NYSC Diary Day 4: Camp, The Place Lectures Come Alive

November 9, 2019

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.

5:40 AM

It is Friday, and now, all our activities have started to become routine. Wake up, make a dash to the tap for water, go to the bathroom, dress up, head to the parade ground for devotion and morning drills.But now there is more, and it’s because we have been sworn in.

Now, Nigeria has her own sleeping and waking hours, our dear country whose citizens work tirelessly. We are told that every day, whenever the bugle goes off at 6:00am, we are to stand still. When the same repeats itself at 6:00pm, we are to stop and stand still. I want to ask, “But what if I’m in the middle of dying?”(I will not die in Jesus name *eyeroll*) Orisirisi has started to happen in camp, but I don’t even know it yet.

8:00 AM

One of the orisirisi that is happening is the fact that we have now been left to ourselves. Not in a completely independent way though, we have soldiers who act as our platoon leaders. I am in Platoon two, and you won’t believe all the drama my eyes have seen.

But wait first, let me tell you about one orisirisi: lectures. Yes, being bonafide members means that we will be “killed”with lectures. The first one is something on security and protection of lives and property, how to safeguard yourself from attack, how to help corps members develop adequate sense of security. It is an interesting lecture, if I will be honest, but I really just want to sleep. 

We head to the parade ground for the drills. Now that we do things according to platoons, it is a little more informal, not the kuku kill me drills that will have you questioning if you’re receiving punishments for sins your ancestors committed.

Being left alone means that everything is now a competition. Everything. And every eye is on the lookout for the platoon that will emerge as the best. You know Nigerians na, everyone is now attempting to outdo themselves.

A brief gist about my own platoon: a guy was voted in as the head. A lady wanted it first; she is the one who has been in charge of everything platoon related including creating a WhatsApp group, handing out kits to people, etc. Long and short of it, a lot of us already saw her as platoon head. 

Only for soldier to say that we’d have to select/vote in our leader. When lady came out, soldier said no, that a lady cannot be the head. Because why? Because she is a lady, and ladies are the ones who faint the most since they cannot handle the pressure and heat of the sun.

My people, na so kasala burst o. 

Okay, maybe not exactly sha, but we dragged it for long. Asked soldier if there was a rule stating that a lady cannot be head and must be assistant alone. Soldier said no. Then why can’t we vote her in? No cogent reason. When it was time to vote, our lady had four votes. The guy had over twenty five.

Only ladies faint, only ladies faint, but today during evening drill, about five guys fainted. A number of these guys faked it, but doesn’t that tell you something?

Breakfast was bread and tea (as usual) and a boiled egg. I keep my egg for lunch, and pay N50 to have an egg fried. I add Milo and Peak powder milk to my tea, and each time I sip it, I remember that it is only one life I have and that I must chop it properly. Na Borno dem post me to, no be kill I kill person.

12:45 PM

Another lecture. This is how we don enter am. We gather at the parade ground, under the pavilion. It is hot, cramped. This lecture is one we are delighted to hear. It is about how to redeploy. Just imagine the joy that erupted from us when the man began to speak. In a way, I feel for those officials. I imagine them thinking, “Look at these ingrates. We feed you, accommodate you, and this is how you repay us? Corpses are scum!” But duh. It will take only God to keep some people from not relocating out of this place.

He informs us that being posted to a state is called DEPLOYMENT, and changing that state to another is REDEOLOYMENT. There are two major reasons for re-deployment: Health and Marriage. For health reasons, he mentions that some ailments are manageable, meaning that you’ll probably not get redeployed based on those ailments: headache (and let’s be honest sef, who’d claim headache as a reason for redeployment? Is that headache a Chinese one?); asthma (can’t remember if he mentions this as manageable, sha). The ailments they consider are those in the category of HIV/AIDS (he says and I quote, “Some of you have HIV, but you don’t know it yet.”), Tuberculosis, etc etc. And don’t think about faking it, because their own doctors will test you too.

For marriage, you need to provide a marriage certificate, newspaper publication declaring change of name, handwritten statement (I think), and a photocopy of your husband’s driver’s license or the biodata page of his international passport. Also, he says that men do not get to redeploy on basis of marriage (Eskiss me sah, but what if I am a househusband married to a sugar mummy?)

And then, to the part we have been waiting for the most: redeployment on basis of insecurity. At this, we hoot again, we ungrateful humans. He warns us though: we should not think of working the posting to Lagos or Abuja, because the people at these places say that they already have enough. Even Port Harcourt. We should not think of paying anybody, because we will be redeployed by a person from Abuja who does not know us at all. And we should not think that we can redeploy to our state of origin or the state we schooled in. No way. Also, redeployment means that we automatically get disqualified from carrying out a personal project for whatever state we are redeployed to.

Sad, but then do a lot of people care about anything else except leaving this camp?

Other lectures come in: about the culture of the Borno people, things like marriage, etc. But I zone out some minutes after the speaker says that some people will find love in NYSC camp, that some people will fall in love with officials (which I took to mean soldiers). 

1:43 PM

I head back to the hostel. Muslims are preparing for Jumat which means extra sleep hours for me. In my hostel, the boys are in a heated discussion: Tacha was an Instagram olosho before Big Brother Naija. Look at the stretch marks on her body. The fact that she, an “Instagram olosho”made it to Big Brother Naija is why many ladies are also olosho today. 

Jesus be the shield, abeg. Be the fence, be the covering and the umbrella. Me I cannot handle this type of thing. E big pass me.

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