Monday, 13 December 2010



I forgot in the last post to write a few lines about social life in camp. I think I will leave much of it to your imagination. But, see this picture below. WOW, right? That was the NYSC Mr Macho Man competition of my camp. 

The winners of these pageants usually get prezzies and will compete with other winners from other state camps. I would’ve taken pictures of the female pageants but I was mostly in mammy market eating suya till I ended up in toilet. No, I meant pit latrine.


As we are told, your NYSC year has 4 important phases, which you must pass through in order to be certified as a completing Corp Member when the service year is over.

Currently, there are 3 batches of Corpers every year, meaning, you have a choice of starting at 3 different times in a year. Batch A Corpers usually start from around February period. B people start around June/July, and C October/November. So for example, if you are looking to join the February batch, you will need to make your trip to Nigeria for registration sometimes around end of December and January. Always check the website ---- for updates and announcements.

The first is your orientation camp, which you MUST attend. I have spent most of this blog space on orientation camp gist. So you have an idea. The camp ends with a sort of military winding down parade. On the day you pass out of camp, you are given your ‘posting letter’. This is the letter you take to your ‘PPA’ – Place of Primary Assignment. Your PPA is where you will work for the next 10 months. Because the NYSC year is supposed to be a year of your selfless service to your nation Nigeria, you are most likely to be posted to areas where your help as a young person is needed most. It’s sort of a charity work. Therefore, you will find that about maybe 80% of your fellow Corpers are posted to rural areas, where they can help build schools and teach. But if you are serving in Lagos for example, the probability that you would be posted to a village is very slim, because most of Lagos is metropolitan. And really, as a foreign graduate, you would most likely be posted to Lagos or Abuja if you register on time and choose either as your first choice - although I always tell people, nothing is guaranteed!
Now even if you get posted to a good private company and not a school or government office, such as banks or oil companies, do not rejoice yet at camp, for thou knowest not whether thou shalt be rejected or not!

PHASE 2 – Primary Assignment
Most Corpers will tell you this is the most difficult part of the one year.  It is not the work you will be doing that is difficult per se. It is getting that job, an accommodation and living on the meagre monthly salary of N9,750 (I think!) – which is around £40/$60 USD. If you are lucky, you could be posted to a company willing to pay you a monthly salary too. But expect it to be around £100/$140 USD as well. Nothing major.
So basically, you are posted to a fancy company, fancy company doesn’t want Corpers, and before you even get there to show them your posting letter in your extreme excitement, a rejection letter is waiting for you. That is the story of 90% of Corpers, believe it or not. Apparently, this prepares you for the real world, because you will face a lot of rejections in life. So this phase teaches you persistence and perseverance. Now I have a lot of reservations about this. But this is not the time to pour down my 2 cents about NYSC as a programme. I will do that in my subsequent posts. I do know a few top people there in the system, so I plan to write my own proposal of how it should be run and submit to them. Anyhoo. That’s for another day.
Now, as a foreign student, there is a way you can save yourself from all this hullabaloo. The best thing to do is to PLAN very well before you leave your fancy country of abode. Plan on where you will live. Where do you want to work? You are allowed to bring a letter from a company requesting that they want to employ you for your service year. So, this is where you look for those uncles and aunties or their friends who have companies in your field of specialisation, and can write you a letter of request that you will give to NYSC. That way, NYSC will post you to them because they have requested for you, and they obviously will not reject you. For example, I have a friend who is working for his friend’s start up IT company in Lagos. He had a letter from the company and NYSC posted him there. He will do his service year there at the company.
So, is this an abuse of the system? I don’t know. What do you think?

If you decide it’s best to leave things to fate and go anywhere you are posted to in the state, that’s also fine. It’s not every time they reject people. But so far I have only one friend who wasn’t rejected when posted to a good company.
I must also mention, frankly, the importance of ‘who you know’.  Most times these fancy companies reject Corpers because the Corpers don’t know anyone at the companies they were posted to.  The problem is, NYSC posts too many people into these fancy places, and they are usually more than needed. As a result, rejection becomes imminent for some. Say a company requested 10 corpers, NYSC will probably send 20 or more. So automatically 10 or more will be rejected. The chosen 10 will be a result of the battle of the fittest. Who knows who. Again I’ve been told you can’t blame NYSC. Corpers lobby unethically for certain choice companies, and some NYSC officials post them there, creating extra candidates for these companies.  It’s easy to play the blame game. Wait till it’s your time.  These are real issues that are not discussed out there in the open. But we all know they happen.

