On Thursday the 7th of July, another batch of National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) members heaved a sigh of relief after receiving a certificate upon successful completion of their youth service at their Passing Out Parade (POP). The POP is a crucial moment for corpers because it’s not just the day they have been eagerly anticipating from the onset, it’s officially the end of Community Development Service (CDS) and perhaps, their jobs. While the twelve-month service might have been a great and interesting experience for some, it was a patchy one for the others. For this week’s episode of Nigerian lives, we reached out to 5 youth corp members to recount their experience while serving.
I went for NYSC camp right after my call to the bar. I was supposed to begin my relocation process but I stayed back at my initial posting state. It was a rural area setting and the toilet situation was unbelievable. At camp, we wore white everyday which I found ridiculous considering there are women on their period. We woke up as early as 2am to fetch water to bathe and slept back before they put the lights on and officially woke us up with loudspeakers at 5am. You have to secure your water under your bunk bed throughout the night or someone will use it. We went to the field at 5am to have morning devotion. During the Bible reading, insects are biting you or you are feeling cold. It was overwhelming. I bought food mostly from mammy market because I didn’t eat camp food. Marching was exhausting sometimes but I enjoyed the interactive exercises. One of the military guys liked me to the point he started stalking me. He would prevent people from speaking to me. I complained to the woman in charge of the entire camp. SAED was the worst thing on the planet. I slept back to back. My favorite part of NYSC camp was the people. I met a girl and we had a crush on each other. I really liked a guy in my squad and everyone who saw the connection told him to marry me. I was the one who studied overseas so people wanted to hear my voice and I found that hilarious. People you meet in camp are real niggas. They have seen you at your worst. Mammy market at night was also fun. Different guys trying to hit on you. NYSC was an experience.
I never wanted to do my NYSC in the first place. I did it for my parents, just to get it out of the way and so Nigerian bosses won’t pay me shitty salary. NYSC was stressful from the moment I registered for it until the day I got my certificate. When I saw that my camp was in Kogi state, I cried cause I didn’t want to travel by road plus the whole insecurity and all. I got to camp, took a Covid test and went to the field. In less than 10 minutes, a soldier told us all to kneel down. I became furious. After the event was over, I found a mattress and my dorm. The following day, I started processing my exit from camp because the toilet was disgusting and where to shower wasn’t good either. I ate from mammy market a lot to the point she took my numbers before I left camp. After several back and forth, I left camp after a week. I made very few friends. It was difficult to find people who lived in Lagos and I didn’t like that most of the people I met still used Facebook. Luckily for me, I relocated to Lagos. My Local Government Inspector (LGI) was a pain in the butt. We would arrive at the CDS venue as early as 7am or 8am and she would only release us at noon around 2pm or 3pm if she is feeling extra wicked. She was just really difficult and really wanted us to come for CDS. Dealing with that once a week for a year was difficult. At the end, she extorted money from people who had lots of absenteeism on their file. When it was time to get my certificate at my POP, I was stressed. I arrived at 10am and went to the field. A lady didn’t want to hand out our certificate because we weren’t on a straight line. Someone reported her before she attended to us. I stood for about 4 hours trying to preserve my line. By the time I got my certificate, it was past 3pm and my legs were shaky. I do not recommend NYSC.
My experience was good. I served in Ibadan. Camp was low-key fun and I stayed throughout camp surprisingly. After camp, the place I was posted to was not great. I was promised a salary of 15k. I told them to reject me. While I waited for my relocation, I looked for a PPA in Ibadan. I found a secondary school and the man wanted me to be a chemistry teacher which was hilarious. The salary was 10k. I told him not to worry that I would pay him 10k to sign me out. I just went to Ibadan for CDS sometimes and clearance.
My NYSC experience was good and bad. Right from camp, I didn’t like NYSC. Camp was horrible. The food was mediocre and the marching became tiresome. I came back to Lagos to work at my Primary Place of Assignment (PPA). My PPA was nice but the stress of going to CDS once a week on a weekly basis was stressful. I survived the burden of my LGI and did it for a year. I just had to be determined to stay to the end and I am glad I am done.
It was great. I think it’s just the usual for me. It was nothing serious. I just went from my CDS to my PPA basically. I am not based in Lagos but it was interesting in my own way. I was able to see things from the Lagos lens compared to Ibadan, where I am from. My advice for everyone joining the next batch is to try and make friends. It will be worth it.
*This article is based on real-life events. Names used are mere pseudonyms to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned in the article.
Nigerian Lives is a Culture Custodian weekly series where we hear from Nigerians who share tidbits about what it’s like to live in this country. It goes up every Monday.
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