Wednesday, 24 November 2010



I did promise in my last post to share my list of things to bring to camp. Let’s start on these first:

- Mosquito net- it’s cheaper and easier to get them here in Nigeria. If you’re getting a treated net, listen to these pearls of wisdom. Make sure you SPREAD IT OUT for about 2 days before you leave for camp. A lot of us didn’t read the instructions that came with the nets and we didn’t spread outside before using at camp. People had face rashes, itchy eyes, etc. As for me I was feeling dizzy inside the net so I had to remove it and wash the next day to reduce the strength of the chemicals. Treated nets are always better because they are like sort of repellents, and should repel bed bugs (in case there are bugs around, LOL, I know!).

- Insect repellent cream or spray (you can get from Boots if you’re in the UK). If your camp is like mine where you sit under trees for lectures, activities, etc, organisms will love your ‘abroad’ blood and suck it well. Repellents will keep them away, even mosquitoes. Buy ones that will last for hours so you can use from start of day.

- Baygon spray or any equivalent insect sprays will also come in handy.

- DRUGS – not illegal stuff oh. I’m referring to Paracetamol, Ibuprofen etc. Then IMODIUM. Trust me. Using that latrine 3-5 times a day is not cool. You’re changing environments so there’s a good chance you might purge after feasting on camp or mammy market food. Please, please, please don’t go to camp without Imodium especially if you have sensitive tummy. Imodium was like gold after flagil wasn’t working for me. I had to pay like 1k at the camp clinic for a staff member to buy a pack for me from a pharmacy outside the camp. You might not even need it in the end but it’s better to be prepared for eventualities.

- Bath pack, personal hygiene pack, bath slippers and DETTOL, the big family-size bottle. Talking about bath packs, I advise that you use soaps, and not these liquid, moisturising ones like DOVE. This is just a personal preference though! The reason for this is, those liquid bath wash things we use in colder climates are meant to moisturise your skin. In hotter climates like Nigeria, you don’t need your bath things to moisturise you. You need something to keep you dry and prevent sweating. At camp you will be doing physical activities, getting punished by soldiers by squatting (lol), etc. You will be in the sun most of the time. You will sweat and sweat. So I discovered using soaps kept me drier than my good old DOVE body wash. Sometimes you won’t even need to use body cream. Most times I just sprayed my insect repellent on my hands and legs after bath. Body creams will make you sweat a lot. Don’t forget the deodorants too, they’ll keep you dry.

- Bucket – you can always get this from the camp market from around 400 naira.

- Bed Pack – pillows (if you must use one), pillow case, blanket, bed sheet and cover cloth. This is my advice: buy a blanket and wrap it around your mattress. After this then spread your bed sheet over it. I advise this because you don’t know where that mattress has been. Seriously. Don’t take chances. Maybe I’m being extra...but prevention is better than cure.

- Food Flask and Cutlery – if you prefer camp food to mammy market food. Very unlikely though.

- ‘Provision’ – maybe just cereal and milk...but you most probably wouldn’t even need to bring them from home. Mammy market has it all.

- Your White Shorts, T-shirts and white tennis– people brought their whites from home and you’ll be glad you did! The NYSC ones are not the best. I got my shorts from Sports World (Umbro ladies’ white shorts) and white ladies’ fitting t-shirts from Primark (like £2/£3 each). White Tennis is around £2 at Primark

- Waist Pouch – this is where you will put all your important stuff such as money, phone, etc. Your pouch will become your BFF in those 3weeks. You will eat and sleep together, go to the bathroom together, etc.

- Torch / Flash light – another Best Friend. You will go to the 2am latrine rounds together. Also when your camp booboo sees you off to your hostel, your torchlight will guide your way.

- Passport Pictures – you will need these in camp so take 12 with you to be on the safe side. You can take passport pictures at the photographers’ shops in mammy market in case you forget. But you will pay more because they know you need it desperately.

- Important Documents – such as your call up letter, international passport, school results, etc. Basically all the documents you took with you when you went to register at Abuja. Most people made sure they gave these back to their drivers or parents to take back home after they finished registration. You don’t want to risk keeping them in your room. If you go to camp in public transport and have no one to take the docs home for you, then keep them well in your waist pouch, never in your box.