In fact, your case will still be better than most of your Nigerian graduates / colleagues. Most Nigerian graduates are posted far, far away  from their states of Origin; so for example, someone from Ogun State could be posted to Zamfara state in Northern Nigeria, deep into some village that does not exist on a map. They deal with culture shock and loneliness. They are probably posted to a school where none of the village kids speak English. Some of them will have no accommodation because the school may not provide. So, imagine being thrown into a village like one from the scenes of ‘The gods must be crazy’. The water is brown. Most likely no electricity. And they must live and work there for10 months. I’m not making these up. I have friends I met in camp who are in these conditions, deep in some Oyo state village. Getting paid under N10k every month by NYSC.

I mention this so you would be grateful when you find yourself in Lagos or Abuja making those secretariat journeys. You would be grateful you are not making them in some forest.

If you are rejected, you take your rejection letter to the local government secretariat, and you now have to go out there and find an employer for yourself. After you’ve found one, they will write you an acceptance letter which you will take again to the secretariat. The whole process of receiving a response from your original company, getting rejected, and looking for another can take up to 2 months, or even longer. The sad thing about this is that you also do not get paid during this period. To get paid your monthly meagre allowance, you have to be registered, get a ‘clearance’ letter from your employer and submit it to the secretariat between the 1st and 10th of every month. So if you can’t be registered yet because you have no employer yet, how do you get your pay?

In the case you are accepted, you take your acceptance letter to your local government secretariat, and they register you officially into the local govt. Then you are also registered for a programme called ‘CDS’- Community Development Service.

Phase 3 - ‘CDS’- Community Development Service.
As a Corp member you are expected to engage in community service. I can’t say much on this because I am still yet to belong to one due to registration lapses. I will update you on how it goes once I’ve signed up for it. Apparently you can choose which CD group want to belong to, but I have heard conflicting stories of how CD groups were chosen for some. There are major CD groups, like established charities, such as UNICELF (sorry that was a joke. Our NYSC Official at camp used to call if UNICELF instead of UNICEF). Apparently you can choose these from camp especially when they come to give you lectures. The stories I hear is that if you are not in any of these major /special CD groups, your CD group will be chosen for you...which sucks really. I don’t know how true that is; I don’t plan to join the special cds but I will let you know how my own selection process goes. According to friends who are already in CD groups, you get one day off in a week from work to do your CD work. You could be teaching in a school or educating a community about AIDS. I have a friend who works at a bank Monday-Thursday, and does his CD work at a local village school in Aja (Lekki Area) every Friday. These are compulsory if you want to graduate from the school of NYSC after a year. Your CD group will mark registers, and if you are absent at certain number of times, you may be asked to repeat the service year or get 3 months added to your service year. Something like that. However, you may be lucky and get a CD group that is not too strict. I don’t want to encourage you to skip CD groups, so my advice is, go, enjoy it, do it for charity. Take pics. Shoot videos. Hug sick babies. If Princess Diana could do it, you can too. See it as your one chance to touch humanity.

Phase 4 - Passing Out Parade
This will not be done until the last 2 weeks of the service year. So, I can’t say much on it. I will write about it in due time. But from ex-Corpers, I’ve gathered that during this time, Corpers practice for the passing out parade. They are reminded about all the parade skills learnt months before at orientation camp. Apparently there are lectures as well. After the passing out parade, NYSC issues a discharge certificate to completing Corps Members.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


