Thursday, July 9, 2015

MY NYSC EXPERIENCE THUS FAR

For those who don't know, NYSC stands for "National Youth Service Corps". It is a mandatory one-year service program for all graduates, under 30 years of age. The first three weeks of the program is reserved for "camp".

Disclaimer: I was really ill when I first returned to Nigeria and due to medical reasons, I was unable to stay on camp.

Where do I start?

I guess the beginning is always a good place.


REGISTRATION DAY

One word: SWEAT. I arrived early in the morning at the Kubwa camp in Abuja, around 8am, to get the ball rolling.

Note: Arrive early on registration day.

Although I got there around 8am, I didn't finish with registration and leave the camp site until almost 7pm. When I got there, I was first directed to the registration hall and met the queue of fresh corpers readily awaiting assistance themselves. Everyone had their documents ready and set to go. One of those documents was the NYSC call-up letter (This is printed after filling out your online NYSC application form on the NYSC website. Your call-up letter has a specific call-up number assigned to you on it which you'll need to keep handy.) Other documents include a copy of your University certificates/diplomas, Green Card details (also printed out after applying online), a copy of your undergraduate transcript, copies of your passport pages (if you're a foreign-trained national, you'll need to make copies of your visa page(s) from the country you studied in, your last departure from Nigeria page, and your most recent entry into Nigeria page), and a copy of your student ID card. (I'd recommend you go as far as having copies of your birth certificate and high school diploma; someone just might ask to see it.) I ended spending almost three hours waiting in the registration hall because the official that was supposed to look over my documents wasn't around. Na so it be. When he finally made it in, I handed him my documents and simply prayed he'd quickly move me along. When he was done looking them over, he signed my call-up sheet and ushered me off to a section in the hall where I was to get my registration slip printed. On the registration slip was my basic information and my FCT Code (another important number you'll need to remember).  From the registration hall, I had to go and pick up my uniform kit. All the corpers were divided into different platoon groups and each platoon group had platoon officers stationed at separate tables handing out uniform kits.  

Note: Your platoon group is noted on the registration slip you receive at the registration hall.

Once I found out my platoon group, and where my platoon officer was stationed, I joined the unruly queue surrounding her. In my mind, I assumed collecting my uniform would take at worst, an hour. Well, it took 4 hours. By the time I made it to the front of the line, I was hot, sticky, and disgusted. The level of shoving, yelling, and disorder that took place while standing in the pseudo-line was something for the books.  

Note: Hold onto your items tightly. (You never know when someone will shove you; you don’t want your documents or phone or anything else essential falling to the ground.)

I turned in four passport photos as required, filled out a form asking for my basic information, filled out my information in a thick book on the table, turned in a copy of my call-up letter/green card details and a copy of my registration slip.  

Note: Make at least 3 copies of every form you have. (There is a photocopy station close to the registration hall. Be sure to have money on you to pay for the copies. Be warned, there are no real lines and it’s like a mob surrounding the people making the photocopies so be careful of your documents and make sure they don’t get lost in the shuffle.)

After doing this, I was told to pick up a green meal card from the table (which has a specific number on it) and a uniform kit from one of the bags on the floor. The kit included one khaki pant, one khaki jacket, a NYSC branded hat, two white shorts, two white shirts, one branded green/white NYSC shirt, two pairs of green/white stockings, one pair of white canvass shoes, and one pair of orange military boots.  

Note: When initially filling out the NYSC application online, there was a section that asked me for my clothing and shoe sizes. It was of no consequence. (The kits were not divided into sizes; you simply had to pick whatever you saw at the time.)

I ended up with an over-sized khaki jacket, an over-sized khaki pair of pants, and both shoes were at least three sizes too small. The process that followed was a wonderful trade off; most of us went around looking for people to exchange clothes and shoes with. After checking with about 10 people, I finally found a girl who had a pair of white canvasses that were too big for her and perfectly sized for me, and a guy that had military boots that were too big for him and perfectly sized for me. By the time I was done with that, I was too tired to worry about exchanging the clothes. Before I left that area, my platoon leader informed me that because I had a medical note I had to go to the camp director’s office to write an “Application for Exaet” stating my reason for not staying on camp and then return it to her. I wrote the application, collected a signed & approved exaet document from the office, made copies of both documents first, and then returned the original copy of the “Application for Exaet” to my platoon leader who had my file. From there, I had to go back towards the registration hall where I started and meet a photographer stationed there to take an official photo with my branded NYSC shirt. It cost N500. I was so sweaty and felt so sucky but I managed to give a smile while getting my photo taken. I was then given a small blue card by the photographer that I had to turn into one of the ladies at the registration hall. I turned it in and that was it for the day. I was exhausted. I slowly made it to the exit gate and headed on home.