- CV – I didn’t need to take this with me but some people did. Sometimes employers go into camps and recruit a few lucky ones. You could have one or two copies of your CV folded into your pouch so that if you see an employer you can hand it to them.

- 2 mufti clothes and shoes or sandals for Sunday. You can bring more clothes if you want to contest in the beauty pageants.

- Hangers – to hang your underwear or little garments by your bunk when you wash them.

- LADIES: try as much as possible to bring black underwear so as to avoid any unwanted transparencies. Your white tees and shorts are like a see-through. Not everyone wants to see your pink victoria secret bra and pants combo on parade ground.

- Money – the amount you need depends largely on your lifestyle. Just make sure you go with more than enough, just in case of anything. I would advise a minimum of N25k for the 3weeks. Apart from feeding, you will need money to adjust your oversized khakis or buy new ones in camp market, and for a host of other things. On camp you will be given money by the government three times. First is given around the first week and it’s N1,500 for transport reimbursement or something. Then in the second week you get another N1,000. Then in the final week, a day or two before you leave camp, you get your “alawi” (allowee, i.e., monthly allowance as a corper), which for now is about N9,750 or so. That will be your monthly salary from NYSC for the next one year. No, it’s not a joke.


To this day I don’t know why NYSC camp markets are popularly referred to as ‘mammy market’.

Mammy market has ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING you need to survive in camp. They sell food (rice, indomie made in front of you, yam, eggs, bread, jollof, real pounded yam, eba, amala, egusi, ogbono, affang, suya, peppersoup, etc). They also have tailors, shoemakers, hairdressers/nails stands, phone chargers, photographers, videographers, etc.

Prices will depend on which state you camp in – for example, Lagos rates will be higher compared to Osun or Kano. 2 pounded yam wraps and egusi with serious meats cost only 300naira at my camp (yup... an equivalent of £1.50ish)!

Then there was this area my friends and I used to call “Sodom and Gomorrah” in the market. LOL. It was the beer, cigarette, palmy (palm wine) and everything-you-can-imagine joint, usually intentionally poorly-lit with banging loud music. We gave that area of the market the name because it sometimes got too rough at night, so much so that we tried to stay away. One night we saw lap-dancing! People that didn’t like that side of the market got their Smirnoffs from other more reasonable drinks kiosks.

The market is usually in the camp compound, in a separate area. It's not like it's outside or anything. Once you are in that huge camp compound, that's your confinement for the next 3weeks.

In case I have left out anything from that list, you can get it at mammy market.


Before ending this post, I need to talk about the rooms. There are different kinds of rooms – e.g. some rooms are like corridors, with over 150 people crammed into them, while some are small like a snail shell with 20 people packed in there like sardines. The latter was my type of room. Small room with 10 bunks for 20 people expected to breathe into each other’s nostrils for 3weeks. Look below at pictures of my room. The second picture was taken when my bunk collapsed one morning! Thank God no one was under when it happened. Seriously, it's a lovely, funny experience. At first I was mad and started ranting about health and safety. But now my ex-roomies and I just laugh about it every time we remember how it happened. It was like slow motion. LOL!


You’ve probably heard a lot of people arguing which is best. A lot of people say the top bunk is the best, especially if you are extra finicky and don’t like people sitting on your bed anyhow. But again you will have more challenges setting up your mosquito net, and dressing up. In my room there was practically no space for anything. We used to move between bunks by walking sideways and squeezing through. Yeah.

If you choose a lower bunk, it’s easier for you to tie your mosquito net. You’re also freer than the person on the top bunk and dress up more easily. But all and sundry will arrive on your bed during gist time.

So, verdict is, choose whichever one you want based on your preferences. I started off sleeping on the lower bunk but I had to move to an empty top bunk later because I was too close to the window and was inhaling all the cobweb and dust. I was also tired of strong wee-wee smells that greeted me by the window every morning.

Coming up in next post: Daily Schedule

The window I moved from!

after bunk collapsed!

before bunk collapsed....see how crammed the room is...

Night view of the entrance of mammy market.

Saturday, 20 November 2010


Sorry this is coming a few days late. Been so busy! I’m sleepy so forgive any typos.


Make sure you arrive as early as you can, on the day you are expected to resume on camp. Soon you will understand why.

I would imagine that registration systems may be different from camp to camp but I will tell you the one I went through.

