On arriving the NYSC Permanent Orientation camp, Paiko in Niger State, I remember saying to myself: “that’s it – I’m done. I’m not doing again”. Lol. In fact, I was concluding plans to relocate back to Abuja. Anyways, that was me judging a wonderful book of experience by it’s cover. As at 11am, on the 24th day of January, 2017, I was less than 3 hours old in Niger state, but I was already making plans to leave already. About four days into the camping experience, I became a member of the camp’s Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS) because of my interest in the reporting aspect of Mass communication and journalism even though I read Philosophy.
The OBS crew were one of the camp’s most envied group. We were seen as special breed of corps members – we never went for the tedious parades, we wore special tags, and we had special designated chairs and canopies for public events in camp. In fact, it was a fantastic and honorable experience. This is especially so because I met a whole new set of wonderful, fun and super talented individuals who I spent my whole camp times with learning from each other. Fast-forward to the 13th of February, 2017; the day we were to leave camp. I must note here too that ironically, I was reluctant to leave. I was going to miss my new set of family and friends who I have been “locked” up with in camp for 21 days. However, we left the camp enroute Suleja where I was posted. On our way, we had an accident.
The car we boarded fell into a ditch on the opposite side of the road. In split seconds almost all occupants of the vehicle were on top of me. Miraculously, we all came out unhurt. We were assisted by other commuters especially when they discovered we were corpers. We got to Suleja. Did our documentations and settled in. One more time, I made another “fruitless” effort to relocate back to Abuja were my family live. Somehow, I became secretly convinced that God wanted me to serve in Suleja – Niger State. I relaxed, blended in and made new friends. Serving in Suleja was fun and interesting but not without some not-too-good experiences. There were challenges but there were valuable lessons too. The environment and her people were cool and not exactly hostile as some of us expected for some reasons. My place of primary assignment (PPA) was quite stressful and exhausting but I learnt alot – I served in a private school by the way. Amongst these.
I had a not so palatable experience where I in company of a female friend and colleague were wrongfully arrested. We were picked up while sitting in front of our lodge one hot evening during the dry seasons. The interesting thing about this experience of ours was that we were later released that night and the policemen apologized to us. The next day, the policemen who effected the wrong arrest had to go buy a new and better phone for me. They had to replace my phone because my phone got missing during their act of wrongful arrest of myself and colleague. I’m sure they learnt their lessons. As part of my experience in national service, I had the opportunity to serve my Community Development Service (CDS) group – Press Club CDS group in the capacity of a Vice President. It was an honour and an eye opening experience because our administration were able to achieve milestones.
A unique aspect of my time during service that I would like to highlight here is my opportunity to bag more certifications and attend human capital developement trainings. One of many of them was the Project Management Professional training and certification. Another was the Proficiency Certificate in Management from the revered Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) coupled with a membership certificate from this professional body amongst other certifications. As an aside and interestingly enough for me, your’s faithfully was one of the “NigerKopa” magazine’s cover models (November /December 2017 edition) – an end of service year editorial publication. Yeah! I am proud of that too. In all of these, I asked myself; “how would all these very interesting experiences be possible if I had succeeded in relocating “? Certainly, I concluded, God’s hand is in this. He wanted me here. This became a great lesson and a source of inspiration to me that I keep sharing.
Now, I learnt a few but very important things. Handling the NYSC experience is not exactly a question of whether you have had a tough experience in life or not. Rather, it is about how open-minded one is to accommodate different experiences. It is about accepting good or bad; comfort and discomfort that occurs to bring balance and beauty to life. In my good and not so good experiences in service, I have been able to grow, acquire new skills, develop my CV and build character. The service year was certainly a time to meditate and plan for the future. This I was able to achieve. Today, I am an ex-corps member. Cheers and see you at the top.
Michael Chukwuemeka Uzuegbunam. BA (Hons.) Philosophy
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