Saturday, 9 November 2013

The NYSC Orientation Camp Diary of a Corper - Part II

I joined Orientation Broadcast Service (OBS), the radio house of the Camp. OBS opened me to a whole new world of broadcasting. News compiling, editing, including all the technicalities of broadcasting in that small community called Orientation Camp. Going from end-to-end trying to get news details and reporting in the office for other assignments wasn’t a small task. In no time, I became the Welfare Head of the OBS. Additional responsibility, but that seems to be a familiar terrain for me, hence I flourished easily in that capacity. Many joined OBS for several reasons ranging from parade and drilling abstinence, posting opportunities, redeployment offers, etc, well, I joined because I wanted to contribute my quota to the success of the Orientation Camp beyond the limitations of platoon presentations and competitions. In my sojourn in OBS, I sent a couple of shout-outs to UItes home and abroad. Soon, I made friends first in OBS, in my platoon and then in fellowship.
One major programme of the Orientation Camp I detested was the Seminars and Skill Acquisition. It just bores me…and at this juncture, I must give my deepest appreciation to MTN Nigeria, network always so effective in the hall…so Corpers just PING their way all through the talk sessions. As an OBS member, I was always at the technical stand, so I get to charge my phones as I enjoy the social network applications on my berry. Lectures ends 2pm and God help you if your food flask is not nearby to get your lunch instantly, you’ll have to queue for a long time not forgetting evening parade commences by 4pm (without stories). Evening parade is always 3hours. i.e. 4pm till 7pm. Fellowship starts 7pm daily, so immediately you collect your food (dinner), it’s straight to fellowship. When I say fellowship, I mean NCCF. There are only 3 bodies permitted on Camp. They are NCCF, NACC and MCAN. NACC is the acronym for Nigerian Association of Catholic Corpers. MCAN is the acronym for Muslim Corpers Association of Nigeria. NCCF, is the interdenominational body of Christian Corpers on the Camp. So wherever denomination you belong to, forget about it for that one year and let’s unite the body of Christ as the Christian Corpers that we are. Having everything in common and doing everything in unity in obedience to Christ. This became the daily routine for everyone. But just when boredom began to set in, things took a different turn.
Going into the second week, platoon presentations and competitions started. Well, I wasn’t so interested in the dance, the fashion, Miss this, Miss that, Mr. this, Mr. that…I was only interested in a few things, Football and Cooking Competition. My platoon was not a star-studded platoon so we had to fight our way through to the finals. Unity was the key! We played as a team with yours truly scoring some vital and important goals to push the team into the final. Well, we were pimped to the trophy by a goal scored from a controversially awarded penalty. It was heart-breaking but I took consolation in a call-up into the state NYSC football team. Why my Dad didn’t allow me engage fully in soccer while I was growing up, still beats me. In the cooking competition, my platoon came first. We cooked one kind of rice called “Tanzanian Rice”. When a lady in my platoon suggested that stuff, I felt like slapping her. After cooking the food and the general food for the platoon which was ofcourse Jollof-rice, in annoyance and shame, I left the venue before the judges came in. I couldn’t stay to see the look on the faces of the judges when they see and taste what a whole platoon is presenting in a competition (Tanzanian Rice). It was therefore a surprise to me when I woke up the next morning to the news that my platoon had won the cooking competition.
While I was popular as an OBS member and also in my platoon, I was the gentle lad in fellowship, sneaking in and sneaking out immediately service ends. The only unit I joined was Drama, probably because of the Creative Thinkers (the drama unit of my fellowship, WCF on campus during undergraduate days) influence. I loved our rehearsals, it’s always fun and intriguing. Our ministrations were always power-packed. I just didn’t want to be noticed especially as I was running away from leadership positions (I needed rest and a break from those, I thought to myself). It was a surprise to me when I was summoned for an interview. I deliberately came in my soccer boots and jersey for the interview to serve as discouragement. I tried as much as I could to be polite during the interview and after the session, I felt I had escaped.
I was dumbfounded and astonished therefore when my name was called up amongst the Central Executives of the Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship, Katsina State Chapter on the last Sunday on camp. During the introduction, I had to ask again what office I was called out for…and was told it’s General Secretary. When opportunity to serve God comes, I grab it with both hands, I know what happened to Jonah, I don’t want part II of that.
On the final night on Camp, at the variety night in fellowship, we were served chilled Tea and biscuits. At this point, we all had forgotten how good tea tastes due to the error we had been served for the past 3weeks. The Tea served was very cold and tasted so good that even in my calm and quiet attitude, I drank like 4cups…now imagine how many cups other active corp members drank. Returning to my room that night, it was shouts and disturbance in the hostels. Anxiety as regards posting and eagerness to leave the orientation camp and start exploring wouldn’t allow you sleep. As early as 2am, Corpers had started returning their mattresses and dressing up in preparation for passing out parade. We eventually finished parade around 12noon and posting letters were distributed. Surprise, intrigue, fear of the unknown, joy, tears…those were the expressions I read on the faces of the individuals as they collected their posting letters. I smiled when I saw mine. I was posted to a private establishment in Katsina town. Some of my friends relocated, some into villages and towns and others into ministries. Goodbyes are always hard to say…but we just had to depart. We said our goodbyes and headed in our different directions.
Orientation Camp was fun and intriguing. Actually a lot went down in those 21days within the walls of that Orientation Camp, language classes which we made fun of, swearing in and passing out ceremonies where the Governor never showed up, the Director General’s visit to our camp and the anticipation of his N38,000 allowance increase announcement, bicycle and transport allowances (N1500 and N1000 naira respectively), the fights on the queues. Not forgetting the first allowee (N19,800) paid a few days to the end of the Orientation Camp which Corpers lavished on wholesome meals at the Mami market and some friends exhausted over the weekend.
All in all, Orientation  Camp was interesting, fun and eye-opening, making friends with soldiers and military men. Did I mention we contributed a huge sum of money in my platoon and after doing all we planned and set out to do, we had like N24,000 left. Whatever happened to that money??? *PicksUpPhoneDialingPlatoonLeaders’Number*…I’ll be back!