Primary Education is a realm, Secondary Education is another different realm, the Higher institution is another different world altogether and finally, NYSC is another completely different World. Through sharing my experience will give you a clue to Youth service life but this will not take the place of your personal experience.
Taraba State was one of the states I least expected to serve in. It was my Third Choice. I choose Taraba because it was the best alternative to the far North options presented to me.
But before my registration, I had made up my mind not to do two things: one was never to reject wherever I was posted to and two not to be carried away by ungodly relationships. Yes, this was my stand.
I had no option other than to accept my posting. Even in camp, I refused to apply for redeployment though it would have been done through forgery.
Life in Camp
Registration in camp was slated to start from the 21st of November, 2018. I travelled from Cross River to Taraba Camp. It was a smooth ride but one thing was the problem. The driver told us so many unending terrible stories about Taraba state.
His stories did not finish till we alighted. Came to find out these stories were true. There were some areas along the road that had been trodden down by violence. I held on and prepared my mind for the worst.
I successfully registered, got my bed space, and met a few of my roommates. Staying in the hostel was quite interesting. This was the first time in my life to stay in a hostel that long (21 days).
I’ve never cherished life in the hostel. I was thinking about how to cope. I prayed that I shouldn’t be kept together with a smoker. It happened that way. My 21 days with my camp roommates were very exciting that we all wanted to serve in the same PPA which didn’t turn out to be so. We were so nice to one another.
The camp experience was quite exciting, sometimes challenging and sometimes boring. The camp was like a semi prison. Nobody goes out until the 21 days elapses. One of the challenges I faced was to bathe very early in the morning in the cold with very cold water. It was harmattan season.
We only put on shorts and a T-shirt no matter the cold. It turned out that as the morning broke further the cold increases to an unbearable level. This alone made me seriously sick towards the end of my stay.
I enjoyed all the training given to us by the soldiers. It was a preparatory ground. The parade was one of the activities that caught my fancy.
The confusion that comes to corp members after a command was given was quite ridiculous. Like removing headdresses and replacing them, matching and our commander had a protruded stomach. It was all fun.
I was in the football group though did not participate. Saed lectures were one of the most boring aspects in camp. You have to sit from 9:00 AM to 2 PM. In this lecture, many people did sleep a lot and I wasn’t an exception. The only part in the Saed that was catchy to me was the practical aspect. I joined Agro-Allied Saed. I learned so much from there.
I Enjoyed every bit of SDG activities in camp though I was posted to the Interior region I could not continue with the CDs group. We had so many exciting presentations and public speaking which I love so much.
Yes. The camp experience isn’t complete without talking about food. We ate three times a day but the food was an apology. We went out with our flask whenever the bugle was blown.
There’s a specific tone for food. When the bugle is blown, corps members from all nooks and crannies will be running to queue up in their respective platoons for food. The impatient ones will always want to be at the front irrespective of the time they came.
Since their food could not sustain me couple with the rigorous training we usually had, I supplemented my diet by patronising the mami market. This was a small market where food articles, drinks, and other things relevant to Corps members were sold. This was also a place where most guys go to spend all their money.
At the end of the camping, I was so sick with symptoms of malaria and typhoid that I had to manage myself until I got home and was treated. I was posted to Chanchanji. I made my way to my Ppa finished my documentation and left for the Christmas holiday.
Life in my Place of Primary Assignment
In my Ppa, I was still faced with a cold challenge because the accommodation provided had no ceiling initially and windows were just covered with a net.
Well, I had no option than to accept it and move forward. My PPA was GDSS Chanchanji. No allowance was paid to us except the Federal Government 19800.
They already had a chemistry teacher so I opted to teach ICT. I taught ICT in Jss1 ( A and B) and Jss3 ( A, B & C). One of the major challenges I had was that 98% of them could not read. Some didn’t know how to spell their names. This wasn’t a problem in the JSS classes only, it was a general problem irrespective of the class.
Because of this, I took it upon myself to teach these students how to read free of charge before going into my normal lesson and it turned out to be very rewarding. At the end of my service, about 70% of my students knew how to read.
I engaged in an extra lesson in another private school but was paid peanut to teach Chemistry from Ss1 -2 and Basic Science from Jss1 -3. Guess how much I was paid…. 3k. I trek to this 1.5 place twice a week. Well, teaching was quite fun to me especially Chemistry.
On the day of my departure, my students saw me coming. They began to frown. Well, They didn’t see me coming but they saw another Chemistry wahala coming. Well, I smiled and said in my mind ” I wish they knew what I wanted to tell them”.
When I broke the news, they felt like crying… They asked me if the next person will be like me… That’s what I couldn’t answer. Students are funny, they could be stubborn and yet they have you at heart.
Water is scarce in this area. The natives of this area do drink some coloured water fetched from the stream. So sachet water was my drinking water until the rainy season where the boreholes had water.
Mobile toilet(bush) was the homestay of this area. It was easier in the dry season than the rainy season. Sometimes you have to walk almost a kilometre to get a comfortable place to defaecate because most close by lands has been used for farming.
