Tests, Temptations and Triumphs; my 11 month NYSC Journey – Part 2b

Friendships and Relationships

A popular Yoruba adage I know says that “Ogun omode ole sere fun ogun odun”, meaning “40 children cannot play together for 40 years.” This quote comes to mind readily when I remember all the great people I met going through NYSC. Yes, I met the great, good, bad and ugly and they sure leave me with memories.

My journey to camp was made memorable by Omiyera Michael. We had known each other from our early days in OAU and when he informed me that he was also posted to Oyo, we decided to ride together. I arrived his apartment in Ibadan the day before camp was scheduled to open from where we left for camp. Quite ironically, while on our way to camp, we both agreed that we would just go through the entire exercise quietly without being noticed, but this was not the case. After registration, we ended up being in the same platoon and the rest is history; the entire platoon knew us as the comedians of the platoon. We rolled back the tricks from our days of residing in Awolowo Hall, OAU. While alone, I was the quiet unassuming guy, but with Michael, I was something else. Our accommodation was in the same room, so hooking up was not a problem. We made and lost the same friends, cracked the same jokes, went for our meals at the same time and went through our days in one another’s company, well except for when female companions came in between us. In all, Michael was my camp friend and brother, without whom camp may have just been a boring experience. Together, we had the fun of our lives and I’m sure our friends and admirers never had a dull moment. Jagboro Milcah was my coursemate and good friend from OAU, and when we ended up in the same platoon, it became much easy for us to bond even more. We met up after parade, in company of Michael, rolled back the memories of university, while also revelling in the current situation of camping we had found ourselves in. Ajagbe Adeola, was a pretty lady that I had always seen from afar. She was a member of my platoon who I didn’t think I was going to get along with. However, when she was paired with me as the supporting speaker in the inter-platoon debate competition, I knew that I had to move beyond my initial reservations to ensure we became a formidable team. Together we won the preliminaries and lost the finals, we are still in constant touch today. My first encounter with Agun Ifejesu was not entirely a pleasant one. I had met Tochukwu her roommate through Michael and in a matter of days, we became very good friends. While relaxing in the hostel one quiet afternoon, I saw Tochukwu pass-by and as I made my way to greet her, her supposed companion spoke to me in a rather harsh way. I really cannot place a finger on what it is that she said, albeit jokingly, but my reaction was to laugh it off and in a matter of seconds we were chatting away. More than anything, Ifejesu turned out to be my “Camp girlfriend”, as we relatively looked for each other and hung-out on a regular basis. She was in a steady relationship that was headed for marriage and although I was not ready to rock that boat, I basked in the quality of friendship I enjoyed in her company. Unlike many corpers, I was not a regular visitor to the mammy market. Not that I had any issues with going in there, but I just felt there was too much of booze there and a high chance of mixing with the wrong company. Since I was quite okay with the food that was served at the camp kitchen, I was able to hold on to my resolve to ensure only a few trips. A day that however stood out for me was when I attended the birthday party of a friend. Bimbo was also another friend that I met through Michael and since we were almost always in company, it was not a difficult task getting along with her. Her birthday fell on one of the days we were in camp and she planned a moderate bash to celebrate it. As much as I tried to avoid attending, she kept insisting that I attend, with occasional light threats. I eventually attended and was perhaps blown away by what was on display. This party was what I would call an A-list camp party, with all the trappings of fun and enjoyment, food in all forms, drinks, loud music and swaying bodies. As much as possible, I was mindful of the liquid content I consumed and eventually ended up dancing (something I had perhaps not done in a long time) with the celebrant and a few other ladies in attendance. In all I would say it was a good party, although it had all the caution signs ringing around. Without forgetting anyone, I must say that although I met many friends in camp, it is quite impossible for me to write out in great detail every name and face I met over there. The names I’ve however noted are the ones that perhaps that left lasting impressions within that period of 3 weeks.

My friend list in Oyo, is definitely a much longer one. I spent the most of my service year in the town and met really great people who I never thought I would meet. Some of them are still my very close friends till date while a few others have perhaps faded with the passing time.

