Welcome ladies and gentle men to a world where gentility is not a sought after virtue, a world where you can’t have your time but operate on a programmed schedule, where you sought of operate like a computer that acts on commands. I guess if you had your way you would not want to be in such a world but the irony about it is that when one is preparing for this trip the excitement of getting there beclouds one and one never imagines what one would experience on arrival.
The National Youth Service Corp was established in 1973 by the Yakubu Gowon administration as a means of integrating Nigerian youths into the society they would live in. One of its objectives was to take youths to other parts of the country so they could appreciate the diversity in Nigeria and grow up to be better leaders in future. The exercise was designed to last for one year beginning with the three weeks training by soldiers to prepare the youths for the challenges ahead. After the three weeks, the coppers were posted to different offices and schools to perform their national assignments, and the federal government paid a monthly stipend to assist the coppers. This experience is one that every Nigerian graduate looks forward to because it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.
The irony of the NYSC orientation camp is that there is no bread and butter there. Bread and butter in the sense that nothing is gotten on a platter of gold, every thing you get you have to work and very hard for it. For instance you may assume that you’ll walk in there get registered and just have fun, that is far from the truth, you have to get a skin treatment by queuing in the sun, probably sitting on the floor at the expense of your Italian shoe. That should be enough punishment but you still have to cope with waking up as early as 4.am( early risers have no problem with that) and go for the early morning parade which is not optional except for sicklers and nursing mothers amidst the morning cold.
I must commend the NYSC leadership for their sense of nutrition as foods served are quite nutritious but too small for someone with a large appetite. There you would be served bread and egg with tea, rice with chicken, yam and fish sauce and of course garri and soup. You will even be treated to welcome parties and other such programmes. Funny enough in the camp you are sure to suffer information overload as you are made to attend lectures delivered by persons from various organizations almost every day. The lectures are not the problem but the condition under which you receive the lecture. You are moved from the field to the lecture venue which can barely contain half of the population, then you have to stand for the two hours and the resource person tries to make you understand in two hours what he learnt in many years.
The soldiers on the other hand do not make things easy, they harass you to the fullest and if you mistakenly default you become the scape goat. I guess you are feeling discouraged already, there’s no need to be because in all of these experiences there’s still fun like meeting people ,learning a new sport etc.
The spate of violence on the other hand have robbed Nigerian students of the opportunity to know other parts of Nigeria as most of them serve in their states of origin for fear of being killed by the bombers.
In all of these, it is only at the NYSC camp that you are sure of three square meals and a bed every day. Outside the camp, you fend for yourself. So, enjoy camp while it lasts.