I’m going to blame the late posts on NEPA or PHCN or whatever they’re called these days. When there’s no electricity there’s a limit to what you can do on your laptop. So thanks for accepting my apologies.
Ok. On to our business.
In the last post I said we would discuss some of the issues you would face as a foreign graduate serving in Nigeria. I use the words ‘foreign graduates’ because that is how NYSC refers to graduates from overseas universities. I also think this issue is very sensitive but paramount, and I wish I gave it much thought before heading to camp or even stepping back into Nigeria at all.
This blog is majorly for foreign graduates, although other Nigerian-trained graduates may also find it useful. That said, in my opinion there are three kinds of foreign graduates:
  1. There are those that studied in Africa or other developing countries, e.g. Ghana, Benin Republic, etc. For these people it’s not really a big deal adjusting to Nigerian life, because, luckily for them, their universities are closer home, geographically and culturally.
    The next two kinds are those I want to focus on.
  2. There are those that travel abroad to the Western countries for undergraduate and in some cases, postgraduate studies. Usually they tend to spend an average of 4 years abroad and once they are done, they’re back to Nigeria. Most visit Nigeria fairly often during holidays like Christmas.
  3. The final kind are those that are also in Western countries but not primarily because they had to go do university education there. They are probably there because they moved there with family. In this category you find those that moved when they were probably 8 or 13 yrs old. Majority of them probably don’t visit Nigeria often. Most also usually have plans to go back to where they are based after the service year.
Very soon you will understand why I have made this distinction between the different kinds.
Basically when you get to camp, some fellow corpers will ‘beef’ (hate on) you because you are a foreign graduate. Not all, but some. It’s not as simple as it sounds. Because you didn’t study in Nigeria, there are preconceived notions about you even before they’ve met you. Your father has ‘chopped’ his share of Nigerian money / national cake, and used the money to send you abroad to study. Whereas they’ve been through thick and thin hustling through lectures in uncompleted buildings called classrooms. And here you are with your foreign degree, with no understanding of what suffering means. Blah blah. No I’m not making this up. I actually overheard someone say that at camp about foreign students. So there is that resentment that you need to be prepared for. People have inferiority complex issue, and their bestest way of dealing with it is to hate on you. Simple.

Apart from maybe your appearance, the first thing that will give you away as foreign is your accent, especially if you belong to category 3. A lot of people will advise you to tone down the accent once you are in camp, so you can fit in nicely with no troubles. It’s your call. If you can do the Nigerian accent, why not? If you can’t, don’t allow anyone to steam out their jealousy on you. One major issue with most Nigerians is that they don’t understand that there is a distinction between types 2 and 3. One Corper (who eventually became my good friend) in camp said to me angrily one day, “ I no understand how person go study for oyinbo man land for 4years then come back dey form as if no be Nigeria im grow up”. Pardon my pidgin, the way he originally said it was very funny and conc pidgin. By the way, I get dissed for not being good at pidgin, and I’ve also been accused of ‘forming’. Anyhoo. Back to story. 
I had to explain to the guy that the person he was talking about had left Nigeria for 8 years, and you don’t expect him to come back and suddenly start flowing in your slangs. Don’t get me wrong – the fact that somebody schooled in New York, for example, does not mean they don’t have razzomola tendencies and naija slangs. In fact London for example can make you so ‘razz’, depending on the people you hang with. So my point is, not everyone travelled and stayed around mama kafaya’s kitchen in Chicago or Peckham. Not everyone travelled abroad straight to university. Some moved there when they were younger. Therefore you can meet a type 3 in camp who doesn’t have much clue on the processes of razzmatisation. If you are such, prepare, because, thou shall be beefed continuously. 
The saddest thing though is, when you are in another man’s land, you are not totally accepted. Then you go to your so-called fatherland and some of your fellow citizens don’t accept you either. Makes you think. So where exactly is home?
Ooooook I think it got too deep there. Let’s keep this jovial. 
Anyways, my advice for you is to go to camp with a humble spirit, and relate with your fellow Nigerians, regardless of what you go through. Personally I tried my best to have this spirit in camp, and when I was being hated upon, I reported it to the camp authorities. They took necessary action by announcing it at one of the morning drills, imploring Nigerian students to welcome foreign ones with open arms , etc.
I should point out that the beefing ones are those with pea-sized brains. Not all Nigerian Corpers are like that. In fact, anytime I discussed my unpleasant foreign student issue sagas with my Nigerian corpers they were very surprised. Many liked overseas accents and appreciated them. Many would asked me and a friend to say a word and they would try repeat it after us.

So on the accents issue, I beg, if you have a posh accent as your normal accent, keep it, it’s not your fault that someone else doesn’t . Or maybe they do but don't feel the need to use it. It's their issue, not yours. Let them beef you until they’re red in the eye. On the other hand, if you can do the naija accent, you may want to use that too. It’s your call. I do know some friends who are considering NYSC that do not even know how to do Naija accent well. Some people will think they are fronting. But is it their fault that they left Naij when they were young and just didn’t take interest in the accent even while abroad? Anyways, in my opinion, best thing is to bring both your posh and Naija accent, so you can switch as occasion demands. Actually times will come when your ‘abroad’ accent (lol) will just come out without you knowing it. Don’t worry, just switch immediately as you notice. If you want.

