NYSC: My Youth service adventure in Kaiama, Bayelsa State

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Nysc is a program every Nigerian undergraduate and graduate who is yet to be a part of, look forward to, but seen as insignificant and a waste of time after being a part of it, by some of us. My Nysc experience back in 2007/2008 is something that I can not deny it’s significance in my life.

If you are someone who happen to be used to trying something new, i assure you, nysc will offer you lots of such opportunities. It’s a fun thing to make good use of these opportunities at your beck and core. Although I can’t really boast of making use of every available opportunity during my youth service but I did convert some to useful experiences.

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Bayelsa State, if you remember, was never considered one of the safest state to travel or live, as at 2007 and 2008 when I served. The Ijaw militants, the oil company officials kidnappings, the vandalism and general violence was enough news to keep immigrants away from the state. The press made sure of that. But the untold story then, was the fact that most times the colour of the bottle don’t determine the taste of the content. Even at that time, in the mist of the crisis, corps members did find peace, friendliness and good stories to tell among the people of Bayelsa.

Getting the unexpected

After the Orientation Camp, I was posted to served in Kaiama, Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, the same community where The orientation camp is located. That is one thing any or let me say 95% of corps members will pray against. Everyone wanted to move out, see new places in Bayelsa, go to town (Kaiama, though considered a town ironically by the people,
is typically underdeveloped). I remember asking someone in Kaiama during camp how I could get to town and his reply was “na town you dey so eeh”, meaning you are very much in town right now. I never thought that after serving in camp as a platoon leader, I would be reduced to a primary assignment in the same-old Kaiama. I guess there is a lesson
to learn from that outcome. I mean, while all other corpers were having the best of fun in camp, I, among the ten platoon leaders, was working my butts out for Platoon 10 corps member and the nysc officials. But that was one of the best choice I made during my service year. There really was no direct reward attached to it, but no reward could surpass the leadership and people service experience. Well,that’s just another story on it’s own.

I got to know about my place of primary assignment two days before the passing out of orientation camp. At first it sounded like a blow up of everything to me. I mean, everyone around me were already counting me among the lucky ones (as a platoon leader) to get a favorable place of primary assignment and having to remain in Kaiama wouldn’t come as lucky to anyone. But surprisingly, I recieved the posting letter in good fate.

An employer who didn’t keep to his words.

I had to carry out my primary assignment at the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Council, in Kaiama where I was posted. I was ready to take whatever came from it, although it took most of my colleagues (about 18 of us)a hard time to get used to it. The Caretaker Committee Chairman then happened to be our employer and, like most other Ajuwaya
employer, showered us with lots of empty promises.
It happened that the secretariate had never employed that much corpers in the past, and the corpers lodge in Kaiama was build in the middle of a swamp forest, around which, for the first time in my life, i saw a snake as fat as my thigh and long as my leg (although it was very much dead at the time, it voluntarily chose it’s dying spot). The Chairman promised to renovate a new lodge for his serving corpers but during the three-week orientation camp, I never thought I was going to spend the rest of my service year in the same old camp double bunk, bath in the same bathroom and walk the same camp ground. Yes, we were asked to squat in the orientation camp for two weeks before the renovation is completed. But two weeks extended to the whole service year. The orientation camp became our corpers lodge through out the service year. We learned to live with the things we cannot change and worked on the things we can change.

As the service journey continued

In all things we did our best to serve the kaiama community. We helped build the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Govt. Secretariat, from scratch. Through our community development service -CDS, we showed example of community cleanliness and service to humanity. And we all had a lot to learn about all of that.
Of all things, I just can’t forget the good times we had in the jungle. The fellowships (courtesy NCCF), the parties and grooves which we created ourselves. It was really a good time in the jungle.

In whatever circumstances we find ourselves in the journey of life, our Attitude is what makes all the difference. We  either choose to keep cursing, criticizing and worrying about the situation of things or find the opportunity it presents, make use of it and move on with your life.
Even when I try, I just can’t forget the National Service day’s, the people, fellow corps members and all the good times and rough times. Each of these factors did play a good role in my life.

How about you? Do you have stories to tell about your national youth service year?


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