Saturday, 20 November 2010

ARRIVAL

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

ARRIVAL

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.

HOSTEL ATTENDANTS

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.

video

4 comments:

  1. Payme: Love this!..Read it wiv ma mum...too much jokes..he he..u r gna write a book sumday(not necessarily NYSC book o..but luvd readin dis loads..)

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  2. which of the camps were you pls??

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  3. aww payme - thanks ..lol.

    @ mojirade - I was posted to lagos but all foreign students posted to lagos for service were sent to camp at Iseyin, Oyo State, since there wasn't enough space at Lagos camp. So about 450 foreign students were taken to Oyo to mix with the 2,000 Oyo corpers there.

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  4. I SO NEEDED THIS! Coming from abroad and listening to all the tales makes one shiver. But someone you have made the experienced very realistic and at the same time swallowable. Had loads of laughs reading out loud to my parents! Haha

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