I was going to bore you with the definition of NYSC and all it entails. But I'll spare you. If you want to know more, just go to http://www.nysc.gov.ng/history.php.
Basically I want to focus more on foreign degree students or graduates who are thinking of going to Nigeria for this cause.
Why You Should Give it a Thought
- You can easily go back home to Nigeria at anytime to settle and work. If you finished school when you were under 30, you MUST do your NYSC service if you are to get any reputable employment offer in Nigeria now or in the future. The only way you can escape this is by coming to work in Nigeria as an expatriate of another country. So, find a multinational company to work for abroad and they may just happen to post you to Nigeria. Yeah right you wish! Even at that you know you would only be posted temporarily.
- My favourite reason: if you want to look beyond being a local champion in Europe or America (or wherever you are) and expand your future prospects and possibilities of public office appointments in and out of Nigeria by the Nigerian government, you should think about serving. Just imagine you in 10 years’ time. You have studied abroad and worked. You have been involved in ground-breaking research at Harvard or Oxford. Then one thing leads to another and your accompliments announce you to someone at Aso-Rock. You are recommended for the office of a Minister, possibly of Health. Then some opposition groups rise against you. They know you know your stuff. But the only thing they have against you is that you did not ‘serve’. Or they have proof that your cousin Rasaqi finished the service year for you and got allowances on your behalf. Then you say goodbye to the offer and go back to your white lab coats and geek goggles.
Of course not everyone gives a toss about these things so if that’s not your thing, keep your lovely job and life abroad.
But really, nothing stops you from serving for one year and going back to your base if you choose to.
Building your contacts – again if you are planning to get involved in the future of Nigeria or play any serious roles on the scene, you need vital contacts. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not just talking about politics. Say you are planning to come and open your big boutique or start similar business venture, you could use your service year as an opportunity to build your vital contacts and learn more about Nigeria. Yeah you may have grown up in Nig but trust me, things are not where you left them.
I know I've left this to the last reason but it's one of the most salient reasons. During your service year, regardless of where you are posted, you will have the opportunity of getting involved with a local government area where you can make a difference (something like charity work). Not only will this be great for your CV, you also get to mix with children and adults from poor backgrounds and impart something to their lives. You can start your own NGO and stuff like that. I met an impressive lady at camp who already had her idea of community work she would like to do during the year. I heard the government and NYSC can even support funds-wise.
Decision to ‘Serve’, the Right Attitude and Registration Process
To be honest, it’s not an easy decision to leave where you’re based abroad and decide you want to go home to ‘serve’ a country which, as many people say to me, hasn’t ‘served’ us well.
Moreso, you will agree that it must be tough for young people abroad who either have permanent residency visa, work permit visa or even naturalisation (dual nationality) to decide to leave their environment and go to Nigeria to ‘serve’.
But really it’s not as bad as people make it sound. Rather than harbouring the thoughts of servitude required of you, think of it as an opportunity to explore and tour the country. Use it as an opportunity to add to your CV that you worked abroad in Africa for one year (employers love it!). Take your camera (with care!) and take pictures of every stage of your NYSC journey. Make friends. Meet your future wifey or hubby (lol).
Looking at it all this way makes you enjoy the experience more. Don’t grumble or complain. When you see or go through anything that is appalling (such as having to do a ‘shot put’ in the bush by the latrine with your torchlight at 2.30am), just laugh it off. After all you are just like a tourist. You’re only in the camp for 3 weeks, not forever. Enjoy it.
If you are a foreign-trained graduate (i.e. you studied abroad), you go to the NYSC headquarters in Abuja to register (dates for this are announced on the NYSC website for each batch). You get to choose your preferred state of service. You fill out your first and second choice. Most likely you will choose Lagos and Abuja and it’s also most likely they’ll post you there. Nothing is guaranteed though.
The good thing about the registration is, it’s usually fairly straightforward to be honest. You can do it within 3-4 hours if you arrive early enough (say from 9am). Mine did take about 5hours because of my own fault. Basically the first name on my passport was different from that on my uni certificate. So, my middle name appeared as first name etc. E.g. if on your passport your name is “Eddie Fatai Murphy”, your cert should read those full names or simply “Eddie Murphy”, but never “Fatai Murphy”. Hope you got it.
Because of that little issue I had to go to Federal High Court to do an affidavit. YES. Lol. Naija peeps at NYSC HQ don’t joke with things like that. With the Naija blood in me I even tried using ‘long leg’ to avoid going to court but they insisted. Looking back it was so frustrating but now it’s funny. But anyways, the court was just opposite the NYSC office. It was a laborious process going to the court, making photocopies, waiting for the affidavit to be written etc. So, make sure you tell your uni to use the name on your passport on your certificate. And make sure there is consistency on your names from your GCSE or WAEC results to Uni certificate etc. Or else plan an affidavit journey into your itinerary. You pay around 200naira at the court, depending on who attends to you. They know you are JJC and your face is still fresh from ‘abroad’ so they may even say it’s 500naira or worse even more. You heard it now oh. It’s 200naira.
It’s always better to arrange a flight to Abuja if you’re not based there, and try see if any friend, family or foe can pick you up from the airport to the secretariat. Why? Because the cheapest taxi will cost you 4k naira one-way. Going back from the secretariat back to the airport could cost you less. Altogether prepare for at least 8k naira of taxi fare, to be safe. In my case, an old school friend of mine (whom I hadn’t seen in close to twelve years) arranged for his friend to pick me up. My point here is, build and rebuild your contacts. Use your Facebook. Find your old nursery 2 friend from Ogo Oluwa Grammar School. You never know when you will need their help, and they may need your help too. This Nigeria is funny. Little spending here and there and before you know it you’ve spent 10k in one day, when your monthly NYSC allowee is around N9,750. Even the highest you can expect to get paid monthly as a corper in the best companies is around 50k, and that’s if you’re really lucky or long-legged.
Also remember to photocopy aaaaaalllllll, absolutely alllll the documents you take with you. To be safe, do about 5 copies each. On the NYSC website they have a full list of what you are expected to bring to registration. They say 2 copies but do 5 or more to be safe! Walking up and down the Secretariat street doing extra photocopies in the sun and each time explaining why you are bouncing up and down to the soldiers at the gate is not fun at all. Take 12 passport photographs with you as well. Just to be safe. I didn’t know I would need one for my affidavit.So after the whole process you wait for about 5weeks or so, and you go to Abuja again to collect your callup letter to find out which state you've been posted to.
In my next post I'll give you a comprehensive gist of camp life, including arrival, settling down, the registration process, the fun, the soldiers shenanigans, the collapse of my sleeping bunk, food timetable, daily timetable, mamy market etc.