Endearing Experiences of NYSC

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BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO

“Start with good people, lay out the rules, Communicate With your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss”.

-LEE LACOCCA, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CHRYSLER

The above opening quote which incidentally I took from the first book to have been authored by one of Nigeria’s most successful banker Mr. Jim Ovia titled “Africa Rise and Shine: How a Nigerian entrepreneur from Humble beginnings Grew a Business to $16 Billion”, seems to also be describing graphically the exemplary leadership of Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

My Constituency which is the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) decided to hear directly from serving members of the NYSC all across Nigeria and also from those who had served about what endear them to the NYSC with a view to reaching an empirical conclusion that the praises being heaped on the hierarchy at the NYSC now are no flukes but are merit based and that the management of the NYSC have manifested profound levels if competence and professionalism. We got over a dozen entries with few hours but I decided to showcase only very few. Read on.
My name is Monye Chidinma, A serving corp member in Anambra State and a graduate of English language and literary studies, Imo State university. I will start by writing about the wonderful experiences i had at the NYSC permanent orientation camp Umuawulu/Mbaukwu Awka South L. G. A, Anambra State. I saw the orientation camp as a nurturing ground for prospective gentlemen corp members(PCMS) from different ethnicity, cultures and beliefs, Thereby promoting unity and diversity which is one of aims and objectives of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

Camp introduced me to the regimented lifestyle where i had no other option but to adapt to the rules and regulations guiding the camp. For instance, Obeying the bigul sounds which presupposes that there’s time for everything. Time to sleep, Time to wake, Time for morning devotion, Time to raise the Nigerian flag, Time for morning drills organized by the Man O’war officials, Time for parade, time for lessons /Skill acquisition and entrepreneurial development (SAED) Time for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and light out.

I participated actively in the Man’O war activities where i learnt leadership qualities and principles through the Man O’war leader, Comrade Egbo Asuqo. During the Man’O war drills i encountered some challenges as we were being prepared for the unprecedented circumstances ahead of us as future leaders. Some of the activities includes walking on the symbol of justice, Which presupposes that nobody is above the law and justice must prevail without prejudice. Crawling under iron net, The net symbolizes the masses and this means that me as a leader must humble myself before the people I’m leading, Failure to do that, The masses will pull me down.

Another one is climbing a rope where we were expected to turn over, This particular task came as a big challenge to me, because i found it difficult turning over. It taught me PERSEVERANCE, There are life challenges that may seem impossible to overcome, keep pushing and be determined to excel. We also passed through a tunnel where i learnt that there is light at the end of every hurdle.

Another aspect of the NYSC scheme i enjoyed so much is the Skill Acquisition And Entrepreneurial Development classes (SAED) Which was a golden opportunity for corp members to acquire skills which includes Catering and crafts, Agro-farming, Makeup, ICT, paint making, Etc. Instead of depending on white collar jobs. Our State Coordinator, Yetunde Baderinwa (Mrs) ensured that we took the SAED classes seriously by providing experienced facilitators in all the fields. The SAED training sessions further enlightened me in my already acquired catering skill, I’m super proud of that.

We also had numerous training sessions like Security Awareness where i learnt Threat Assessment, Risk Assessment, Negative Acculturation, Vulnerability Assessment, Indicators Of Terrorism And Counter – Action, Action On Sighting Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’S), Personal Safety Against Covid-19 Pandemic, Home security, Traveling Security Etc.

We were also engaged in career development training sessions organized by YOU WIN CONNECT, They issued us a book titled ‘Successful Nigerian Entrepreneurs’ (How they started), The book revolves around the fascinating stories of some of Nigerian most popular business brands and how they conquered insurmountable odds at different stages of their business, Their struggle s, trials and triumphs. The YOU WIN business development manual taught me a lot after reading the success stories of some of the influential business brands like Zaron cosmetics, L&Z integrated farms, Luxe, Health plus, The Okunoren Twins, Printivo, Flutter wave, Home of Theresa (Hot) etc.

Furthermore, During the lecture session i learnt some of the secrets to a successful business, ‘As a business owner, Your staff is your number one fan, Take care of them, Look out for their welfare, teach them the best and watch them stand in the gap for you’, This particular statement of caring for workers further strengthened the existing relationship i have with my workers and as a result of that, They handled business contracts successfully in my absence (Catering).