TOP TIP: try go a few weeks or months in advance, before the NYSC camp start date. This will help you acclimatise / familiarise yourself with the Nigerian people and the culture. It will reduce the whole shock element, especially if you have been away for years. Don’t be like me. I went to camp just a few days after arriving from ‘abroad’. So adjusting the accent was harder. Or you think the abroad naija accent you speak with your fellow naija college mates abroad is the real naija accent? LOOOL. Nahhhh. Wait till you get here. Real life Nollywood sturves. (OMG, I have started saying 'sturves'!)

I prefer to stop here. Feel free to ask any questions. I thought I would be able to say more but I don’t want to air too much dirty laundry. I want to know your take on this. Feel free to disagree with any point I raised. Let’s learn from one another.

IN THE NEXT POST we should talk about what happens towards the end of camp, at the end of camp and after camp. One day the overall ARMY Camp Commandant made a comment about making sure we enjoyed camp life because that was the only enjoyable part of NYSC, and that after camp our woes would start. We all murmured and quickly rejected him in Jesus name, in Allah’s name, in every name we could. Little did we know that his warnings had an iota of truth.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


This may be my favourite part of the blog so far.

I expect you’d like to know what you would be doing for the 3weeks in camp. I will try as much as possible to give you details of daily activities and possibly something like “A day in the life of a Corper at camp”.

The first week is usually very different from the second and third weeks. It’s usually the most stressful, for the following reasons:

- You are just starting the camp and you’re not yet used to it. So, this is the week in which you try to get used to waking times and baking your skin in the hot sun.

- On the 4th or 5th day of the first week, you will be sworn in officially as a Corp member. This is a thoroughly military event with Government dignitaries in attendance, so for about 3 days you will be trained hard on how to do parades. You would be on the parade ground in the sun for at least 3- 4hours at a stretch twice a day. Even on the swearing in day, the dignitaries will take their sweet time and come fashionably late, resulting in you standing for like 1 extra hour in the sun sweating and frowning. In my camp, the General Camp Commandant was kind enough to let us sit on the grass while we awaited the arrival of our ‘beloved’ government officials.


Monday and Tuesday – Registration

- 4.30am – you are woken up around 4.30am. There is something about camp life which I haven’t mentioned so far. It’s military life, so everything is regimented. So, for example, you are woken up by the sound of a bugle, something like a war cry tune, played by a soldier. A bugle is an instrument that looks like a hybrid of a trumpet and a horn. See picture below. On hearing this you are expected to jump from bed and put on your whites and tennis, and run to the parade ground for morning drills. 10 minutes after the bugle has sounded, the man-o-war peeps (about 15 of them) come singing with their konga drums and gongs to wake you up with songs such as:

Ole o le gbelu wa,

Aago merin lawa ji,

Aago Mefa loleji

(Translation: a lazy person cannot live in our town; we wake up at 4am, a lazy person wakes up at 6am).

Few minutes after that, soldiers come screaming, blowing deafening whistles and banging doors, “If you’re sleeping you are wrrrrroooooong”... “Get Ouuuutttt”....“If you’re inside you’re wrrrrooooooong”, etc. The female soldiers enter the female rooms and male ones go into the male rooms. They chase you out screaming on the top of their lungs. At this point you want to make sure you are running out. If you are late to the parade ground (even if just for 5mins), you would be punished by the soldiers ( a frog jump to the field to join your mates). It’s horrible. But they do develop your butt, gluts and leg muscles. I came back from camp toned. ;)

Actually you probably wouldn’t be waking up at 4.30am. Many people wake up as early as 3am to fetch water and have their bath, and they get very noisy as they bathe by your window. So their noise wakes you up early anyway. I personally preferred sleeping till I heard the bugle, after which I brushed my teeth (with Eva bottled water or pure water!), rinsed my face, then changed into the whites and ran off to the field (all in about 10mins). Bathing can always be done after exercise.

- 5am-6am – By now you are on the field. You will line up according to your platoons (see 2nd post for the meaning of platoon). Basically this period of the morning is to give you details of the day’s activities. You start by praying (platoons do it in turns). So on first day, No 1 Platoon sends 3 representatives to lead the whole camp in short prayer – 1 Muslim, 1 Christian, and 1 more person to recite a meditation (could be an inspiring poem or something). The next day, it would be No 2 Platoon’s turn, and it’s rotated like that till you leave. I remember when it was my Platoon’s turn, the girl that did the Christian prayer went on and on until she was tapped by officials to stop. Some serious fire-fall-down-on-enemies prayer. Serious early morning comedy.

