A few months ago we began the NYSC Diaries, which covered inside life stories of NYSC in Nigeria. Stories like things NYSC corps members can relate to or what to do when you’re posted to a faraway place, like Borno.
A new NYSC batch has been called in for camp. So, everyday by 1:30PM for the next 21 days, one of our writers will be sharing his day-to-day camp experiences.
I wake up, look at the time and immediately get super pissed. How can I be waking up at 4:58 a.m on the only NYSC camp day I have the chance to sleep all I want? I know I’m not going to get any more sleep so I just go on Twitter to watch highlights of people arguing “Made In Lagos” vs “A Better Time”. People have time sha.
I wake up again by 8:30 a.m. I don’t even know how I slept, but I’m happy I did. My sister is making food and I join her. Spaghetti stir fry. The food is amazing. I’m eating slowly to savor the moment because I’m sitting here thinking “When next will I eat good food without having to pay through my teeth?”. But how much time can one spend eating?
This is the third time I’m packing my box. I keep getting the feeling that I’m overpacking. I don’t want to get there and look like that guy in JSS1 that brought matching box, bag, toothbrush, singlet, and shampoo, make them no dey laugh me. The third time is the final time though. I’m ready.
I’m sitting in this Uber wondering: Would I rather be in extremely frustrating Lagos traffic, or on free Abuja roads holding my breath and clinging to my seat as all these drivers carelessly swerve in front of us? Abuja people don’t know how to drive. It’s like they are all rushing somewhere, and from what I’ve heard, all Abuja people do is commit adultery and do drugs. Are they all rushing to go and cheat? The Uber driver looks at me. He notices that I’m obviously scared, so he laughs. “I know what you’re thinking”, he’s smiling. “Yes, Abuja people don’t know how to drive.”
I begin to wonder how he can tell that I’m new then I remember all the calls I made talking about how great Abuja roads are compared to Lagos and how I wouldn’t mind living here.
Eyan Sherlock Holmes.
I have arrived at camp and people rushing towards me to sell all sorts of stuff. I hear their prices and I laugh. They don’t know I’m a Lagos boy. It is me that will cheat you. Anyways, I price a bucket from N1500 to N500 and buy it, then I buy a very tiny plastic cup for 250. Good business. We move.
After the policeman at the gate who was frowning as if someone stole his ponmo finished checking my papers, he let me in. And the first thing I notice is that they’re sticking long plastic strips into people’s noses. COVID-19 test. They tell us to join the queue.
We’re all still sitting on one spot. The people doing the tests have gone on a break. An official comes and tells us to keep our stuff safe when we finally get into hostel. “Even if you move with them everyday, don’t leave your phone with them. A word is enough for the wise.”
The guy sitting beside me starts to rant about how humans are still stealing in this day and age. “Can’t people just decide not to steal? Why do we have to watch our stuff every time?”
Someone should help this guy set up a meeting with Nigerian politicians. He definitely has something to tell them.
We’re still here, nothing yet. But the girl sitting beside me just gave me her folder to hold for her as she brought out a shitload of cash to count. I want to be her friend.
They have not come back from their break. I decide to take a stroll to Mami Market and please tell me why l can see a stand full of wigs? Are people coming to NYSC camp thinking “Shit I can’t wait to finally get my bone straight wig from Mami Market?”
Some guy was here for the COVID-19 test yesterday but he couldn’t do it, so they told him to go into the hostels, mix with people, sleep and come back tomorrow. So we’re just whining ourselves here.
Some officials are here. But just to tell us to wear our masks. They leave.
Finally officials are here. I realise I haven’t printed something so I rush to Mami Market to print it. N300 for printing. And that woman can sleep well this night? God.
I’m rushing back and it’s 6pm on the dot. I hear people shouting. I look round. Soldiers are pointing at me and shouting. I start running. Someone shouts “Stop!”. I stop. Then I hear that some tune is playing. Afterwards some
guy tells me that it means Nigeria is going to bed so everyone must stand still. It happens everyday by 6pm.
As I move closer to the soldier who told me to stop, he calls me and warns me never to try that again. But I can tell that he’s friendly. I laugh and leave.
I’ve just done my test. That shit is uncomfortable as hell. I almost cried.
They’ve called everyone who did the test except me. They’re even calling everyone who has done it after me. What’s going on? Do I have COVID?
I try to find out why.
Apparently, they can’t find my test thing. Only me. There’s over two hundred people that have been tested and it’s only my test they can’t find. I have to do the test again. It’s much worse this time.
I must pray well this night before I sleep. I rebuke every spirit of retrogression.
I’ve been given a little piece of paper with a number on it. I must keep that paper until the last day, or I will not be allowed to leave this camp after my 21-day stay here.
Random friend calls me in 2034: Hey David, I haven’t seen you in a while. Where have you been?
Me: I lost the paper. I need to find the paper. Where’s the paper? Help me.
We’re still searching for bed spaces. Some guy who gave me biscuit earlier when I was hungry calls me. He has found a free bed for me. I hurry to go and meet him. He’s definitely an angel at this point.
I’m finally in bed. I’ve arranged my stuff and taken a bath and now I’m ready to sleep. Turns out the guy is my room mate. He puts on his sleeping shirt. It’s an Arsenal jersey. It all makes sense now.
I also realise now, that I underpacked.
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