At the YOU WIN CONNECT business training sessions i also learnt the following : Don’t squander profit to impress individuals, Spend carefully and save.
Know yourself, Believe yourself, Talk positively to yourself because you are your biggest fan.
As a business owner you should be a solution provider through the services you render.
Enjoy what you do, and have fun with your business.

Make your staff happy because they represent you and your business (Very important). I must say that the YOU WIN training sessions was a wonderful one for business owners and aspiring business owners, I’m grateful to NYSC officials for giving me such rare opportunity.

At the NYSC permanent orientation camp Umuawulu/Mbaukwu Awka South, Anambra State. We were also introduced to the customs and traditions of different ethnic groups in Nigeria through the performance of the platoons as each platoon showcased the culture and traditions of the ethnic group which they represent, It was indeed an experience that has reshaped my thoughts about some tribes, The NYSC have done marvellously well in promoting culture and diversity as we experienced other peoples way of life through the platoons presentation in camp.

The experiences i had at the camp alone are so endearing and can make a novel if i pen everything down because every moment in camp is worth writing down for archive purpose.

OUTSIDE CAMP EXPERIENCES SO FAR.
I left the NYSC camp prepared and ready to put everything I learnt into practice, especially the Man’O war trainings, The security trainings, Career trainings, You Win business development trainings etc. When i received and read my PPA letter which read ‘Girls’ Secondary School Ogidi, Idemili North LGA’, What came into my mind was the snake i tradition (Eke Idemili), Some people were rejoicing while people like me were uncertain of what our PPA have to offer. I remembered my Man’O war training sessions and raised my head high straight to the NACC church altar to present my PPA letter to God, NACC is the acronym for National association of catholic corp members. After that I became positive and ready to enjoy Idemili. I reported to my LGA immediately and was also accepted by my school principal, I was taken to the corpers lodge which was nothing to write home about. So i went house hunting that same day till i secured a suitable environment for my sanity. On getting to the school i was posted to, I introduced myself to the principal as a corp member and also issued my business card to her as a corp caterer. You can imagine the boldness and confidence.

As a BA holder in English and literary studies, Imo State university, I was asked to teach literature in English, and as a caterer by profession, I was also given Home Economies to teach. Since i reported to my PPA, it has been from glory to glory as i have been recognized as a caterer by the school staff and students after handling the catering aspect successfully during the school valedictory service.

My NYSC experiences so far has been a great one, As i relocated from Imo State to serve my father land in Anambra State, If not for NYSC i wouldn’t have learnt the things i know now. To the NYSC organizers may God continue to strengthen you and give you the capacity to face the numerous challenges that comes with it. I also wish to thank specially the NYSC D. G, Brig Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim for work well- done.

My name is Matthew Zakka an Ex Corp member with state code number; EK/19A/1234. A graduate of Political Science from Kaduna State University, born and brought up in Karu and currently residing at Karu-Abuja.

As a fresh grandaunt from Kaduna State University in 2019, the urge to put on the NYSC khaki was irresistible and uncontrollable. This was not unconnected with the many tales that I have in the past or let me say before graduation heard about how Corp members and service year was.

I have heard people leave service and call it a scam because they never experienced anything from it, I have heard of story of how some met their lifetime partner in the course of serving their Nation. How government sponsored their wedding, I have seen some that gained alot and became very independent after the 12months scheme. I have heard of life in camp, “Mami” where corp members do go for hang out.

I have, In some, social parlance heard many termed them (Corp Members) as “Government Property”. To this effect, the quest to put on the Khaki and prove to as many that care to know that I’m a certified graduate can only be best imagine.

Oh Lord! I can’t just wait to put on this regalia. When oh Lord? These and many more where thoughts that dominated the mind of a fresh and innocent graduant like me.

It follows, that, the news for mobilization is on. I quickly rushed to the Cyber Cafe and register myself. In the process of filling my bio data, I got to certain point, in which, I was asked to chose 4 States that I would love to serve.

