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.
Back to being a regular platoon person. Back to going to the parade ground which, to be honest, I am now starting to enjoy. I am supposed to be at OBS by 4 AM for broadcast, but a local man cannot can. I wake up by 4:19 AM and I realise that with this OBS thing, some battles have to be left for the Lord to fight, so I return to my bed until people begin to move about, waking me from my sleep.
Today’s meditation is handled by Platoon three. They speak on loyalty. Nigeria wakes up. Our platoon leader takes roll call. As soon as he calls my name, I sneak out of the parade ground.
It’s my 9th day on this camp. It is the first time I will be on air as a newscaster.
News casting goes well. I was slated for headline review. K. and I reviewed headlines from Punch, The Guardian, The Sun, The Nation. When it’s over, the head of the news department hugs us. She is excited. I go on to grab breakfast.
Breakfast is yam and stew. The yam is like a pestle, something you can hurl at someone if you intend to kill them with one blow. Just throw it and boom, they’re dead and gone. Mine is soft, sha. But K.’s is hard, and even though we fry eggs to go along with it, she ends up throwing hers in the bin, half eaten.
SAED lectures begin, my sleeping pill that never fails. But this lecture is interesting, and it is because we talk about money. Corps members’ allowance, incentives, etc. Now this is an interesting thing that people posted to Borno state should note:
There is the option for automatic redeployment when you are posted to Borno state. But if you choose not to redeploy, you get N10,000 as state allowance; you get posted to the capital, Maiduguri; and you get free accommodation. There’s more, I heard, but it looks like they are unveiling it slowly. Me, I think it’s a ploy to get us to stay back. The incentives are attractive, but I am thinking of the distance, the fact that I’ll probably see my family just once throughout the service year. And maybe all the opportunities I’ll be missing?
Anyway, there is the opportunity of thinking things through. And if I don’t like/want where I relocate to, all I have to do is not make any move within 21 days, and I’ll be relocated to Borno state. There’s still so much I need to learn about this, and I am certainly waiting. Who knows if I will meet the love of my life in Maiduguri, Borno? Who knows?
We are deep into our SAED skill. I belong to food processing (catering, abeg leave big grammar and packaging) and we are learning how to bake cupcakes. And they’re a beauty, aren’t they? Love of my life, if you’re reading this, look at the skill I’m adding to my husband material CV.
An emergency bugle takes us out of our hostels. We are peeved, to say the least, because this bell is not for lunch, and didn’t they tell us that our practicals end by 2 PM? We leave for the pavilion anyway, and find out that a new guest has just arrived and wants to have a word with us.
I am too tired, and half her words fly over my head. I know she is advising us, telling us to believe we can do it, to remember that nowhere in Nigeria is safe, anyway. I realise that it is a ploy to keep us in Borno. It might not be, but right now, everything about Borno seems to me like a narrative to keep us from leaving, and this is what makes everything suspicious.
I mean, I would like to stay if I want to, but choking me with the “positive images” and and other reasons why I should stay looks like there’s something you’re trying to hide. You don’t see Lagos Camp telling corpers why they should stay in Lagos. Yes, I know, Lagos isn’t portrayed the same way Borno is, whenever it comes to security. I doze off, and when they say lunch is ready, I run to queue for the rice and stew.
Every other thing is the same: siesta which makes me a little disoriented when I wake up; the bugle blowing for the parade at four; the parade, at first stressful and then enjoyable; Nigeria going to bed by 6PM; dinner of egusi and eba; OBS meeting.
In between this, I attend fellowship where they play a video of Borno state and let us that Borno is a lovely place to serve. The video is too video-y: people in a mall, playing ludo in a room, eating from a large pot and looking happy, the governor giving out money. I have questions: What about those who don’t want to live in family house? Certainly, they won’t serve in a church for a whole year; where they get posted to as their primary place of assignments, how much do they earn?
The social night is fun, until Platoon three presents a dance that is so confusing, so mismatched, so prolonged and annoying that people stand up and leave while they are still on stage. Guess what? They keep dancing! The light is switched off, but they keep dancing. As per show must go on, but this show already ended before it even started.
Tonight, Platoon 3 will be roasted for dinner. And I’m here for it.