The very first friend I made was Ojo Temitayo. We met in the bus that was to convey us to Oyo from the camp. While I was still fuming at the thought of being posted to such place, I met someone who was perhaps excited at the prospect. When I got to the bus, he welcomed me well, as though he had been there before and seemed okay with the thought of Oyo. We really did not converse throughout the journey to Oyo, as I chose to withdraw into my thought-state, but when we arrived at the NCCF family house, he was there to cheer me up again. The day after we arrived Oyo, he saw me seated in one corner of the room in deep thought and rather than walk past, he cut into my reverie with sharp rebuke, chiding me for being gloomy over the Oyo idea. In his words, it was at least better than being posted to some more interior places. Beyond the early days, Tayo was to become a close companion for me, especially during my time as the CLO. He was serving in the audit department of the local government secretariat and he made it a point of duty to always check me up in the NYSC office whenever he was less busy. I always look back to those times when we laughed, argued and shouted. Without those periods, I may have perhaps had a boring time seating in the office. Whenever there was a need to get to somewhere for some official duty, asides calling my other Excos, Tayo was always a sure company. His nickname at the time was “Ojabo”, after he survived a ghastly accident while commuting to Oyo, which left a noticeable cut on his head. We remain friends till this day, checking up on each other on a regular basis and waiting to share good news as life progresses. Vaughn Ibukunoluwa Olayinka as I always loved to call her was my housemate, sister, friend and confidant. Although we were in the same platoon in camp, we got along only a few times, but getting into Oyo, we became friends from the very first day of arrival. It was she who spurred me on to commence my accommodation search as we ended up live in the same house. I am at a loss of words to describe the communality that we created in that house, in company of Fagbemiro Oluwaseun, Isiyemi Akindele ( the Batch C corper we met) and much later Ademoye Adedamola and corper Raphael. Ibukun and Seun were more like sisters to me. I remember the concern of a friend when I told him I would be living in a house with two other ladies. A concern that was largely based on previous cases of immorality that supposed housemates had been involved in while in service. With Ibukun and Seun, I had sisters, with whom I could discuss anything (even to the detail of ladies that caught my fancy in and around our local government). Almost everynight, we would sit to relax outside the house, sharing tales of past incidents, daily conquests and future plans. There were days when we would sit in Ibukun’s room watching her latest collection of Nollywood movies, eating from her pot and perhaps gisting though the night, the highpoint been when we were all awake till about 1am, talking and catching fun. While Ibukun was more energetic and fun to be with, Seun was a quieter version. Talk about God making us with our unique differences and Seun comes to mind. We often teased her that she stayed indoors more than was necessary, but all came to the conclusion that we sure could not all be the same. I enjoyed the calmness and quietness of Seun’s company. Not one to be in a rush, walking with her to school meant reducing my normal pace by well over ten steps per second. On our last day at the PPA, she was presented a gift as the best female corper in the school and it definitely was a reward that was not in doubt – Seun just had a way of being the best behaved in a pack and this is one virtue I perhaps need to learn from her.

Fawekun Oloruntoba lived in the house right beside me. He was a relocated corper from Gombe and was initially faced with the challenge of securing accommodation. After a long wait, he got a pretty decent room, which was about twice the size of my room. Apart from being my neighbour, he was also a fellow corper in my PPA, teaching Geography, alongside another of my friends Mufutau Omotayo. I enjoyed Toba’s company a whole lot because he was someone who was always ready to be engaged with meaningful intellectual conversations. Talk of a young man with a deep repertoire of Yoruba anecdotes and Toba is who comes to mind. He was also someone who had facts and figures at his fingertips, always doling them out in conversations/arguments with great ease, especially when it concerned politics and football. I have not seen anyone within my age group who is as committed to news listening as much as Toba. He would start with BBC world service in the morning, and end up at night browsing a variety of news sites on his mobile phone. As much as I earned a reputation of being too studious in Oyo, I always thought that Toba was the man to beat, except for the fact that he read more of news, while I busied myself in biographies, books, reports and other business strategy materials. Much later, I was able to convince him to subscribe to the Mckinsey Quarterly, a privilege which he had great delight in. When it was time to appoint a coach for our football team, I had no doubts about appointing Toba, although our team ended up having the worst record in a while, losing all 4 games played, an outcome that was really not due to any fault of his, but perhaps the state of the team, having a shortage of skilled players. After service, we’ve caught up a few times on Whatsapp, keeping up with recent updates about our lives and career.  Emmanuel Ogunjobi to me was the most intelligent corps member I came across in Oyo. As a batch C corps member in the local government, he struck me as someone who was very articulate, had the ability to think big, achieving big things in the process. Emmanuel and I did not start out as friends, but after I was appointed as CLO, we started to talk and after a while he intimated me of his plans to carry out a personal Community development project. It was this project that brought us together as I took up the responsibility of providing some strategic support to the implementation of the project. As my tenure came to an end, and passing-out loomed, I had an assurance in me that Emmanuel would make a worthy successor and did not hesitate to recommend him to the LGI. He was appointed into the office of the CLO on Thursday 30th May 2013 and did a great job. For his tremendous impact in the community (with his Tech empowerment program) and unrelenting effort as CLO, he won a State award and also got a letter of recommendation at the passing out ceremony. Although I also got a letter of recommendation from the state secretariat, I was glad that my successor surpassed me.