So, I chose Kano, Abia, Ekiti and Nasarawa State. I wanted Kano State but Lo and behold, I was later assign to serve in Ekiti State. I hurriedly printed out my green card, made five photocopies each of my credentials.

And When I got home I picked up some Sunday wears, my camp wears (Whites) and a flask and other utensils and prepared my self for the journey to Ekiti- Emure

It so happens, that, I arrived so late at Emure Camp in Ekiti State. The journey was so hectic. Worst still, my phone was dead as I was watching movie through out the journey.

I couldn’t call anyone at home or my close ally Isaac Danladi to inform him that I arrived safely. So the following morning, I asked a fellow where I can charge my phone and he directed me to a place (Mami) as it is fondly called and I was charged N50 and was given a tagg.

After some hours I was back and I gave the vendor his tagg and N50 and he gave me my phone. It was there and then that I called home to notify them that I arrived safely but couldn’t call home because the phone was off.

I couldn’t register myself that very day, so the next day, I joined the queue for registration.

Registration was such a herculean task. It took me three days before I could get registered.

After being registered, It was then I viewed myself as a free born. I’m such a social fellow an extrovert to the core. So, making friends was just easy and flexible.

I made myself available to Camp activities ranging from series of lectures, military drills, Man o War, Drama club, Cultural group, Red Cross,Quarter guard, comedy among others. However, I was much interested in military drills.
Even so, I would safely say, my NYSC experience at Ekiti was worth it and endearing. Although, I miss home but every moment spent away from home was awesome.

One endearing aspect of my NYSC year is that it prepared me to comprehend how life can be in a new land with no family. I made new friends both in camp and in my Primary Place of Assignment (PPA) – Jonathan Affiku, Sunday Dare, Deborah Denikite, Raphael Okom just to mention but few.

NYSC, gave me the best supportive friends and Mother, whom I will never forgive myself if I fail to mention her here – Iya Alake. She is a mother in the true sense of the word. There was never a dull moment with her.
I, had the opportunity to learn other people’s culture, integrate with people from different religious, political and ethnic lines. It made me to understand that their is strength and unity in diversity and makes me to understanding in full the saying; “Another man’s food is another man’s poison”
Moreso, another aspect that was so dear to me, was the monthly stipend of N19,800 (Alawi), as a fresh graduate, who, before now often depends and call friends and family for monthly stipend while schooling and now getting to know that a whooping sum of N19,800 would be mine was the sweetest joy ever to me. It made me to see myself as already a civil servant.

Also, walking the street or while going for Community Development service and seeing children and adults chanting “Kopa Shun” “Kopa Shun” was such an endearing experience to me. It made feel I have arrived.

Again, NYSC gave me a complete state of independence. It made me to understand how to live within my monthly stipend of N19,800. It inculcate that managerial prowess in me. It made me see life in a broader perspective. In a nutshell, it prepared me for life after service.

Added to the above, the scheme, instill leadership qualities in me and prepare me physically and mentally for the challenges of life. It further, adjust my view of society and life as a whole from idealism to realism.
It indeed avail me a smooth transition from the academic world into the larger society as a full working class and I confidently and honourably submitted myself to it, in view, of the fact that it provide me the platform to contribute my quota to Nation building.

My name is Oreji Chibuike Emmanuel an Ex Corp member with State Code Tr/17b/0283. I hail from Uburu Ohaozara L.G.A Ebonyi State a graduate of Civil Engineering from Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.

Two years after graduation I still find it uninteresting to go for NYSC. That faithful night my mum called me and ask me a striking question “Chibuike are you sure you truly graduated from the university as you said?” I answered “Yes” she asked me “Why haven’t you gone for NYSC?” I was speechless. After then in decided to mobilise for NYSC only to prove to her I actually graduated.
During mobilization, I selected Anambra state, Delta state, Benue state and finally Taraba State which is where I least wanted to go. As my fate could have it, I was posted to Taraba State. On that faithful Monday morning I arrived Upper Iweka park in Onitsha Anambra were we left for Taraba State with other Prospective Corp members.