So you get to the camp gate, and do a mini registration – i.e. write your name, number, school attended etc and you are given a temporary number. This number is just for registration purposes and says who comes first – e.g. if you are 021 it means you’re the 21st person to arrive and you are next after they call 020.

Also at the gate you are given accommodation instructions etc. Then they check your bag for ‘contraband’ stuff. Basically you are not allowed to bring your entire house, you spoiled brat. Contraband items include sharp objects (knives, blades etc), iron, hair straightener, hair blow dryer, etc. Basically anything that will let you feel at home (in my opinion) is not allowed. So, after checking your bag, they seize all seizables and when your bag is good to go, you go quickly to the male or female hostel (depending on your gender) and find a good bed space. This is where you will ask one of the hostel attendants around to help carry your box/suitcase to your room (of course you will pay them!). Except you don’t mind trudging along with your lovely suitcase while the evil stones on the ground damage the tyres in 10seconds.

Then later you also go get yourself a good mattress. First come, first served. If you are fashionably late, you will sleep on a fashionably-torn, lice-infested mattress.


The thing is, throughout your time in camp, you may most likely need hostel attendants to wash your clothes for you, fetch your water, buy your food etc. So from the first day, it’s always better to use your intuition to find one that you will stick with throughout your stay, and get her number. You need the attendants to do stuff for you not because you are lazy or spoiled, but because:

- Hostel tanks sometimes don’t have enough water to go round everybody. So, people queue for water in the evening or early in the morning at 3am (yes 3am! Some people get up that early to bathe because the soldiers wake you at 4.30am-ish). If you are like me and prefer to have your bath after morning exercises (between 8am and 8.30am), you want to make your life easier by paying someone just 20naira to fetch you a bucket of fresh water that morning. My friends and I found that the water from tanks were brownish but those from the paid hostel attendants were from wells and cleaner. Either one you use just make sure you use serious DETTOL. It’s so funny how we just used to put extra strength Dettol to avoid any infections – about 3-5 caps full in a bucket! Paranoia.

- Apart from your underwear, it’s advisable to pay the attendants to wash your clothes for you throughout your stay because of two reasons. One, you can be rest assured that your clothes won’t be stolen. If you wash your stuff yourself and spread outside, the chances that you will meet them there when you get back is so slim. But these attendants keep an eye on the clothes they wash and will bring them to you neatly folded after drying. For each wash, it costs 70naira for 1 set of white top and shorts, and 50naira for your tennis. Not bad. Some of the attendants had good offers – such as, “Pay me N1,500 and I’ll wash your clothes and fetch you water throughout the 3weeks”. Also the rates may vary depending on which state you are posted to.

Second reason is, your day will be filled with activities and if you are really into everything, you may not have the time to wash yourself. Also the whole stress of fetching water etc aargh. These whites get dirty easily because you are there mostly for physical activities so would you have the time to wash every time?

Sorry I forgot to mention at the beginning that throughout your stay you will be wearing just white shorts and tops (except on Sundays, morning till 6pm). PS: I have become so traumatised by the daily whites; I don’t think I will be wearing white for a while :-s

ARRIVAL cont’d

After you’ve had your bunk and mattress, you leave your securely locked suitcase/bag/box on your bed and you make your way to the registration area. I remember making my way to the registration area by the parade ground when some random black soldier stopped me. I thought I was black until I saw blick. Like, he was past black. He was blick. “Hey! Where you dey go?”

Me: (I put on an accent) Sorry?

Soldier: I say where you dey go dey waka like you dey do fashion show?! See as e paint face sef. Come here!

Me: Huh?

Soldier: You no be corper? As long as you’re here you must double up. We no dey walk around here. You go jog. Understood? Oya jog to where you are going.

I started jogging wondering what the heck. I hadn’t even registered so at that point I wasn’t even a corper yet and I thought to myself, “I should’ve ignored those guys”. But good thing I didn’t argue with them. Popular NYSC wisdom has it that from first day, don’t even argue with the soldiers. Just do as they say and they’ll later become your friends. So add that to your tips book.

Anyway, next I looked for where to queue. Here I don’t intend to give you the full details so I won’t bore you. I will just highlight a few things that you need to keep in mind to make your registration process easier on you.

