This week we’re fortunate to have Jidenma share his NYSC experience with ideygo. Thank you Ofurum Jidenma.
I finished from the prestigious Federal University of Technology in Akure (Nigeria) from the department of Estate Management. I had chosen to stay back in school to continue my work at the university radio station as going home would not be of utmost benefit for me. One other reason I also stayed back for was to ensure that by the time the university make ready our notification of results for NYSC orientation camp purposes, I would easily get mine before the influx of crowd.
Getting the news of the 2017 batch ‘A’ pass out programme in the early days of April, 2018, I knew our time was drawing close. The coming days were used to get the necessary items and resources needed for the orientation program. I had gotten information from the previous Corp members on the needed materials. The time for registration came by and with the four options required, I chose Rivers state, Oyo state, Plateau state and Bauchi state. For some reason I wanted to serve in the north as that was the only region of Nigeria I had not been to. However, my preferred location would have been Plateau state as I have heard of the favourable weather and the exposure in terms of the social life. One other thought was to serve in Oyo state as it was close to home and serving in Ibadan of Oyo state could bring job opportunities especially after service.
I woke up to a call from my colleague who informed me of the posting already being done on the NYSC platform. I immediately logged in, and voilà, there it was, BAUCHI. I was shocked at first, as I never knew where Bauchi was, but somehow, I got the north I wanted, may not have been the preferred northern state, but it was still the north. Then I browsed and downloaded the Nigerian map to locate where Bauchi was located, saw it was not far from Plateau state, as a matter of fact, shares borders with Plateau state, some sort of relief I felt, “at least the weather should be similar to that of plateau state”, I said to myself.
The time came to get the necessary document from our various universities, and like I predicted, the influx of crowd was beginning to set in, I got mine without stress, related with my colleagues so we could get familiar with those of us travelling to the north. A lot of information was gathered on how to get to Bauchi. One would need to get to Plateau state first, then board another bus to Bauchi. Camp was to resume in two-days time.
I woke up the next morning as early as four o’clock in the morning. Had my bath, prepared myself and got my bag while I headed to the park. I had locked my room at the apartment I stayed and took the key along with me. I got to the park and met other prospective Corp members, many of which were also travelling to the northern part of the country, met familiar faces, and some, not so familiar.
By six o’clock in the morning our cars set out for the journey. It was a Toyota Sienna vehicle and I was sitting at the front with the driver. Five other passengers were in the mini-van; two in the middle and three at the back. While I was the only passenger heading to Bauchi, every other passenger, consisting of four prospective Corp members and a woman, was headed to Adamawa state. I had checked Google to determine the number of hours we would spend on the road, and Google estimated a twelve (12) hours journey.
We had gone barely two hours when our vehicle encountered a minor fault at Akungba Akoko area of Ondo state. After a few minutes spent fixing the vehicle, we set on our journey once again. I am not much of a chatter, however, the vehicle was made lively by a lady whose name is Dammy. She is quite loquacious and fun to be around. Making everyone laugh and sometimes bringing up controversial topics that led to arguments. One part of the discussion was when she said Odunlade; a popular Yoruba actor was her crush and she could do anything to get married to him if presented the opportunity, despite knowing that he is already married.
Few hours later, we got to Kogi state, and we had to pass through a not so busy road, as a matter of fact, the road was quite lonely. The driver said that most criminal activities such as armed robbery and kidnapping were always carried out in the area of the road. At some point of the road, we saw security checkpoints barricaded with drums and sticks and also noticing the presence of security officials such as the police. After about six hours of our journey, we got to Lokoja, the capital of Kogi state. The driver took a break at a restaurant and we all came down to ease ourselves of the stress.
We had not gone up to five minutes after the break than our vehicle encountered another issue. This time, the exhaust was sounding like that of a power bike, and it had to be fixed. We spent another half hour fixing the vehicle, before setting out on our journey. All through the journey from Akure, Ondo state, through Kogi state, the roads were not so smooth, however, when we got to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, the roads were amazingly smooth, it was like the tyres were finally free to express themselves.
In Abuja, the driver opted to pass through Kaduna instead of a shorter route which would have seen us pass through Nasarawa, however, the driver said the road through Nasarawa was not so good. That was my first time in Abuja anyways and it was delightful to finally be in the FCT. Sitting in front also gave me the privilege to see properly the famous Zuma Rock. I marvelled at its beauty and amazing structure.
Shortly afterwards, we were in Kaduna. The journey through Kaduna was very long and I noticed that ever since we entered the North, from Abuja, we have been encountering military checkpoints instead of the usual Police checkpoints we saw in the West. We spent about three hours within Kaduna South, especially within Kafanchan. At this point, it was getting towards evening.
While exiting Kaduna state and heading towards Plateau state, we could feel the change in the weather as cool air blew. Our thoughts were that rain was going to fall, however, the driver assured us that it was not rain, and that we were approaching Jos saying that that was the natural weather experienced in Jos. Finally night came and we got to Jos. I could see a burst of life around and it felt like I was in a familiar environment. Structures, businesses, cars, traffic and every other characteristics of a major city.
We got to the park, got an Inn to accommodate us for the night, before setting for our various destination the following day. While in Jos, the weather was different, people wore socks and don cardigans. The water from the tap was as cold as that brought out of a deep freezer.
The next morning, I was directed to the park where I would get Bauchi, while I bid farewell to my co passengers who were headed to Adamawa state. The journey from Jos to Bauchi was about an hour, and I was once again in a different environment, hearing people speak only Hausa. Communicating was a bit challenging, however, the message was sent. I also got a bus going to Wailo; where the NYSC orientation camp is located, luckily, a few of us in the bus were prospective Corp members heading to the same direction, some of which could communicate in Hausa.
We stopped at the camp gate and the air of another challenge breezed through my face. I finally saw myself in a strange land, however optimistic of an exciting experience.
Once again, thanks a lot, Ofurum Jidenma for sharing your NYSC story with us just like Mercy did. We appreciate it a lot because it shows your experience travelling in your own country. I definitely feel excited to visit more states the next time i visit Nigeria, just because of your story.
If you would like to share your african travel story with us, click here.