Of course it’s a rant, what was your first clue? The title? Or the fact that I’ve just spent three weeks in a refugee camp? Oh sorry did I say refugee? I meant refugee.
Where to begin…where to begin?
Perhaps I should start by telling you how we’re expected to drop irons, water heaters, razor blades as well as swag, cool and all forms of fresh at the gate on arrival.
Or I should just go straight to my ‘room’; an ancient classroom with open spaces for windows and not even a single light bulb talk less of a fan. Oh did I mention that there were no bunks? I had to get my foam (it’d be a grave insult to the mattress kingdom to call the flat damp smelly torn thing i was given a mattress) from the store and carry it to the classroom. Most people carried theirs on their heads but as I hadn’t yet gotten the memo about dropping swag at the gate, I paid one of em urchins to carry mine for me. Anywho. We were about 40 in my classroom with foams so close together on the cement floor that there was no walking space, and our luggage (including buckets) were on the foams.
Maybe I should go on ahead and talk about how I honed my rub’n’shine skills because after they killed the biggest snake I have never seen in my life (it was actually said to be a python) i gave myself brain and stopped waking up at 3am to trek 5minutes (in mud of course) to the bathroom after first fetching water from this well that had all levels of dirt ranging from regular mud and sand to VISIBLE insects and frogs. I kid you not. Needless to say, I was bathing more with water in Dettol than Dettol in water. And no, we couldn’t just bath outside because we were on the same corridor as the military men were. So after the python thing, I only bathed in broad day light.
Toilets? Pit latrines. In the 21st century. I’m almost certain my bladder now has issues considering the fact that I peed my pants a couple of times (I hope I have enough street cred to be able to admit this and still remain on the waiting list to join the cool kids).
What can I say about the lectures or the lecture hall. 3-4 hours of standing/sitting outside in the sun (and rain) because the lecture hall (which is actually the dining hall) can only contain about 200 people. Did I mention that we were over 2000? It was during one of these ‘sitting under the sun’ expeditions that the aforementioned python decided to surface not to far from where I was. Sunbathing I presume. Everyone scattered obviously. I refused to look. One of the Man O War guys killed it. The soldiers cooked it and ate. I will probably never be able to bathe in darkness again.
Oh I know. I should tell you about my three day sojourn in the clinic (of course I fell ill). I bought all my drugs (at severely inflated prices) from a pharmacy outside the camp because they did not have drugs. The second day I was there, they did not have paracetamol. Paracetamol.
Perhaps I should leave all of these things and tell you about what bothered me the most. The fact that Nigeria is in trouble. Forget what you see on twitter and in Lagos. The average Nigerian graduate is largely ignorant and uninformed.
Don’t even get me started on the English.
A graduate of Electrical Electronics Engineering from a federal university sent me this SMSs:
“U don’t always pick my calls,y? You might be reasoning I’m not come up wit smtn, but I’m takn my time 2 pray over it to be able to ascertain it’s devinity cus I wldn’t want to be hurted again (I’ll update you later)”
“Adannaya, I don’t know how 2 come out 4 u 2 really undrstnd or picture my mind. Sencerly speakn u 1 in a million and all I desire to be d full man I’m created 4.”
There are jobs in Nigeria. Our educational system is just not churning out employable youth. I was embarrassed for us the day I went to the bank to open up an account for the federal allowance; most of us couldn’t fill the basic form correctly. Some of the questions we asked the bank officials made me hang my head in shame. The educational system needs serious help.
Oh and amongst the guys Chi isn’t just dead, Chi is a fossil (Ask TheToolsman. Uncle Tools be a darling and put up a link to that post in the comment box will you?)
So. Do I think NYSC should be scrapped?
1) NCCF (Nigeria Christian Corpers Fellowship): Believe it or not, this was one of the only aspects of camp that made it all worth it. But beyond camp, these guys are actually doing serious work to help rural communities. Apart from spiritual crusades, counseling and academics, they also help out with medical supplies, clothing, food and other basic items. You’d be surprised at the level of deprivation in some of these communities.
2) NYSC: Yup. Truth is, if the NYSC is run properly, it’ll actually make a lot of sense. The initial primary objective was to foster integration in Nigeria especially after the civil war and also to aid growth in rural communities. Laudable objectives really. Someone’s gotta teach those kids. But does it have to include subjecting Corpers to all manners of inhumane treatment in the name of ‘serving your fatherland’? I think not.
What the NYSC program needs is a total overhaul. Perhaps the officials themselves starting from the President to the Director General and the rest need re-orientation themselves. From accommodation to security to remuneration to overallq welfare. Service does not necessarily imply suffering.
I think I’m going to stop here. Truth is if I’d written this piece on the night of my arrival in camp like I really wanted to, it would’ve been filled with so much venom ehn? But I’m calmer now. This is just regular ranting. I’ve let it all out.
P.S- At first I felt the need to apologize that this wasn’t a story and a sad one at that, but then I remembered that in my very first post ( Welcome To My Very Own Madness), I warned that this here blog has no specific direction and would be as random as my state of mind. So there.