I boarded a cab from Gusau to Tsafe, the Orientation camp at Tsafe Local Government Area. On getting to my destination, I glanced the military men in their well kitted camouflage heavily armed with M9 Pistol, OKC-3S Bayonet, Beretta M9, Sniper Rifle, Smoke Grenade and AK-47 Rifle. Their facial expressions were horrible. “Open your luggage,” they searched every nook and cranny including pockets in case of any harmful objects or unlawful items. Entering the gate by the left was where to register our names on the log book. We did the registration provided by NYSC officials who later told us to go and meet another official to claim our beds before heading to our various hostels.
The following day, registration proper kicked off with verification and documentation together with allocation of accommodation. During that time, we did our biometry (thumbprints), collected our state codes, they told us our platoon number (Platoon 1). At the time we were waiting for our Platoon Officer, I met HANNA ADEBISI, JOY OBASI and OLUWASHEYI also waiting for our Platoon officer. I asked “are you guys in platoon 1? They replied yes. Our platoon officer arrived, we submitted our files. He issued NYSC kits to us which includes, a pair of khaki trouser, khaki jacket, NYSC belt, NYSC Crested Vest, NYSC Crested Cap, two pairs of white plain vest, two white PE shorts, a pair of NYSC socks, a pairs of jungle boot, a pair of white canvas, a pair of white plain socks and meal ticket. “If you lost your soul, you lost your life.’’ On camp, if you lost your meal ticket, you lost the chance of eating NYSC meal for free. I was fortunate to know one of the kitchen workers, always eating without presenting my meal ticket. Sometimes, I used to collect double or triple meal a day. Plaid a role of son of kitchen’s worker with free will. I love to eat NYSC meal than spent regrettable amount of money on delicacies at Mammy Market.
Third day on camp at exactly 5:00am, we heard a sound “Ponranran Ponranran para ra rara rara,’’ it was interpreted to “Moso fue! Moso fue! Pekomawa Zamfara.” That is the sound of the bugle which is usually blown by the bugler everyday on camp. Different sound at different time. The sound I love was during the time for meal, “ponpon popoo, popo pipopo,” interpreted to “hungry kopa, the food is ready,” you know, I love food very much. With Soldiers assembled themselves in front of our block, I quickly wore my white vest, short, socks and white canvas, “eee…Otonde come out, don’t let me meet you inside, White fowls…Waka! Shege! Out! Out! Oya Oya Parade ground. Outside, I heard “charge your phone, charge your battery and your power bank.” We went to the Mosque, observed Solatul Subuh. Christians did their morning prayer on the parade ground. After we observed Solat finished, another ringing tone activated “Oya parade ground, don’t let me see you walking…fall in threes. National Anthem, National pledge, National prayer. We were thought how to memorise the first Stanza of NYSC Anthem. “Youths obey the Clarion call………” on the ground were the State Coordinator, Mrs. Sanda Ramatu (Mama can talk for Africa); the camp director, Mr. Summanuwa Yusuf (heaven speaker) and others who were addressed us about what to do and not to do, within and outside camp.
After the first address on camp, Platoons were assigned to different duties. Our platoon officer told us our first assignment on camp, our first duty was to be in the camp’s Kitchen, and to be in the Kitchen would last for a day.
A day to our Swearing in ceremony, we were told on what to wear; NYSC crested Vest, NYSC kaki trouser, NYSC socks, gleamed Jungle boot and NYSC crested cap.
Thursday 25th May, 2017 was scheduled to be our Swearing in Ceremony. We were fully in NYSC symbols on the parade ground, waiting for dignitaries within and outside the state. The representative of Zamfara State Governor, the state commissioner for Sports and Youth development came in, program started by 8:00am and ended by 10:00am. After the program, other Physical trainings continued in the afternoon, we were told the time of our platoon’s Man ‘O’ War Martial Arts and drill.
The experience I had from Man ‘O’ War drill was if you were operated before, you wouldn’t be able to do the exercise because of the act and the training you would embarked on, very hard one.
