way to hear the concerns of the grassroots. And then again, it is free. At the end of the lecture, they ask us to text a particular code to join, but me I don’t. I am still paranoid. Tables can turn any time and my poor airtime will suffer for it. I can’t risk that.
In the catering class which is actually called (Food Processing), we sweeten our yoghurt, and then proceed to make spring rolls.
Midway into the class, we all want to leave because parade will soon commence and we are all antsy. We need to get lunch. We need to get our khakis from the dry cleaners. We need to lay edges and slay. Stew must be poured on the parade ground. Pepper must be poured into people’s eyes. And we don’t want to be in any SAED class. Set us free, this woman. Set us free and let us go and march!
And march we do. When we appear on the parade ground, platoon by platoon, we are snatched. Bright coloured sashes on our shoulders to identify the right marker, parade commandant, left marker. It’s hot, but people are wearing make-up, not bothering that it will soon melt like ice cream. Edges have been laid, hair styled and shaped. Even our sub-guard commandant has shaved. Them must to take. We put on gloves. We arrange our white handkerchiefs which will make an appearance when we are leaving the field. I said it, no time to play. We came here to step on throats.
No jewelry, no waist pouch, no wristwatch or anything. Just us in our khakis. The first and second position gets a gold cup, the last gets a long wooden spoon which is a thing of shame.
Shame will not be our portion in Jesus name. We say our prayers. We line up. And then, we move. Platoon 2 for the victory, y’all.
We came in 8th.
If I hear you laugh or anything, I will find you and kill you. And I mean it.
We didn’t come first or second or third, we came in eighth.
Those judges don’t know what is good for them. They don’t, because how could they pass us by?
In our own defence, we were the first to march, and this meant that we were in full view of everyone. So when our platoon member fainted while we were waiting for inspection, everyone saw it. We were not the only one to have a member faint while waiting, though. It’s almost like an inter-platoon competition of fainting. We’d been kept in the sun for too long and so it was inevitable. But we had reserves step in. It all makes sense to keep reserves now.
I know our legs did not align during the left wheel and slow march. But that was all about it. Asides that, I don’t know what else happened. Even our commander (Oga Soldier) said that we did very well. Even beyond his own expectations.
But we came in 8th. Anyway, sha we did not carry last. At least that one is there.
And is it our fault that the judges have bad taste?
Me I will not tell you which platoon came first. If you want to find out, come down to Katsina state and don’t vex me.
There are no social activities tonight. The competition finished late, and so the Camp PRO considered us. E better o, because it’s not me and them that will come and be shaking bumbum after carrying 8th position. Which useless bumbum? Nobody should vex me abeg. Camp is kuku ending.