On getting to the Orientation camp on Monday Night, registration commenced were I was given a room alongside with people from different ethnic background and different geographical zones, 3- Northerners, 1 middle belt, 1 south-south and 2 south eastern (I and my Roommate/course mate in School).
Right from the registration points, I started to learn the following;
Ethic Integration: Relating with my Roommates made me to see Love, understanding from the Northern which changed my Old ill ideology. Their attitude made me to conclude that I will never redeploy even though there pressure to redeploy. During the 3 weeks Orientation Camp, we were made to Team up with people from different ethic ideology for Parade, dancing, drama presentations, football and volleyball competitions. These activities helped in uniting us better. At the end of the Orientation Camp I was posted to Nyimu Academy Graba Chede Bali L.G.A Taraba State for my PPA (Place of Primary Assignment) where I experienced a home away from home. The host community was hospitable, loving and caring. Towards my POP (Passing Out Parade) date, my neighbours, students and employer were in sober mood like people who lost their love one all because my services year is coming to an end. The Host community organized a Farewell Football match for my sake. At the end of my service year I discovered that “Love knows no boundary”.

Cooperate work place Experience: Prior to my service year, I haven’t worked in a cooperate organization. In the course of my service year as I was posted as a Mathematics teacher in Secondary School. On getting to the School, the Principal detailed the Do(s) and Don’t(s) of the school management and the Penalty attached to going against any of the rules which is to deny me a clearance form for that month. This made me to brace up. I learnt and developed many office skills such as strategic planning and scheduling skills, time management skills, critical thinking skills Quick learning skills, detail oriented and Organizational Politics. My place of primary assignment broadened my horizon about life and prepared me to the outer world.

Avenue to Reach out to the society through the community development services (CDs): Collective responsibility which geared to the impacting of the larger community was the sole aim of this program. As I was part of the health and safety Group of the CDs, I was able to learn, relearn and to impact practical knowledge to the larger society. It gave me an avenue to interact with people of high and low places of life. Going to the market places, government and private offices, workshops, schools to teach and impact knowledge. This helped me to develop passion for selfless service.

Self Development: In this fast evolving world, the search for men of achievement and outstanding is unending. NYSC gave me the opportunity to harness some of the skills and talents in me which has given me and aid to thrive successfully in my carrier. During SAED (Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development) training in camp, I joined the construction group which I was taught how to construct a water fountain. This was one of the practical experiences I have ever longed to learn and witness its construction. I furthered training during my service year in order to perfect my experience in it. After my service year, it was one of the first jobs I was contracted to do for a Client.

Building and Sustaining Right Attitude: Do you know you are a Corp Member? This is one of the questions that guided me during my service years. “What you consistently do becomes part of you”. As we were instructed never to indulge in any act or activity that will tarnish the good image of NYSC, this immortalized in my subconscious mind. It helped in guiding my words and actions anywhere I found myself. Forestalling peace and Unity which is among the core values of NYSC became like me personal responsibility in my day to day life.

Adaptability and boundaries: I have ever live where 99% of people around me have the same cultural and religious background. Here I come where I can’t see someone who will understand my language at ease, where people around me don’t believe nor understand my religious beliefs. This has made me to always think of every of my words and actions if it will go well with the person(s) around me. NYSC taught me to happily correlate with people from different sphere of life. “I nakwana ,yaya kake? Ya gida ka?. I am able to speak and understand Hausa Language today as a result of my integration with the people.

The impact of NYSC can’t be over emphasis in my life. It groomed me towards National and Communal, Emotional and Psychological, Economic, Educational and even Religious consciousness.
Do you know my mum was wearing my crested vest and face cap around the street with smiles enveloping her face when been called Mummy Corper.

My name is Ijeoma Chimaobi a native of Arochukwu Local Area in Abia State, Nigeria. A graduate of financial management technology, federal university of technology Owerri, Imo state. Currently a post graduate student of banking and finance, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike Abia State.

My journey to National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) started in the year 2017, after graduation, we have this notion them that if you have not serve or seen as a Corper you actually have not graduated from university, so this made us more eager especially me to go for NYSC. During my registration process I choose state like Borno, Adamawa, Benue and Anambra, finally when posting came out I was posted to Anambra, at first I wasn’t happy because I wanted to go to Benue but everybody around me saw it differently all were happy because I was posted to Anambra.