Anyways, after that, you sing the National Anthem and the NYSC Anthem (they teach you this). They read out announcements, such as “It has been observed that those in the female hostels are bathing outside...if you are caught, blah blah blah; it has been observed that, people are poo-ing on the grasses...etc”.

Then they read out the schedule for the day. By 6am everyday, everyone is called to attention and all stand still for the bugle man to play some tune, which signifies that Nigeria is about to wake up. The flag is lifted up gradually on a pole as they play the tune. This same bugle tune is played at 6pm every evening, apparently for Nigeria to sleep. This time the flag is gradually brought down. At 6pm, wherever you are, you stop anything you are doing, standing still until soldier bugle man is done with his blasting (which lasts about 60 seconds or so). Even hawkers all stop. If the soldiers catch you not standing still, ah, it’s trouble. It’s supposed to be a time when you remember those that laid down their lives for Nigeria in wars etc.

- 6am to 7.30am-ish – You do morning exercises such as “I do like this, I do like this, I balance well”. LOL. You will enjoy it. I loved the way the soldiers turned everything into music: “Small belle, nothing dey inside, big belle, something dey inside”. We used to chant/sing that when doing this exercise where we have to bend slightly, hold the belly and do quick jumps at intervals. Each platoon will have about 3 platoon commanders (soldiers). Each platoon does different exercises. How interesting your exercises will be will depend on how interesting your platoon commanders are. In my camp, we were all allowed to jog out of the camp premises a few times. We went out in troops by platoon basis, guarded by soldiers and man-o-war and stormed the little village. You see the little village kids running out, just to see you. LOL. They think Corpers are like the best things ever. Even the adults abandon their work and come out to look at ‘Corpers’ jogging. Imagine 2,000 of you on the streets of a village/small town. We caused mad hold up. The jogs were great and interesting because you’re not just jogging; you’re also singing as you jog. The soldiers and man-o-wars led the songs, while we responded:

See how den dey look us,

See how den dey look us like Otondo.


Eeeeee Corpers go fight, Eeeee Corpers go fight,

If allowee no dey Corpers go fight,

If allowee no dey Corpers go fight.


Chop Akara dey go, moinmoin no dey,

Chop Akara dey go, moinmoin no dey


Soldier: We keep on movin’

All: Movin’

Soldier: We keep on movin’

All: Movin’

Soldier: Are you tired

All: Noooooooo, No!


Dem go born wor-wor,

Dem go born mumu,

If corper marry soldier

Dem go born wor-wor


This is the way I wanted to be oooo

This is the way I wanted to be

Eeeeee I want to be a corper

Eeeeee I want to be a corper

Eeeeee I want to be a corper

This is the way I wanted to be

TIP: try stay with people you get on well with in your platoon. You will laugh together, gist, etc while jogging and this will make it more interesting for you. Some of the guys in my platoon were simply awesome- they helped and tucked my arms in theirs, left and right, when I got too tired and out of breath. We all tried to help each other. There was also an ambulance around, with Red Cross people, just in case of any emergencies.

- 7.30am - 8.55am – What you do during this time in the first week differs from the final 2weeks.

First Week - During the given time, you are to have your bath and breakfast. You don’t have the time to queue for water, so if you’ve made adequate arrangements with your hostel attendant, she would have brought your bucket of water by 7.30ish so you can bathe yourself. Alternatively you could bathe before they wake 3am.

Breakfast-wise, best thing to do is to go straight to mammy market after exercises, eat there or get your breakfast to take away, then head to your room to get ready. For those that prefer to eat camp food, the bugle sounds when food is ready (usually around 8ish or earlier) and you go join the queue.

By 8.55am, the bugle sounds again repeatedly and this time it’s for you to get on the field for parade. Few minutes after the bugle sounds, soldiers are back with screaming and whistles, asking you to getttttt out. One particular soldier used to curse with a fake American accent using the f word, s, mf, etc. LOL. So again, try avoid all that stress by leaving your room immediately you hear the bugle. Even if you are sick you are expected to go to the camp clinic, not stay in the room. They want absolutely no one in the rooms, to avoid theft. See a video below I filmed from my phone one day when I was getting chased by a soldier to the parade ground!

Still on the first week: you spend most of your days on the parade ground, learning how to understand and obey military commands, how you salute the governor and dignitaries when they come for your swearing in, how to remove ‘head dress’ and give 3 hearty cheers, etc. You rehearse and rehearse in the sun for those days - morning, afternoon, evening. This is the part where you get so black beyond recognition, you sweat like mad, you see people faint in the sun, either faked or real. Please DO NOT skip breakfast.