ACCOUNT OPENING/BOOK OF LIFE DAY

About a week later, I returned to camp to handle my account shenanigans. Each corper is assigned a specific bank to open an account with. Your monthly stipend from NYSC will be paid into that account. Your bank is assigned to you based on your FCT code number. Thankfully, I had the phone numbers of a few corpers staying at camp (we bonded over our frustration while standing in the 4-hour uniform kit line on registration day) and one of them called me to inform me the night before the accounts were being opened. I got to camp in the morning and located where the reps from the various banks were stationed. I found out what bank I was assigned to, joined the “line” around the bank reps, and waited for almost an hour just to discover that they had run out of account opening forms. I laughed. So typical. They informed us that they’d be back the following Monday (I went there on a Friday) to continue. I quietly moved from that area and located my platoon officer where she was sitting with her own “mob” of corpers. She was handling the “Book of Life” shenanigans.  

Note: You must fill out your information in the "Book of Life".

The “Book of Life” is a large book in which all corpers are required to write out their details - name, address, call-up number, FCT code, phone number, etc. I don’t see the big deal about it (we already had to fill in the same information in another similar-looking book on registration day) but if you don’t do it, you don’t get to pass out successfully at the end of your NYSC service. Once I filled out mine, I moved on to the next phase – “allowee” shenanigans. In that same area, there was a room where I had to fill out my information in a book (just like that of the “Book of Life”) to authorize my receipt of the first payment of the NYSC stipend. I did that and was told to come back a few days later to receive it. And so I was done for that day. Gone baby gone.
 
NYSC ID CARD/STIPEND DAY

A few days later, I returned to collect my first stipend and ID card. That meant, of course, long lines. I joined the “mob” for stipends and waited until it was my turn. When my time had reached, I filled out my information again in yet another book and collected my stipend (I was supposed to have my meal ticket – the one I collected on registration day -  with me in order to collect my stipend but I had forgotten it at home. Thankfully, the man issuing the stipends accepted my exaet document instead. I was beyond grateful. I live pretty far from the camp site in Kubwa and the idea of paying transport money to go back home and then return to camp again that same day was causing my stomach to turn). From there, I walked back to the area by the registration hall where I met the photographer to collect my photos. I searched through the stack of photos in the container on the table and picked out mine – there were 16 passport-sized copies. Now, it was time to locate my platoon officer to collect my ID card. This is where I got rather irritated. I went to her room only to find out that she wasn’t going to be handing out the ID cards until the weekend. I didn’t get the point of the delay and I surely wasn’t going to be worrying about transport money to get to camp that weekend so I resolved to collect it on the last day of camp, which was “Passing Out Day”.  As for that day, I was done.

PASSING OUT/POSTING LETTER DAY

I arrived early in the morning and the first thing on the agenda was locating my platoon officer to collect my ID card. Thankfully, I didn’t have to search for very long. I found her and happily collected my ID card from her. On the ID card is a passport-sized photo of mine on the upper right-hand corner, my name, call-up number, state, FCT code, blood group, validity (the date it is valid until), and my signature. I then made my way to the parade grounds where the passing out ceremony was taking place. Some of the corpers had previously been selected to march and perform during the parade and they did a really good job. Once the parade was over, we all rushed to the area where our posting letters (a letter stating the company or organization each corper is assigned to work at for the duration of his/her service year) were being handed out. There was equally a “mob” there as well. The letters were being handed out based on FCT code numbers and I eagerly waited to hear mine. After a little while, I heard my number called and stretched out my hand to collect my letter. Once I knew where I was posted, I bid everyone farewell and made my way to my place of primary assignment, “PPA”. I handed over my posting letter (after making copies first) and was informed that I’d be hearing from the office shortly to know whether I was accepted or rejected.  

Note: It is important to report to your “PPA” immediately after you get your posting letter from camp. (Simply being posted to a company or organization does not guarantee that you will be accepted by that company or organization. The sooner you report, the better.)

A few days after, I went back to the office to receive my acceptance letter (thank goodness because I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious!) and was told to report to work the following Monday.

CDS/SAED/ACCOUNTS

Besides that, I also had to visit the NYSC zonal offices to get assigned my CDS and to choose my SAED. CDS stands for “Community Development Service”. Every corper is assigned a specific CDS group and a specific day out of each week to report to his/her specified CDS venue. The CDS groups include Agro Allied, Charity, Sanitation, and more.  

Note: Always wear your NYSC uniform to the NYSC zonal offices.

The first time I went there I didn’t wear it and after standing in line for almost 2 hours, I made it to the front just to be told by the NYSC official I met that I would not be attended to because I could not be identified as a corper. I wasn’t pleased. Another section handled at the zonal office is SAED. SAED stands for "Skill Acquisition & Entrepreneurship Development". Everyone is required to pick up a skill during the service year and there are several skills courses available to choose from. One can choose anything from “tailoring” and “bead making” to “Web Design & Development”. Every course has a fee and attendance is required once a month for about 6 months. When the course is completed, we will receive a certificate that must be presented at the end of the service year before we can receive our NYSC final leaving certificate.  