The issue with the registration process is, it’s a laborious process. They tried to make it an organised process but if you are coming from the Western world where you are so used to good planning and organisation, you could get very frustrated. So again, I advise that you go with an open mind and don’t expect everything to be the way they did it at your university. As I mentioned earlier, I can’t say this or that is how registration is done. It differs from state to state. A general tip here is: be sure you are on the right queue. The first issue is knowing where to queue. There are several queues and if you don’t ask questions, you may be standing for hours on the wrong queue. You queue according to the tally number given to you at the gate. Again the earlier you arrive, the better. At my camp the first step was to get your call up letter authenticated. Your call up letter is the letter that you go to collect from Abuja HQ (as a foreign graduate) a week before camp begins, and it tells you which state you have been posted to. Unfortunately many people fake these letters, so one of the first things you will do is to take your call up letter for UV / Mercury Light verification. After this you are given something called a ‘job list’. This is the list of all the processes you must go through to be fully registered. You must make sure that by the end of the registration process, all the stages are ticked by an official – he/she will make sure you have done all you need to do. Any omission can cause you big issues in the future, trust me. I’m getting into all this detail because they may not tell you all this. One thing that frustrates me about Nigeria (not just NYSC) is that most times no one guides you as to what to do. They just expect you to find your way around things. For instance, a lot of us went to the NYSC office today to sort out some issues but we were kept waiting for hours. It really would’ve cost them nothing if an official came out and addressed all of us in this manner: “Sorry Corp members, we are running a very busy schedule at the moment. Bear with us...Come back tomorrow...” etc. Something like that. But no. We were kept waiting not sure how long we would be there for. You then wait for hours and before you know it, they close for the day. No word, nothing. Waste of your whole day. ANYWAYS, I DIGRESS! As I was saying...job list.

Here is an example of what it looks like:

Stage 1- tally issuance at gate/entrance

Stage 2- Issuance of Counterfoil

Stage 3- UV light verification

Stage 4- Computer verification

Stage 5- Issuance of File with Code number

Stage 6- Verification of Corp Member completed file

Stage 7- Submission of verified files and collection of kits at the store (e.g. your khakis)

Stage 8- Allocation of rooms (they normally do this after stage 1; don’t know why it’s stage 8)

Stage 9- Completion of book of life subsequently on platoon basis

By the way, each stage is done at different locations on camp. So for example after completing stage 2, stage 3 may be at the opposite end of the registration area. Each time you are moving up and down basically. Most likely clueless.

Even though it all appears organised, no one directs you to the next area. You FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF by asking people. In fact, NYSC officials themselves misdirected me a few times on the day- which shows that some of them didn’t even know wasup themselves.

Are you tired of registration already from just reading? I wanted to get mad on the day but I couldn’t. Sometimes when we complain that Nigerian systems have long processes, we should remember that we all caused it. Lies and deceit have made organisations, public and private, to become so rigorous in their processes, much to our detriment through excessive time consumption and physical and mental stress. Gist for another day. I digress.

After all this you should be given your permanent 4-digit code number which will be your number for the year. The last number in the code is your platoon. For example, my code was 2016, so my platoon was 6. Basically there will be like over 2,000 corpers in your camp, so the only way to group you will be by platoons. There are usually 10 platoons with about 200+ in each platoon. You do everything by platoon – competitions, activities, etc. Apart from your roommates, your platoon peeps will be among your first few networks of friends.

So after you get your kit, you are supposed to go into your room and change immediately into your whites and then go on the field to learn parade stuffs. Funny enough registration seems to take around 2 days, so, many people who have registered do not bother to change into their whites until everybody has registered. People that did this avoided the parades under the scorching sun for those 2 days. I’d say stay somewhere in-between. For instance, I did change into whites on the first day but I took my time. Some over-zealots changed immediately they registered and by 12noon they were already in the sun getting shouted at by soldiers. Looking back it was hilarious watching them while I relaxed under the tree pretending to be an onlooker in mufti. About 25 of them. Look below you will see a little video of them. It's like 4 seconds basically, they're saying "punch!". At the word of command (e.g. preeeey-shun!), you say, "punch" as you punch your feet hard on the floor.