Me I just went to the back, told a soldier I wanted to faint and sat on the grass jejely. He screamed and screamed but I lied on my back and faked a serious exhaustion. Actually I was very exhausted! But maybe I exaggerated it. I can’t come and kill myself.

Later after the whole parade I complained to the soldier that it’s not fair to be spread in the sun like this now ...Ah-an! He was kind enough to explain to me that it’s always like that in the first week. And he was right. Things got lighter from the 2nd week.

2nd & 3rd Weeks

By now your body is getting used to the regimen. The soldiers are nicer. Your early mornings are freer. Exercises now end by around 7am, and you are left till 9 or 9.30am before you are called out again. Basically these last two weeks are mainly for social activities, such as football, volleyball, drama, music, cultural dance, cooking, quiz and beauty pageant competitions. Platoons compete against one another. So, the mornings immediately after exercises are the times you have for rehearsals. Actually, your platoon commanders will exempt you from the exercises if you have to go rehearse for your drama, dance or anything you need rehearsals for. After you’ve had your bath and breakfast, you get ready for lectures. Lectures typically start in the last 2 weeks from around 10ish (am) till 1ish (pm). As usual when it’s time for lectures, Mr Bugle man blows his stuff and soldiers hustle you to the field for lectures. Same as morning routine, the same way they scream.

My camp had no halls so we had lectures while sat in white plastic chairs under huge trees which served as shades.

The lectures are not that bad to be honest, especially if you sit with your new friends or camp booboo wannabe. I don’t want to give any advice that will be anti-NYSC lectures... but in order to avoid sleeping or boredom, take playing cards with you, or even paper ludo. There are over 2,000 of you; they can’t keep an eye on all of you. I was at the lectures most times when I wasn’t running to the toilet but I don’t remember a thing. All I know is that some EFCC guys came over to tell us about their work, the King of the town came with dancers, charity groups came to give presentations, etc. There were also Yoruba lectures for those that didn’t understand Yoruba, because a lot of non-Yoruba Corpers were posted to the Yoruba town where I camped. If I had camped in an Igbo land for example, we would have Igbo lectures.

Some of the lectures are very, very important though. NYSC officials will address you and explain the steps you need to take after camp when you receive your posting letter to your Place of Primary Assignment (PPA). They will explain all the secretariat journeys you need to make, etc. I forgot to mention that you are addressed by a Public Address System right from the morning assembly– in case you were wondering how 2,000+ Corpers would hear whatever they were talking about. They speak into microphones, you have speakers around you so you hear everything clearly. This could differ from camp to camp though.

In the 2nd and 3rd weeks, after lectures, you go for lunch and chillax till about 4. You don’t even have to come out at 4, it’s your choice. From 4, sports competitions begin, so you come out to support your platoon if you wish. Girls do volleyball, guys do football. Then in the evening around 7ish /8ish, you have the drama and dance competitions by platoon. You need a lot of time for rehearsal so most of your afternoons would also be spent rehearsing. It’s good to get involved in these things if you can be bothered. You meet new people and make friends this way.

If you’re chosen as one of the Corpers that would march or bear the flag at the final parade on the last day of camp (with dignitaries in attendance again), most of your free time will be spent rehearsing with the soldiers.

Also from 6.30ish till 8ish (pm) everyday, they have NCCF (Nigerian Christian Corpers’ Fellowship), in case you prefer that. That’s where most people go for Sunday service. On Fridays Muslims have times set aside for mosque. Saturday evenings were mostly for parties sponsored by companies like MTN. You are still required to wear your otondo whites, not mufti.

On Sundays you are allowed to wear mufti but only until 6pm, after which you will be harassed to change back into your prisoner whites.

So as you can see, 2nd and 3rd weeks are the most relaxed. In summary, here’s a schedule for a typical 2nd and 3rd week day at camp:

4.30ish : Wake up

4.45ish – 6am : Devotion and Announcements

6am-7.30amish : Exercises / Drama or Dance Rehearsals / March Rehearsals for those chosen to

march on final day

7.30am-9amish : Breakfast, Bath, etc

10am-1.30pm : Lectures

1.30pm till 4ish : Lunch, Rehearsals, etc

4pm-6.30pm : Sports competitions

6.30pm : Dinner

8pm-10ish : Social activities such as drama and dance competitions

10.30pm : Lights-out!! (Uncle Bugle blows for you to go to bed and soldiers make sure you are all in bed by screaming as usual. By this time most of them are drunk, high and extra crazy. Lights are switched off and you MUST sleep or lie in your bed or else they keep blowing whistles until you do so. Then you sleep with headaches)

Most people stay in Mammy market socialising from around 6pm till lights out time. It all depends on your preference. Social activities are not compulsory, but they are very interesting and a good base for room gists.