Note: You must choose a SAED course to take during your service year.

I also had to check in with the accounts department at the zonal office and turn in my bank account information (based on the bank account opened up in camp) to confirm where my monthly NYSC stipend will be paid into. Of course, all of these protocols took days to complete. So, don't expect to have this sorted out in a few hours.

That’s where I’m at with NYSC, folks. I hope this breakdown proves to be helpful for those of you returning to Nigeria from abroad that will be participating in the scheme. My best advice for you is to go into the experience with a realistic view of the frustration you'll likely experience while at the same time remaining optimistic that things will work out for you and you’ll meet people (fellow corpers and empathetic NYSC officials) along the way that will keep you informed of the NYSC procedures and protocols you must follow to have a successful service year; they’ll definitely make the experience more bearable.

On a note of gratitude, I’m happy to be serving in Abuja and not another state – I’d really be a fish out of water then.

Until next time :)

p.s. You'll have to forgive me; I planned to add a photo of me in my NYSC uniform but unfortunately I had issues uploading it. Not to worry, I'll share it soon enough.

post signature

15 comments:

  1. Great and insightful thoughts about your experience.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't miss NYSC one bit!!!!

    Coming to Abuja next week btw

    Berry Dakara Blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, I don't blame you. And why am I responding to your comment about being in Abuja weeks after! Smh.

      Delete
  3. The whole NYSC scheme is just a load of bull, really. But that's my opinion. I'm just glad mine is over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can understand your sentiment, David. Some say they love(d) it and some say otherwise. By the end of mine, we shall see :)

      Delete
  4. NYSC! NYSC! What can I say? My first day in camp was hell!!! I was ill with typhoid n still on medication. So with all d drills I was sure I was going 2 collapse because I kept blanking out. Tough doe but I scaled through... Yeeyy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! I can only imagine what you dealt with that first day being so sick. Kudos to you for sticking it through!

      Delete
  5. 'serving your fatherland excercise', it requires patience and paying attention to details. I hope your posting, to you was favourable in all or most aspects.
    Have fun serving Naija!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, o! Patience and attention to detail are clearly required from me more than ever now. God help me :)

      Delete
  6. I shouted a mental yay" in my head when I saw the post title.
    You are serving our nation too.yay! Lol.

    Atleast you didn't stay the 3weeks in camp like others, I left after 2weeks or so for call to bar too.
    The stress eh, nor be here but people have fun too and for me, I was inspired in camp... for one thing, not to ever go with the general mindset about nysc which brings me to another point.

    I caught this phrase in this post "they’ll definitely make the experience more bearable."
    *sigh*
    Nysc isn't meant to be"bearable" sis, it can be an awesome year for you if you want it to be so.
    You can pour out into the lives of others and impact lives positively wherever you are posted to.

    I started a category on my blog based on nysc, interviewed youths who had plans to do awesome things and one of them was a guy named David who we both participated at a recent seminar I organize at schools. He has passed out now but the school he served at was sorry to see him go. I asked him to write about his year as an update to his interview and goals he had given to me at camp last year and I saw him at a conference last two weeks. He had to call me out to speak to me. He said he couldn't put words down, that God had/has been sooo good to him with his year spent at Ekiti(his ppa state). He said he didn't want to come but even he is surprised. The students he undertook to take free extra mural lessons were writing him letters. Thanking him for pouring wisdom into them. The teachers gave him gifts, begging him to stay..thats a corper like us. Oh sis, we are called to be lights wherever we are. Please don't go into nysc with this mindset I see in the comments. It's not bull. It's a year to make impact, fulfill purpose.impact lives with Christ in you.

    I wish you agreat year sis.
    I pray God will open your eyes tosee what He can do with you even during this year.

    And oh, here's the link to the category of nysc things on my blog.
    My work in schools are there too.
    I hope a fire lights in your heart as you read.

    http://www.imperfectlyperfectlives.com/category/awakening-youths/page/2/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frances!!! How are you, my dear? I hope everything is great with you :)

      Thank you for your prayers and for your comment. I appreciate you taking the time to write it and to encourage me - you're the best! I will definitely check out the NYSC category on your blog for further inspiration.

      Have a great week :)

      Delete
  7. Yah yah, u got it all, with full details, even than me who was in the camp, u didn't miss the lines, I will also tell u that staying in camp, was so much fun and another life entirely. Grtttt work Adeze, much love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, Victor! So you have finally read one of my posts and commented? Dalu o.

      Delete
  8. Everyone is ill & gets a medical exemption from camp looooool
    BLEURGH - http://www.bleurghnow.com

    ReplyDelete