Since I couldn’t make money through extra lessons I embarked on a small-scale groundnut farm. I didn’t want to be idle. I didn’t make it as suppose as the yield turned out to be discouraging though I still got back my capital and a little left as profit.
Chanchanji is a community populated by both Jekun and Tiv tribes. Indigenes of this community have the advantage of learning three dialects ( Hausa, jekun, and Tiv).
My Colleagues in the same PPA
My stay with four other colleagues of mine was exciting. I started learning how to play the bass guitar from Corper Friday Ezekiel. Initially, I wanted to learn Hausa from him but diverted and got carried away when he played the guitar.
I started serious lessons in my leisure time and eventually bought my box guitar. That was how I learned how to play the bass guitar. He usually helps out whenever the need to communicate in Hausa arose.
We all did things in unison. We were an Inspiration to one another. One of them was Anastacia. She was a business incline and hard working. She inspired me too to go on the groundnut farm. Through her, I was inspired to enrol in the Chartered Institute of Customer Relationship Management.
Abah Gabriel another nice fellow, will always want to help out irrespective of the inconveniences. We talked a lot, shared jokes, and advised one another. From him, I learned how to relate perfectly well with a neighbour. His philosophy has high esteem for neighbours.
We had the same vision of teaching our students how to read. He taught ICT too in Jss2 ( A & B). He always made things easier for us especially as he was TIV by tribe. He usually will liaise with the indigenes in the TIV language.
Life would have been much harder without his presence. We together fought the use of vernacular in the school we served. Our coming to that school revolutionised everything. Indolent teachers became up and doing.
James Blessing was another nice neighbour a colleague in the same PPA was also fun to be with.
My Christian Life
My Christian life was not deterred. I enjoyed my stay with the body of believers over there. My church was about 45km from my PPA. I go there every Sunday because of security reasons and logistics. Pastor Gabriel was like a dad and a friend. He always helped in paying my way back which was a very strong backup for me. He is an exceptional preacher with an exemplary life. I’ve seen God vindicate his ministry countless times. His wife was very humble and welcoming. So was the church too.
The challenges I faced
Staying in the rural areas too can prone one to getting as many sex partners as possible because they take corpers at very high esteem but I wasn’t interested in any. I lived my life singly till I passed out.
You must have wondered how good this place was. Well, it isn’t as good as you think but my attitude was what kept me throughout my stay.
The area was a no-go area at night. Chanchanji has a large market where yams, groundnut, and Bambara nuts are sold. Because of this, every market day, fleets of trailers come in to buy these goods.
This also attracted heavily armed robbers to the area. They usually will rob the traders in the market in the afternoon. Though soldiers were deployed to the area, traders keep losing their hard earn monies to these daredevils. I usually did not move around anyhow especially at night.
Kidnapping was on the very high side. A politician was killed after he was kidnapped, the same thing with some big shots in the area. The life of one of our corps members was one time threatened because she refused to mingle with the people of the area.
I witness strange things like people having a demonic seizure. When this happens those involved will be barking like dogs. They become extra powerful that even four strong men will find it difficult to pin them down.
When one person starts it, another person that has it continues and it goes on like a network. It has severely disrupted lessons in my extra Ppa. This happens only to females. Despite all this, I still go there to teach.
I had accidents twice but God kept me saved.
I was a Presiding Officer in a State constituency bye-Election
I told you earlier how a politician was killed by kidnappers. He was a speaker in Takum State constituency. This led to a by-election for the State constituency. Corpers were heavily involved. I happened to be one of the Presiding officers in one of the Ward in Chanchanji. This PO work wasn’t easy for me. I did not sleep well for two good days just to prepare materials for the election. I was running away from it but it fell on my lot. Well, I used wisdom and did what the people wanted me to do but refused to collect their money. In the end, we were appreciated with a little token. The area would have been tensed up but I managed to control the situation with the support of my teammates. After submission in the Registration Area Centre, I ran like a mad dog home because the area couldn’t contain us. There were gunshots all over the place but I thank God I arrived home safely.
From this bye-election, I learned that no man with clean hands goes into politics. It is a dirty game. Even if you had good intentions the pressure will make you succumb. I learned that there’s no difference between APC and PDP. They are only under different umbrellas.
The next day was when I had a terrible accident but came out unhurt. The cyclist who took me sustained a very deep injury that his bones were visible. God delivered me and I’m forever grateful to him.
Also, four days before my passing out, I narrowly escaped an arm robbery attack while coming back from church. We were just coming when about six guys masked jumped into the road.
They were so close. The driver used his reverse gear and one of them was pursuing our car until he gave up.
We later turned and went about 3km. We waited for 30 mins and then came back and passed
Since I wasn’t the going out type coupled with the security challenge in the area, My box guitar was my closest friend. There was no electricity and poor network coverage. We charged our phones in public charging centres. I couldn’t use my laptop since there was no electricity. I didn’t give up on my blogging career. I was blogging with my phone. This lengthy narrative essay was typed on my phone.
I’m so thankful that God kept me throughout my stay and I left unhurt.
There are so many stories time will fail me to capture. I used to imagine myself as being fearful but after this experience, I don’t see myself that way.
I can live anywhere in the world. With a made-up mind, you can go anywhere.