18 August, 2011

21 days On The Clarion Call.


Youths obey the clarion call, 
let us lift our nation high.
Under the sun or in the rain,
with dedication and selflessness.
Nigeria's ours', Nigeria we serve.

The week prior to leaving for the NYSC Orientation camp, Iyana-paja, I received my call-up letter and to an extent excited since I was in Lagos-Lagos but I was financially constrained and was ready for whatever. My aim was to go and have fun in Iyana-paja in preparedness for the months remaining in 2011. D-day was less than 16:00hrs and I'd not packed up my luggage. I got home late and tired from my day's activities and meeting but tried to pack up before retiring for the night.

I arrived Iyana-paja camp before 07:30hrs  on 5th July, 2011 hoping to get registered on time and secure a bed space but my registration did not occur as hoped though I got a bed space at about 10:00hrs. Though this was not achieved without enduring several hours of standing and jumping over the queues. Like other gentlemen corps members, I was allocated to a room to be shared with other 31 corps members from different institutions of higher learning, belief systems, disciplines and attitudes with 1 among us who snored every night like a debilitated cassava processing machine. Most of the bathrooms in the male accommodation block had water flowing but one needs a skii board to get through.
Having heard about Iyana-paja camp, I'd hoped for a more spacious environment but I spent my 21 days in a mini-sized 4-walled compound having a few number of soldiers attached to the camp as platoon instructors while the camp market other wise known as mammy market was right adjacent to the parade ground. The camp kitchen and the registration points were located behind the hostel and beside the kitchen was the Man 'O' War village.

Having cut corners on several points to get registered before dusk, I got my code tag with number  0816 inscribed on it at about 15:40hrs. I got my kits from 6platoon instructors and it was time to freshen up. On getting to the bathroom, I met water flowing but half-way to completing my bath, the water stopped. Gush! I had no bucket to back my self up and the bugle was calling for the first parade at about 16:30hrs. Should I mop without rinsing off the lather?  Was the first option that flashed my mind. Since I was ready for whatever that was to come my way, I wrapped my face towel around my waist, bumped into room ecomog lamenting my ordeal, immediately, Bruno (who was selected as the room governor) walked in with a bucket of water and allowed me to share with him.

7th July, was slatted for 11B swearing in ceremony for corps members nation wide and responsible for the parade in Iyana-paja camp was Capt. A. Mohammed of the Nigeria Army who was supported by various junior army officers as well as para-military personnel.

On the evening of 5th July, all corps members were commanded to cover up on the parade ground according to their various platoons and the orientation course began with the bugle calls and what each call meant. We were told at what time Nigeria sleeps and the time she wakes up as well as coordinating ourselves while on parade. At every 20:00hrs, it was time for lights out which some corps members failed to adhere and sanctions were the results.

Parade rehearsals commenced with 'standing at attention and at ease'. This was followed by "attention by number codes 1 &2", "stand at ease by number codes 1 & 2". We thought these minors were all that was expected by the Camp Commandant, Capt. A. Mohammed. The parade was dismissed but we were to be visible on the parade ground for 3weeks by 04:30hrs for drills and leave for bath at 08:00hrs. Day 2 was not funny at all, that was 6th July .

On 6th July, 2011 we got a call after bath to be on the parade ground, it was scorching, water was not allowed and we were drilled for several hours till it was launch time. We were always wrong while in camp, we never got anything right. Our lives were regimented all the way. After launch, we were called again for parade since the day after was the corps members swearing-in ceremony. As a result of the drills while the sun was malevolent, some corps members were assisted off the parade ground. I made it through the day, I could not believe it. 

We continued with the drills on 7th July while awaiting the guest of honour to whom we gave 3-hearty cheers. The guest came and in no time, he left with his entourage. Corps members from the parade pimped a parade command for themselves "permission to remove boxers" in place of "permission to remove head-dress".

After the guest left, we were informed of our first allowance other wise known in camp as allawee and without fronting, formations were formed based on code tag range.
I had fun during the morning drills and I made some new friends. As part of the morning drill, we had our physical training (PT) going on by an instructor in the army. One of his commands that cracks me up is "hands on your waist position huh". Before leaving parade in the morning, the Man 'O' War personnel would motivate all gentlemen corps member to "hold something" and most time, I heard the females accusing the guys of handling them aggressively.

I volunteered to be trained in other to foster at least 40 adolescents in secondary schools on reproductive health issues. This is because these are the vulnerable ones in the society. As each day passes by, a number of them are subjected to unfavourable conditions at home and thus, they choose to run their lives without understanding the implications that abound. 

The training for reproductive health commenced on the my second week in camp and it gulped my entire week. This was because it ran for 6 days and on each day, we were to kick-off by 09:00hrs and round off for the day at 17:00hrs with lunch break from 14:00hrs - 15:00hrs and on the 7th day, we had our induction. Hence, I became an advocate for the spread against HIV and AIDS.

I think it was the first Sunday in Iyana-paja, and it rained mercilessly for several hours. While buildings in several parts of Lagos were washed off campers (boys & girls) did not restrain themselves from queueing  for their meal. 

In more than one event, I saw two African ladies carried buckets of water on their heads. These were from Eastern Nigeria, I can bet it. You need to witness how campers changed the parade against the platoon instructors for calling off the camp-fire night after party.

For me, you are wrong if you didn't have your orientation in Iyana-paja.