My first day outside Yikpata camp in Kwara state as I recall it now was not so much to be happy about. I recall not wanting to do anything asides from update myself on what had been going on in the world on the web (there had been no internet service in camp)... I didn't pay attention to what I was meant to and I paid dearly for it days later. Initially I was posted to Ilorin East Local Government, which was the "dream" of many "otondos" while we were in camp. I was posted to the Kwara State Polytechnic, and I was glad for it, thinking all I had to do was just report and I'd get accepted, carry on with my clearance and move back home to my family.
I really should have paid much more attention to the series of leactures in camp! Getting to the place of primary assignment was an arduous task on its own, on getting there, I and the other corp members posted there (we were about 60) were asked to provide our statement of results and photocopies of our posting letters. Thank God I went prepared, most of the others had to go back home to get theirs. Even when I thought I had crossed that hurdle, I wasn't prepared in any way for what came next. As a graduate of History and Strategic Studies, I was eventually told the day after I reported to my place of primary assignment that my "services" were not needed at the Polytechnic, and as such I was "rejected". I felt so sad, one would have thought I went for an actual job interview and was turned down. At that point I didn't know what to do. A good number of the corp members I spoke to told me not to apply for a reposting, telling me that if I did that I would be posted to another local government (LG) far from the main city in Kwara (ilorin). In fact, there were three Local Government(s) that were dreaded by most corp members. Applying for reposting meant risking being posted to either Baruteen, Bacita, or Patigi. These places were miles away from Ilorin. Baruteen shares borders with Cotonou to be clear, and its said that most of the people there don't understand English. The other LG's were just "no go" areas. It now came to the point where I and other corp members like me who were rejected had to start "hunting" for "jobs" like we weren't corp members. Plus, the new posting policy made it difficult to get a place to serve (Batch A corp members in Kwara really got a feel of the "new" policy". Every corp member was required to serve at a school! Regardless of what you studied! Only Doctors and Nurses were exempted, as well as Engineers. Even Lawyers were posted to schools!
Well, as I was saying, it was hard getting a place to serve. Eventually, I grew weary and tired of spending my first allowee looking for a place to serve, so as advised by my Corp Liason Officer (CLO), I applied for reposting, and I traveled home. Barely four days after I submitted my letter I was told to come for my new posting letter! Happy, and thinking I had probably been posted to a better establishment, I walked into the Ilorin East secretariat to collect my letter, hoping to report to this new place that same day, and subsequently "settle down". I collected my letter, and first thing I saw was in the section for Local government area I saw "Asa" LG. I was somewhat consoled when I saw "Ilorin zone" under the address, and I thought, maybe its not so far from Ilorin. The name of the school I was posted to was GDSS ABOTO OJA (Government Day Secondary School). I asked my CLO for directions to the place, he said he had no idea. I asked the local government officials, most of whom were pointing in every direction, not really being helpful. It was at that point I started to get scared. Aboto Oja? Even the people who were supposed to know where that was didn't. Most of them only knew that the Asa Local Government secretariat was at a place called Afon, which wasn't so helpful to me at the time because I had to report at my place of primary assignment (PPA) first.
I eventually got a cab from my former Local government, to start my journey to my new Local government. When I asked the cab driver where Aboto Oja was, he told me I'd have to go to a place called "Ile film" and then board a bus to my destination. He was even magnanimous enough to drive me down to the place since I was wearing my 7 over 7 and it was obvious I was a corp member that didn't really know her way around town. Yes I did get a bus to Aboto Oja, when I heard it cost 300n, I thought, oh, it might not be that far from Ilorin, so I hopped in. The bus finally got filled up at approximately 10am, I would never forget the time that day. We kept going and going and going, the journey seemed unending. I even began to cry in the bus because at a point during the journey network signal on all my lines (airtel and MTN) disappeared totally! I began to ask the driver when it was almost 12pm and we still hadn't gotten there if he was sure we hadn't passed Aboto. He assured me that we weren't there yet. Finally, around 1pm we reached our destination. I was already frustrated. The village was the last thing on my mind by that time, all I wanted was to go back and lie to my Local Inspector that I didn't meet anybody at the school and ask to be reposted somewhere else! Gosh! The place was far! Far from "civilization"!.
Anyways, I eventually had to go there a second time, my plan to lie and ask for a reposting backfired. Sadly, I got a personally hand written note from the State Coordinator of NYSC in Kwara State to go back and report in my place of primary assignment. I still dislike the woman till today though for sending me to "hell". Aboto is indeed hell for any corp member. The people here believe that being a corp member, you receive State, Local and Federal Government allowances and so you are "loaded". They would always increase the price of anything you want to buy! So most of us always have to "travel" to Ilorin to get most basic things we need. By the way, I only receive the token paid by the Federal government, as my school pays me nothing, there is no state allowance here either. Aboto is not what you'd call a "home away from home" even for people from the same ethnic group as the ones who live here (yorubas mostly). There are more mosques than churches (there is actually only one church), I personally haven't been to church since I moved here from Ilorin in May this year. And in this place, there are no toilets! I mean majority of the houses in this village weren't built with toilets! One always has to shot put whenever you really have to go. The people here live in a world of their own! It was quite difficult for me to adjust initially because I felt I wasn't supposed to be here. However, as time went on, I began to value the serenity of "village life" and even though there's really nothing "fresh" to eat here, the cost of living here is quite cheap when compared to the cost of living in Ilorin.
I would want to point out my reasons for recounting my experience fresh out of camp. It is important for corp members to listen and pay attention to the instructions regarding posting while in camp, because believe me, that is the only place you'd ever hear it spelt out clearly. To avoid being tossed around like a frisbee, and depleting the little resources you have on "searching" for a place to serve, be sure to have all your documents you need at hand. Your posting letter, your I.d card, your statement of result (this varies from place to place). You must make sure you have photocopies of these when you are going to report at your place of primary assignment. Also, try if you can to report to your PPA on the day you leave camp. It might sound strenous, but believe me, in most places, its a case of "first come first serve". It would also save you the trouble of looking for a place to sleep, because accomodation is also a problem every new corp member has to graple with. When leaving camp, always move with the buses that are sent from the Local Government you were posted to. You can not do things successfully on your own when it comes to posting(s) and reporting.
Wherever you find yourself as a corp member it is important to try to adapt to your new
environment. If you start your service year hating where you were posted, you would hate it until you leave, and you would miss out on the fun of being a corp member; this I am saying from experience so far.
[Editor's Note: The Federal Government currently pays NYSC members less than $130/month. It's a mandatory service and from this pittance being paid out in wages, recent graduates are supposed to not only feed themselves but in a lot of instances pay for their own accommodation as well.]
2012 9JEducation.org work-study