NYSC, Travelling

Musings of a Rural Corper

As part of a national integration scheme, the government sends corps members (CMs) to different locations to “obey the clarion call and lift our nation high”. Most CMs prefer to be posted to developed areas (“towns”). For Kaduna State, Kaduna, the state capital, is a preferred location. The various military formations in the state, especially, the elite Nigerian Defence Academy, are also highly sought posting locations. CMs posted to rural areas are seen as the less-fortunate ones. Towns and rural areas have their pros and cons, but for many CMs, personal preferences are the superior criteria. The posting letters, when they come, show whose fantasies or nightmares come true.

“After the closing ceremony, all corps members will receive their posting letters”. With these words, the announcer notified the mass of khaki-cradling young Nigerians that their fates had been sealed (or rather, the fates of those without the intention or the means of tweaking destiny). As CMs took their letters, faces turned into smiles, scowls, and any other expression fit for the occasion. Mine stated, “Fadan Karshi, Sanga LGA”. “Where the hell was this place”, I wondered.

Prior to this time, I had already made peace with myself. I was ready to be posted anywhere as long as two things were available—power supply and an internet connection. Hence, I made no attempt to tweak my posting. The means was definitely available. With six years of coping experience in an elite boarding school where guerrilla survival skills were lauded, I felt that there was no place where I could not survive. Just provide “light” and a good network.

After collecting our posting letters, the next step was to locate a means of transportation from the orientation camp. Traditionally, various LGA councils send buses to convey CMs posted to their areas. For some reason, maybe due to the present credit crunch, my LGA failed to make any plans for us. An alternative arrangement was made, costing ₦1,500 per head. “What! Are we travelling out of Kaduna State?” Several CMs protested. Fresh from the ambience of “Aluta”—Nigeria’s version of students’ rights campaigns—the idea of paying that amount out of an overtly generous ₦19,800 allowance was unacceptable. A quick look at mobile maps showed that our destination was at the state’s southern border. After a protest-induced delay, we started the journey.

“Are we there yet?” Tired CMs in the three buses were worried about the journey that seemed unwilling to end. Four hours of compulsory “sun bathing” in the parade ground had surely planted fecund seeds of fatigue. After three hours compressed in a bus, not even the beautiful green scenery that sped away could calm the frayed nerves of the Sanga-bound CMs. As the windows revealed village settlements dotted with mud houses, some CMs silently hoped that such areas would not be their places of primary assignment. Finally, at 6:15pm, after almost four hours on the road, the buses stopped in front of a yellow building. The lettering on its front wall read “NYSC Guest House Gwantu”.

PS. Gwantu is the headquarters of Sanga Local Government Area.

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