The duo of Akinyemi Kikelomo and Akinbi Kehinde were a fantastic company for me in Oyo. They were batch C corpers who got into Oyo after I was well settled. Initially, for one reason or the other, I didn’t enjoy the privilege of friendship with Kike, but Kenny and I got on very well, perhaps because she was also a “Great-Ife” alumni. As time went on however, Kike and I became good friends and together the duo represented a great company for me. The irony of the friendship was that, Kike accused me of not checking her up whenever Kenny was not in town, while Kenny also did the same whenever Kike wasn’t around. The key lesson I learnt from that was that their joint company was what made the friendship tick. Although I must say that Kenny provided a very reliable personality to me, providing the much needed support and co-operation as we worked together to develop a vibrant press crew in the local government. When it was time to leave, I had no doubts in my mind that she would do a good job when I heard of her appointment as the new CDS secretary in the local government.

The trio of Blankson Eyewumi, Omojola Toyin and Aborisade Busayo remain the best friends I ever had in Oyo. It was this girls that provided the best of company for me. They were Batch C corps members in the local govt, who came in around December 2012. I first met Wunmi while she was searching for accommodation, having just arrived in Oyo from camp. We got on well from the very beginning and this served as a great platform to meet with her other friends – Toyin and Busola. I am short of words to describe the warmth and affection I enjoyed in their company. Theirs was one house I could go to with an assurance that I would return well catered for, either with some tasty meals or with quality gists and lots of trouble making. I was embarrassed with hugs the next time I visited Oyo after passing-out, but really we couldn’t help it, after such time away from seeing them.

Apart from the many friends I made in the local government and PPA, the award for the most memorable friendships definitely goes to my friends from NCCF. As much as everyone I’ve previously mentioned contributed in one way or the other to my pleasurable stay, the role that NCCF played is something I will run out of words describing. Being a slow integrator, I grew into the NCCF fold a little at a time, but when I did get in, I enjoyed every bit of it. From the Papa (Zonal Coordinator – Ayotunde Samuel), through the Uncle (Zonal Secretary – Bode Olabode), Auntii (Assistant Secretary – Obasi Ogechi) Mama (Sisters’ Coordinator – Eniola) Prayer coordinator (Orhuamen Elizabeth), Music Director (Adewale Adedamola), TOS man (Transport and Organising Secretary – Ejimudo Bob Erabor), Publo (Publicity Secretary – Olabode Stephen), Rabbi (Bible study secretary – Taiwo Adeyinka), Rugged (Zonal Evangelism secretary – Ayeni Evans) to the members of the fellowship, this group of people brought great joy to me and for this I’m eternally grateful. Prior to my appointment as an executive and even up until two months after, I barely made it to either of Sunday fellowships or the family house, but after my first unplanned visit to the family house, I became a regular caller. The Oyo zone family house was not like every other NCCF family house around. As much as there was a chance of being dogmatic, the occupants of this house were a great company to behold. There was a great sense of congeniality on display and whenever we went for state-wide programs (conferences and rural-ruggeds), we were always easy to notice, as our level of bonding was legendary. Whenever I look back at the times spent in the house, I remember the fun words and statements that we always threw around; Eyyyyyyiiii was our typical greeting and proclamation of excitement, “ igbago e ti san” ( your faith has become watery) was our simple way of making jest of some other person, I too gbadun you!!! Was a loud shout we made to psyche the other person, who would in turn respond by saying “I too like you!!!”, “the man that understands the nitty-gritty” is a statement that is credited to Ayeni Evans the zonal rugged, who always said this whenever he was trying to eulogise someone. I enjoyed every worship, praise, prayer, rehearsal, conversations and argument made in the family house and above it all, I really do miss fellowship, welcoming, sendforth, rural rugged and every program held. The family song is such an integral part of me now that I sometimes catch myself singing it while working on a chore. I’m still very much in touch with a good number of friends from NCCF as we actively engage in discussions in the Family house BBM Group. I’m convinced without any iota of doubt that this group of people are destined for the top.

The truth remains that I made so many friends in Oyo, that I can hardly mention every single one of them. I’ve done my best to mention the few that caught my heart through my stay and sincerely apologise to anyone who I may have unintentionally left out.

 



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