It all began that fateful day I left my home to the NYSC orientation camp at Umunya in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra, I arrived at the camp, I was welcome with what I saw as punishment, I was asked to carry my logged on my head and walk in, that was a horrible experience. After that registration started, I was meant to stand in line for every process I meant to undergo which I didn’t succeed on the first day. The second days I have to try and finished up my registration processes get my kits and join others in parade.
The life in NYSC camp started properly when I have received my kits was made to address up with white and white and then I was addressed by NYSC camp officials and military as prospective Corp member. We were meant to been the parade ground at exact 4:45am every morning, which will start up our day with morning devotion after that follows man-o-war drills before the military drills properly. This activities continue for like three to four days until will are fully inducted our names changes from prospective Corp members to Corp Members and during the occasion will appeared on our 6/7 wears which is popularly known as ceremony wears.

Another phase of camp life started immediately after our induction, different activities was added to our normal camp routine which will normally know, that includes; skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development (SAED), football competition, volley ball, drama, dancing and night life shows. All Corpers was shared in to platoons, I belong to platoon one. Inter-platoon competition started, we all started to enjoy the camp, at first more especially the first week in the camp it was not funny at all, the military weren’t friendly, they have to subject us in different military parade which will are not used to, so will saw it as a great punishment coming from a background of a civilian. In the camp our lives was controlled by both the NYSC officials and the military, they decide when you eat, bath or even sleep, that didn’t go well with me because I never lived a boarding school life.

Going forward, the camp became interesting, military became friendly and other activities made the camp enjoyable, I won’t fail to mention the new friends I meant in the camp, we all got integrated and live our normal lives thereafter. During the football competition I was the coach of my platoon, which will took third in the competition. I enjoyed my camp fire night and our carnival day. They is a night during my NYSC days which I can’t lose the memory in a hurry, which was the day the fire alarm sounded, and will were told anytime will hear that alarm you are expected to run out to the parade ground the way you are, seriously it was not funny that night. That particular fire alarm sounded at 12mid night, you need see how corpers were running out from their hotels both the ones half naked even some have to sustained injuries, that night was not actually funny, those that failed to meet up the parade ground on time were punished.

Gradually, the camping started coming to an end and will started wishing that the camp never ended. That fateful day came when we all are meant to leave the camp to our various PPA (primary place of Assignment). We all collected our posting letter; I was posted to Agulari in Anambra East the Governor’s home town in a school called Fr. Joe memorial high school. In the camp the school sent a driver with the school bus to come and pick all the Corp members posted to the school. On our way to the local government council the old Corpers started sharing their experiences about the environment, what will should do and what will shouldn’t do. We arrived at the council, we were welcomed by the old Corpers and some staffs, after a brief meeting with our local Government inspector popularly known as LI, we all departed to our various PPA.

Another phase of my NYSC life, started immediately I arrived at my PPA which happens to Fr. Joe Memorial High School Agulari which was managed by catholic priest named Rev Fr, Izuu Okoye, very lovely and friendly catholic priest, him welcomed us and promise to make our days with them memorable which him actually did. The school happened to be a boy’s school which runs both boarding and day student. The students were so stubborn that it was only the Rev Father they were scared of no other person. Going forward, duties were shared among the new Corpers, the Rev father ask me to carry out a special duty as a disciplinarian, which was one of my most challenge duty handle, but at end of the day the school was put in the right shape, I was loved and respected by everybody in school because of my achievement in the school.
The students have to name me “iron blender” because my show of force. My sport life was not left too because the Rev Father was a football lover so every evening will all both the corpers, students and some priest are always in field playing football.
Finally, my NYSC experience was a good one, was able to make friends from other regions, integrate with them, and build a long lasting relationship. I won’t fail to mention experience gain. During my NYSC days I was able to work as INEC ADHOC staff, both on CVR (continuous voter’s registration) and also November 2017 Governorship election. My staying in Anambra and Nysc in general was a good memory which I would love to have again.

I must confess that the NYSC has become the melting pot of all that is good, beautiful and endearing about this largest black nation on Earth- Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration needs to be applauded for Sustaining this unimpeachable legacy of national integration and unity which NYSC is in form, structure and orientation.

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and one time National commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.

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