Oh I forgot to mention that after registration, you get your meal ticket as you get your NYSC kits (khaki trousers and top, 2 white t-shirts, 2 white shorts, 1 NYSC crested t-shirt, 1 pair jungle boots, 2 pairs of NYSC socks and 1 pair of white tennis). You need to present the ticket with your passport photo on it each time you queue for camp food. You probably wouldn’t need it, as I guarantee you will eat at the camp market (aka mamy market) all through your stay. Again, that’s another gist for another day.

As I said earlier you are expected to wear white t-shirt and shorts throughout your 3-week stay in camp except Sundays 6am-6pm. If you can, try your best to come with your own kit, except the NYSC crested shirt. This is because the Nigerian government does a one-size-fits-all strategy, I guess to save money. The shoes come in certain sizes. So they are either too big or too small. If you are lucky you might just find your exact size. In my green khaki I looked like I was thrown into an oversized Dangote rice sac. After one wash my white t-shirts had their mouths open. Thank God I brought extra from home! We spent an average of N1,200 adjusting the khakis at the camp market. I had to adjust mine twice, paying twice. At the end of the day I had to sew a new pair of trousers for about N1,500 at the camp market, clothing material inclusive. Wish I had done that earlier instead of readjusting.

There’s still so much to come! Ruminate on this while I write up the day-to-day life of camp. Also, I have a very comprehensive list of things to bring which I compiled prior to camp. I actually spoke to as many ex-corpers as I could, both foreign and Nigerian. So I took a bit here and a bit there and compiled my list. I’ll show you that in my next post.I will also try to add pictures and more videos in the coming posts.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


I was getting a lot of questions from friends about the whole NYSC thing so I decided to do a blog. Also before I left the UK most of my friends requested that I do a blog to update them on my experience. So here we go. I will try as much as possible to give you details of my experience and tips. As I go through the early phases of the service year, I have come to realise that ex-corpers have not been telling us the full story. So while it's still fresh in my head, let me tell you the real deal.

I was going to bore you with the definition of NYSC and all it entails. But I'll spare you. If you want to know more, just go to

Basically I want to focus more on foreign degree students or graduates who are thinking of going to Nigeria for this cause.

Why You Should Give it a Thought
  1. You can easily go back home to Nigeria at anytime to settle and work. If you finished school when you were under 30, you MUST do your NYSC service if you are to get any reputable employment offer in Nigeria now or in the future. The only way you can escape this is by coming to work in Nigeria as an expatriate of another country. So, find a multinational company to work for abroad and they may just happen to post you to Nigeria. Yeah right you wish! Even at that you know you would only be posted temporarily.
  2. My favourite reason: if you want to look beyond being a local champion in Europe or America (or wherever you are) and expand your future prospects and possibilities of public office appointments in and out of Nigeria by the Nigerian government, you should think about serving. Just imagine you in 10 years’ time. You have studied abroad and worked. You have been involved in ground-breaking research at Harvard or Oxford. Then one thing leads to another and your accompliments announce you to someone at Aso-Rock. You are recommended for the office of a Minister, possibly of Health. Then some opposition groups rise against you. They know you know your stuff. But the only thing they have against you is that you did not ‘serve’. Or they have proof that your cousin Rasaqi finished the service year for you and got allowances on your behalf. Then you say goodbye to the offer and go back to your white lab coats and geek goggles.

    Of course not everyone gives a toss about these things so if that’s not your thing, keep your lovely job and life abroad.

    But really, nothing stops you from serving for one year and going back to your base if you choose to.

  3. Building your contacts – again if you are planning to get involved in the future of Nigeria or play any serious roles on the scene, you need vital contacts. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not just talking about politics. Say you are planning to come and open your big boutique or start similar business venture, you could use your service year as an opportunity to build your vital contacts and learn more about Nigeria. Yeah you may have grown up in Nig but trust me, things are not where you left them.

  4. I know I've left this to the last reason but it's one of the most salient reasons. During your service year, regardless of where you are posted, you will have the opportunity of getting involved with a local government area where you can make a difference (something like charity work). Not only will this be great for your CV, you also get to mix with children and adults from poor backgrounds and impart something to their lives. You can start your own NGO and stuff like that. I met an impressive lady at camp who already had her idea of community work she would like to do during the year. I heard the government and NYSC can even support funds-wise.