To say the fact, I was unable to participate in the marching rehearsals because I hate to, my mind wasn’t there at all, I was thinking on how to relocate and nothing entered my head than that. We had a group called RELOCATION GROUP also called PLATOON 12, ADEBOLA ADEBISI can testify to this. I had a nose mask to prove I wasn’t normal to stay in Zamfara. We relocations group Knew each other till God answered each other prayers.
During my stay on Camp, I met a lot of cronies with different characters like comic, family friends, Honey friends, witty guys, artificial lovers, very much closer friends like lovers and many more.
HANNA ADEBISI is the first on my outline, she graduated from Kaduna State Polytechnic, very knowledgeable lady. JOY OBASI, always called her Second in command because she was our Ass Platoon leader (Platoon 1). TAIYE LAWAL, native of my town, Offa, also my roommate on Camp together with KINGSLEY AUGUSTINE AND PROF. OLABISI, they were both Platoons leaders, we had a very remarkable experiences together. ADEBINBO ADEBOLA ADEBISI, very eloquent lass, we had a good connection on camp especially, on our relocations. GODIYA WISDOM was really there for me, I can recall vividly the time Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS) crew asked me a question on the line when we were waiting to collect our first Allowance on camp, they asked me ” when did you last chop SHAWAMA,” I felt startled, I asked “What is the meaning of SHAWAMA?” the all burst in to laughter, ” so, you never chop SHAWAMA before?” I said yes. GODIYA walks to me a say “at list, you ought to have joke with them because they are also joking too.” Very much closer friend was PRINCESS BLESSING, I can recall the time she was about to check her name on the relocation list, she first went to collect her PPA letter, her letter was not there, she ascended to check if her name was on the relocation list, she saw her name and her emotion got her jumped on me with her precious babies, she had already gave up to stay in Zamfara but her name appeared on the list, very unthinkable. OLUWASHEYI, woman like man, African black diamond, strong with cute smiles. TOBI AJAKAIYE, my man, Mr. Macho, very tall and fierce muscle like bodyguard. EKAETTE AKPA, very funny party on this lady was, we met at our Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) group (TIE AND DYE), she was sitting in front, I was behind her, she loved to asked questions and I was kind of pissed off, I called her “OMO IGBO hahahah,” she replied “OMO YORUBA waiting” in hilarious way, that was how we were friends within and outside camp. FUMIN EVYLEN and EMALEKU HELLEN, really missed you guys. SAHEED, MARYAM, ABDULSALAM and MUYIDEEN, you guys are too much to be neglected.
The duration of my camping lasted for 3 weeks. The first week was about screening, Documentation and allocation of accommodation; registration and issuance of Kit items, formation of platoons, registration drill, swearing in ceremony, cultural display by host community, Man ‘O’ War activities, personal administration, religious activities, game and sports, social activities and sensitisation on skill acquisition.
Second week was during RAMADAN PERIOD, continuation of activities, the start of Skills Acquisition training which I was a member of “Tie and Dye” group, inter platoon activity, NYSC partnership lecture, sporting events, collection of first allowances on camp, Bicycle allowance (1,500) Monthly Allowance (19,800) by hands).
Third week was about inter – platoon drills competition; finals of sports competition, parade rehearsals, carnival, state coordinator debriefing, closing ceremony/collection of corps members.
The closing ceremony day, coy unforgettable day was on Monday 12 June, 2017, the Day of Judgment. The event was graced with distinguished guests, with the attendance of the representative of the state Governor, the state commissioner for Sports and Youth development came in. After the march past, he started his speech, we waited on the parade ground by force because they had pasted the names of those that were relocated when we were on the parade ground. At the end of his speech, he left the podium and we ‘rabbitly’ ran to check the names of those that were relocated, fortunately my name came up, I was relocated to Osun State, very overjoyed. I packed my luggage, left camp and descended to Gusau.
I left Gusau the following day to Offa because I needed to print my relocation letter and submitted it at NYSC Secretariat at Osun State as fast as Usain Bolt. Another rough journey back to Kwara State begins.
Thanks for your time!
Watch out for my “BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH TO SERVE A NATION, (THE CONCLUDING PART).
YASIN OLAWUMI recently finished National Youth Service, NYSC OSUN STATE.