I woke up with a start. Impatience was my middle name and forte. I had barely slept during the night, the rush of adrenaline was just too powerful, I was pumped as I was when got to the Ibis hotel and couldn’t sleep. This was way different though, but my excitement was palpable.
I got prepped and waited on Deji to get ready. D1 had gone to make certain the car was good to go and his wife was urging us to leave the apartment and go to the car. I needed no urging, I could barely contain myself. I was going to be a guest of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the next three weeks, and I was ambivalent as to my expectations.
We got to the NYSC Orientation camp before 7am on the 5th July 2011, Derayo had driven Deji and I. We strolled through the gates not knowing that we had voluntarily signed up for a three week jail-term. And that all the stories we had heard about how wonderful NYSC camps were, were absolute shams. We were about to find out first hand how much the Government valued us.
First we had to queue, males on one line; females on the other. After a while, we were asked to grab chairs and we were addressed by an impressive official. I don’t entirely recollect what she said, or what her name was. I do know though, that she made an impression and I fell in love with her instantly (not the amorous kinda love dudes, stay afloat).
After that mini induction, we were asked to resume our queues for room and bunk assignments. Trust Nigerians, disorderliness soon crept in. The wannabe soldiers (they weren’t really from the army) assigned to organize us soon found their hands full and so we had our first round of free entertainment.
After a couple of hours pushing and shoving, we finally made the cut, left the queue and got assigned rooms. I got a room with Gbolahan and Opeyemi, coursemates of mine from school. We dropped our bags, marked our bunks, then went downstairs to register with our presence with the scheme. By the way I got MH 44.
Back at the parade ground, we made one eeny weeny mistake. We felt the wheels in NYSC would roll differently from the dysfunction we had come from, so we sat patiently under the sun waiting to get a certificate slip and to go register and get a state code. We were there for hours and those who got to camp at 11am got registered before us, because they understood, in Naija you gotta be ready to hustle.
I didn’t get into the registration hall till past three pm. After potential Corps members like myself had pushed the door to the hall so hard the glass shattered. It was then that Ayo (a statistic major from school) told me that instead of queuing, there was a back entry into the place. I went with him and got a move on after several hours of waiting. I was about getting my photo snapped and getting my state code when we were all convened at the parade ground, again!
At first we thought it was due to the fact that we had been unruly enough to break a door. Turned out, it was just another introductory speech. This time we were introduced to the camp director, Mrs Belinda Faniyi; the camp commandant, captain mohammed (I think I might have forgotten his name shawks) and the NYSC state coordinator Mr Laniyan (at the time, I had problems remembering his name, still do) who asked us to address him as Igwe. He was really amiable and all, but at the time, my blackberry’s battery had died so I went to charge at a vendor’s and thus missed a substantial part of the speech. That ceremony ran too long, and as if to save us from the monotony of endless speeches, the heavens let up and we were dispersed.
It rained for a couple of hours and when it subsided, like a real trooper, I was back at the registration hall. This time, it went a little easier and I got my state code which I won’t disclose for obvious reasons (bite me :p) but couldn’t get my kit that night due to the fact that the official in charge had decided to call it a night. I went back to my room after being conscripted to carry the kits bag to the officials lodge.
I went back to my room tired, hungry and cold. The excitement still burned, and the novelty hadn’t washed away. I was told there was food at the kitchen, so I went there and got food. I’d managed to eat just once during the day and that was around 4pm. Day 1 did not go exactly as I had seen it in my head, the FGN was loosing points. I hoped, they would recover and score cool points from day 2.