This is what a BUGLE looks like

Lectures under the tree. See people concentrating - NOT!

Video below: afternoon parade call. Listen to the soldiers screaming "Go go go!". See how you must run.

COMING UP NEXT: CAMP ‘BEEF’ FOR FOREIGN STUDENTS (you think all fellow Corpers are happy that you studied abroad?)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010



I did promise in my last post to share my list of things to bring to camp. Let’s start on these first:

- Mosquito net- it’s cheaper and easier to get them here in Nigeria. If you’re getting a treated net, listen to these pearls of wisdom. Make sure you SPREAD IT OUT for about 2 days before you leave for camp. A lot of us didn’t read the instructions that came with the nets and we didn’t spread outside before using at camp. People had face rashes, itchy eyes, etc. As for me I was feeling dizzy inside the net so I had to remove it and wash the next day to reduce the strength of the chemicals. Treated nets are always better because they are like sort of repellents, and should repel bed bugs (in case there are bugs around, LOL, I know!).

- Insect repellent cream or spray (you can get from Boots if you’re in the UK). If your camp is like mine where you sit under trees for lectures, activities, etc, organisms will love your ‘abroad’ blood and suck it well. Repellents will keep them away, even mosquitoes. Buy ones that will last for hours so you can use from start of day.

- Baygon spray or any equivalent insect sprays will also come in handy.

- DRUGS – not illegal stuff oh. I’m referring to Paracetamol, Ibuprofen etc. Then IMODIUM. Trust me. Using that latrine 3-5 times a day is not cool. You’re changing environments so there’s a good chance you might purge after feasting on camp or mammy market food. Please, please, please don’t go to camp without Imodium especially if you have sensitive tummy. Imodium was like gold after flagil wasn’t working for me. I had to pay like 1k at the camp clinic for a staff member to buy a pack for me from a pharmacy outside the camp. You might not even need it in the end but it’s better to be prepared for eventualities.

- Bath pack, personal hygiene pack, bath slippers and DETTOL, the big family-size bottle. Talking about bath packs, I advise that you use soaps, and not these liquid, moisturising ones like DOVE. This is just a personal preference though! The reason for this is, those liquid bath wash things we use in colder climates are meant to moisturise your skin. In hotter climates like Nigeria, you don’t need your bath things to moisturise you. You need something to keep you dry and prevent sweating. At camp you will be doing physical activities, getting punished by soldiers by squatting (lol), etc. You will be in the sun most of the time. You will sweat and sweat. So I discovered using soaps kept me drier than my good old DOVE body wash. Sometimes you won’t even need to use body cream. Most times I just sprayed my insect repellent on my hands and legs after bath. Body creams will make you sweat a lot. Don’t forget the deodorants too, they’ll keep you dry.

- Bucket – you can always get this from the camp market from around 400 naira.

- Bed Pack – pillows (if you must use one), pillow case, blanket, bed sheet and cover cloth. This is my advice: buy a blanket and wrap it around your mattress. After this then spread your bed sheet over it. I advise this because you don’t know where that mattress has been. Seriously. Don’t take chances. Maybe I’m being extra...but prevention is better than cure.

- Food Flask and Cutlery – if you prefer camp food to mammy market food. Very unlikely though.

- ‘Provision’ – maybe just cereal and milk...but you most probably wouldn’t even need to bring them from home. Mammy market has it all.

- Your White Shorts, T-shirts and white tennis– people brought their whites from home and you’ll be glad you did! The NYSC ones are not the best. I got my shorts from Sports World (Umbro ladies’ white shorts) and white ladies’ fitting t-shirts from Primark (like £2/£3 each). White Tennis is around £2 at Primark

- Waist Pouch – this is where you will put all your important stuff such as money, phone, etc. Your pouch will become your BFF in those 3weeks. You will eat and sleep together, go to the bathroom together, etc.

- Torch / Flash light – another Best Friend. You will go to the 2am latrine rounds together. Also when your camp booboo sees you off to your hostel, your torchlight will guide your way.

- Passport Pictures – you will need these in camp so take 12 with you to be on the safe side. You can take passport pictures at the photographers’ shops in mammy market in case you forget. But you will pay more because they know you need it desperately.