Decision to ‘Serve’, the Right Attitude and Registration Process

To be honest, it’s not an easy decision to leave where you’re based abroad and decide you want to go home to ‘serve’ a country which, as many people say to me, hasn’t ‘served’ us well.

Moreso, you will agree that it must be tough for young people abroad who either have permanent residency visa, work permit visa or even naturalisation (dual nationality) to decide to leave their environment and go to Nigeria to ‘serve’.

But really it’s not as bad as people make it sound. Rather than harbouring the thoughts of servitude required of you, think of it as an opportunity to explore and tour the country. Use it as an opportunity to add to your CV that you worked abroad in Africa for one year (employers love it!). Take your camera (with care!) and take pictures of every stage of your NYSC journey. Make friends. Meet your future wifey or hubby (lol).

Looking at it all this way makes you enjoy the experience more. Don’t grumble or complain. When you see or go through anything that is appalling (such as having to do a ‘shot put’ in the bush by the latrine with your torchlight at 2.30am), just laugh it off. After all you are just like a tourist. You’re only in the camp for 3 weeks, not forever. Enjoy it.


If you are a foreign-trained graduate (i.e. you studied abroad), you go to the NYSC headquarters in Abuja to register (dates for this are announced on the NYSC website for each batch). You get to choose your preferred state of service. You fill out your first and second choice. Most likely you will choose Lagos and Abuja and it’s also most likely they’ll post you there. Nothing is guaranteed though.

The good thing about the registration is, it’s usually fairly straightforward to be honest. You can do it within 3-4 hours if you arrive early enough (say from 9am). Mine did take about 5hours because of my own fault. Basically the first name on my passport was different from that on my uni certificate. So, my middle name appeared as first name etc. E.g. if on your passport your name is “Eddie Fatai Murphy”, your cert should read those full names or simply “Eddie Murphy”, but never “Fatai Murphy”. Hope you got it.

Because of that little issue I had to go to Federal High Court to do an affidavit. YES. Lol. Naija peeps at NYSC HQ don’t joke with things like that. With the Naija blood in me I even tried using ‘long leg’ to avoid going to court but they insisted. Looking back it was so frustrating but now it’s funny. But anyways, the court was just opposite the NYSC office. It was a laborious process going to the court, making photocopies, waiting for the affidavit to be written etc. So, make sure you tell your uni to use the name on your passport on your certificate. And make sure there is consistency on your names from your GCSE or WAEC results to Uni certificate etc. Or else plan an affidavit journey into your itinerary. You pay around 200naira at the court, depending on who attends to you. They know you are JJC and your face is still fresh from ‘abroad’ so they may even say it’s 500naira or worse even more. You heard it now oh. It’s 200naira.

It’s always better to arrange a flight to Abuja if you’re not based there, and try see if any friend, family or foe can pick you up from the airport to the secretariat. Why? Because the cheapest taxi will cost you 4k naira one-way. Going back from the secretariat back to the airport could cost you less. Altogether prepare for at least 8k naira of taxi fare, to be safe. In my case, an old school friend of mine (whom I hadn’t seen in close to twelve years) arranged for his friend to pick me up. My point here is, build and rebuild your contacts. Use your Facebook. Find your old nursery 2 friend from Ogo Oluwa Grammar School. You never know when you will need their help, and they may need your help too. This Nigeria is funny. Little spending here and there and before you know it you’ve spent 10k in one day, when your monthly NYSC allowee is around N9,750. Even the highest you can expect to get paid monthly as a corper in the best companies is around 50k, and that’s if you’re really lucky or long-legged.

Also remember to photocopy aaaaaalllllll, absolutely alllll the documents you take with you. To be safe, do about 5 copies each. On the NYSC website they have a full list of what you are expected to bring to registration. They say 2 copies but do 5 or more to be safe! Walking up and down the Secretariat street doing extra photocopies in the sun and each time explaining why you are bouncing up and down to the soldiers at the gate is not fun at all. Take 12 passport photographs with you as well. Just to be safe. I didn’t know I would need one for my affidavit.

So after the whole process you wait for about 5weeks or so, and you go to Abuja again to collect your callup letter to find out which state you've been posted to.

In my next post I'll give you a comprehensive gist of camp life, including arrival, settling down, the registration process, the fun, the soldiers shenanigans, the collapse of my sleeping bunk, food timetable, daily timetable, mamy market etc.