The Many Temptations
On my final day in camp, as I prepared to leave the tiring confines of the camp environment, I updated my BBM status to read “ Mo lo mo bo mi o b’omo je”, meaning “ I went and came back without spoiling my good boy (Yoruba folks should perhaps pardon my poor interpretation skills). What this phrase meant to communicate is that through the many temptations of camp, I was able to stay above board and not get tangled up. In all truth and fairness, I must confess that the same cannot be said of my stay in Oyo. As much as I tried to stay above board, I got caught up in one or two things that smeared my otherwise clean slate. I sure had my times of hard falls, everytime doing my very best to pick myself up. The many things I daily battled with perhaps gave me a glimpse of why many leaders around us eventually end up as failures, despite having an impeccable record prior to their appointments. I became exposed to so much onslaught, in such short time, that I constantly had to remind myself of who I really was, where I was coming from and where I was headed. It was not an easy task though, but I carried my cross. Throughout my entire existence, I’ve always made a good boast of the fact that I didn’t take alcohol (except of course palm wine and a few sips of beer I had way back in secondary school) and I had never or wou;d never buy such for anybody. In Oyo however, it was quite amusing the amount of people who were always willing to take me out on a drink or two, either in exchange for some favors or just a harmless hang-out. I stood my ground as much as possible, politely telling them that I did not drink, but I must confess that my strong resistance had a little cave-in when I had to pay for about 4 crates of beer, in preparation for our party. It had become a tradition that any batch preparing for passing-out party would at least guarantee food and drinks for everyone, from the contributions made, with the drinks being mal and beer. So, I paid for the beer… Gbam! I thought that would be the first and the last, but I still did it again, when I had to buy a drink for one of the artistes that was billed to perform, as some sort of motivation. Apart from the times I purchased alcohol for people, I also took in a few spirits, the first being in the passing-out party of another local government that I was invited to by the CLO. I arrived the party rather early, based on the word of assurance I had given to my CLO friend, but upon arrival I realised that I had come too early and so I had to find a place to chill-off with my friends that I had come with. Initially it was an easy choice to make as I gladly purchased my chilled bottled of malt. After the party started and perhaps gradually wore on into boredom, other friends joined up and came insisting I at least took some AMARULA. I have always seen billboard adverts of this product but never ventured near it. I thought to try and trust me, it tasted a lot milky, just like Baileys. I mixed it with Hollandia milk and it truly tasted sweet, but the alarm bells in my head continued to ring ALCOHOL!! ALCOHOL!! ALCOHOL!!. Back in the hall for the party, I was invited to sit on a table by one of the supposed big boys in the local government, with whom I had developed some growing friendship. While on the table, he kept asking me what it was I wanted to drink, most definitely alcohol, but I nonetheless requested for malt which I eventually mixed with a few pint of some spirit.
All this I did not to satisfy anyone, or prove my capabilities, but to perhaps satisfy my curiosity. Asides the temptation of drinks, there perhaps occurred a few other incidents which I would rather not mention for the sake of posterity. So in all, I will perhaps conclude that I had my fair share of temptations in Oyo, I succumbed to a number, overcame most of it and picked myself up, working hard to become a better person.
Last few days
As my months of stay in Oyo rolled into days, I began to look at the town from another angle. This was a time I had hated to love, but had gradually become a great place for me. The week before my passing-out, the LGI selected Ogunjobi Emmanuel and a team of 4 other people as a succeeding tenure to mine. I had nominated Emmanuel to the LGI based on some interaction I had with him, about his personal project. To me, Emmanuel was one of the most responsive and responsible Batch C corpers we had in the local government. He did not prove me wrong, as we kept in touch all through his tenure and was more than glad when he broke the news to me that his personal project (which I had been privileged to anchor the opening event) had won a state award. As the last days of my stay in Oyo became fewer, the key tasks I was left with included organising our passing-out-party, attended the parties of other local governments and preparing for the passing-out-parade/ceremony. About two weeks before passing-out, the batch B corps members in the school were presented with gift items, for a meritorious service to the school. While most of us received the same gift items, a few other people were honoured with awards, for being the most dutiful corps members. Well, I knew I didn’t deserve such honour based on my continued disagreements with my V.P over maltreatment of corps members and was not surprised not to have been so honoured. At the end of the session, the other corps members gave me the singular honour of giving a vote of thanks on behalf of everyone, which I gladly did. The day slated for our passing-out party came and went as I gladly saw it pass, but not without the stress of organising, which meant sleepless nights, personal financial sacrifices, a throbbing headache and a tired body. The reports I received afterwards was that it was a huge success, although it started on a slow note. A highpoint as well was the surprise on the face of many people when they saw me dance at the party. Why wouldn’t I? After slaving for four months with a frown on my face, I was more than elated to let down the straight face I had become synonymous with. Asides attending my local government’s party, I also attended that of 2 other local governments based on the invitation of the respective CLOs. In addition to this activities, the church I attended in Oyo, RCCG Rehoboth Cathedral also honoured the passing-out corps members, with special gifts for those who played a significant role in the church’s workforce, of which I was one of them. Just like I was asked to do in school, I was also honoured to have been asked to give the closing remark on behalf of the passing out corps members. In all, the last few days of my stay in Oyo proved to be far more eventful than I had previously anticipated.