- Important Documents – such as your call up letter, international passport, school results, etc. Basically all the documents you took with you when you went to register at Abuja. Most people made sure they gave these back to their drivers or parents to take back home after they finished registration. You don’t want to risk keeping them in your room. If you go to camp in public transport and have no one to take the docs home for you, then keep them well in your waist pouch, never in your box.

- CV – I didn’t need to take this with me but some people did. Sometimes employers go into camps and recruit a few lucky ones. You could have one or two copies of your CV folded into your pouch so that if you see an employer you can hand it to them.

- 2 mufti clothes and shoes or sandals for Sunday. You can bring more clothes if you want to contest in the beauty pageants.

- Hangers – to hang your underwear or little garments by your bunk when you wash them.

- LADIES: try as much as possible to bring black underwear so as to avoid any unwanted transparencies. Your white tees and shorts are like a see-through. Not everyone wants to see your pink victoria secret bra and pants combo on parade ground.

- Money – the amount you need depends largely on your lifestyle. Just make sure you go with more than enough, just in case of anything. I would advise a minimum of N25k for the 3weeks. Apart from feeding, you will need money to adjust your oversized khakis or buy new ones in camp market, and for a host of other things. On camp you will be given money by the government three times. First is given around the first week and it’s N1,500 for transport reimbursement or something. Then in the second week you get another N1,000. Then in the final week, a day or two before you leave camp, you get your “alawi” (allowee, i.e., monthly allowance as a corper), which for now is about N9,750 or so. That will be your monthly salary from NYSC for the next one year. No, it’s not a joke.


To this day I don’t know why NYSC camp markets are popularly referred to as ‘mammy market’.

Mammy market has ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING you need to survive in camp. They sell food (rice, indomie made in front of you, yam, eggs, bread, jollof, real pounded yam, eba, amala, egusi, ogbono, affang, suya, peppersoup, etc). They also have tailors, shoemakers, hairdressers/nails stands, phone chargers, photographers, videographers, etc.

Prices will depend on which state you camp in – for example, Lagos rates will be higher compared to Osun or Kano. 2 pounded yam wraps and egusi with serious meats cost only 300naira at my camp (yup... an equivalent of £1.50ish)!

Then there was this area my friends and I used to call “Sodom and Gomorrah” in the market. LOL. It was the beer, cigarette, palmy (palm wine) and everything-you-can-imagine joint, usually intentionally poorly-lit with banging loud music. We gave that area of the market the name because it sometimes got too rough at night, so much so that we tried to stay away. One night we saw lap-dancing! People that didn’t like that side of the market got their Smirnoffs from other more reasonable drinks kiosks.

The market is usually in the camp compound, in a separate area. It's not like it's outside or anything. Once you are in that huge camp compound, that's your confinement for the next 3weeks.

In case I have left out anything from that list, you can get it at mammy market.


Before ending this post, I need to talk about the rooms. There are different kinds of rooms – e.g. some rooms are like corridors, with over 150 people crammed into them, while some are small like a snail shell with 20 people packed in there like sardines. The latter was my type of room. Small room with 10 bunks for 20 people expected to breathe into each other’s nostrils for 3weeks. Look below at pictures of my room. The second picture was taken when my bunk collapsed one morning! Thank God no one was under when it happened. Seriously, it's a lovely, funny experience. At first I was mad and started ranting about health and safety. But now my ex-roomies and I just laugh about it every time we remember how it happened. It was like slow motion. LOL!


You’ve probably heard a lot of people arguing which is best. A lot of people say the top bunk is the best, especially if you are extra finicky and don’t like people sitting on your bed anyhow. But again you will have more challenges setting up your mosquito net, and dressing up. In my room there was practically no space for anything. We used to move between bunks by walking sideways and squeezing through. Yeah.

If you choose a lower bunk, it’s easier for you to tie your mosquito net. You’re also freer than the person on the top bunk and dress up more easily. But all and sundry will arrive on your bed during gist time.

So, verdict is, choose whichever one you want based on your preferences. I started off sleeping on the lower bunk but I had to move to an empty top bunk later because I was too close to the window and was inhaling all the cobweb and dust. I was also tired of strong wee-wee smells that greeted me by the window every morning.

Coming up in next post: Daily Schedule

The window I moved from!

after bunk collapsed!

before bunk collapsed....see how crammed the room is...

Night view of the entrance of mammy market.