I finally left Oyo on the 8th of June 2013, the day after receiving my discharge certificate. Although I had initially planned to stay back for at least 1 week, to rest a little from the exhaustion of working as the CLO, this wish never materialised as I was expected to resume at a compulsory training session that was on-going at my place of work. As such, I had no other choice, other than to leave and prepare for resumption the following Monday. While in church the previous Sunday, I gave a testimony that although I came into Oyo town with my heads down, I could say with all boldness that I was leaving with my head up high. The core of service started for me in February and within a space of about 4 months, I had contributed significantly to the course of events in my local government and community of primary assignment. I was really shocked to see people cry as they saw me prepare to leave. Words failed many as they sought out ways to eulogise my contributions in their lives. Wunmi, Toyin and Busayo could not imagine the thought of not seeing me around, Kenny and Kike played about the fact that there would be no one to come disturbing them early in the morning, while my landlady just could not come to terms with the fact that my NYSC period was over (as well as that of the other Batch B corps members that livened up the front space of her shop with tales). Prior to my exit, I had made a promise to Emmanuel Ogunjobi that I would help him anchor the opening phase for his program which was slated for the day I was to leave Oyo and so this promise I sure did fulfil. It was a tech empowerment program for secondary school students which he had come up with based on the immediate needs of the schools around in Oyo who lacked a good deal of ICT facilities, curriculum and teachers. I enjoyed every bit of anchoring as it brought back the memorable times I spent in OAU anchoring birthdays, debates, choir concerts, among others. Once I was done with the program, I hurried home to pick up my already packed bags enroute the motor park and finally began my return journey to Lagos, a city I had missed so much. As the vehicle made its way out of Oyo, my eyes caught my recommendation letter from the state NYSC secretariat and as I looked back into the city once more, I felt a sense of pride as I knew for sure that I could write in the sands of time that in Oyo, “I came, I saw and I conquered”
It’s been over 6 months since I left the sleepy town of Oyo and I must confess that inasmuch as I looked forward to every opportunity to leave that town, I have come to miss it so much. I’ve spent 6 months in Lagos, waking up every day to meet up with the crazy traffic, returning late at night to a cold bed and continuing the cycle over again, even on weekends. I’ve returned to Oyo twice after passing-out, with the most recent visit to attend the passing-out-party of the outgoing Batch C, honouring the invitation of my successor. I miss the football trainings I had that were instrumental in me shedding weight ( bulk of which I’ve already gained back), I miss the opportunity to wake up by 7:45 and still make it to work before 8:30, I miss the places where I would easily sneak into and commandeer some wraps of pounded yam, I miss the Okada men in Oyo who would at the first call, mention outrageous fares as though they were taking you on a road trip, I miss RCCG Rehoboth Cathedral, where I had the privilege of actively functioning in two major departments (Sunday school and multimedia), I miss the dusty streets of Ladigbolu lane I, I miss having to think of the next CDS meeting to plan, the next project to commission and the next corper to look out for. Above all, I miss the company of NCCF, Kai!!! I miss singing family song o.
For me it was a time of Tests and Temptations and I must say that I triumphed over them all…
I obeyed the clarion call,
I most assuredly lifted my nation high
Under the sun I stood and in the rain I remained
With dedication I toiled and in selflessness I strove
Nigeria is mine, Nigeria, I served
ADEBIYI OLUSEYI AKANO