My NYSC Documentary
Tales of a Lagos Corp-’er
On the eve of the 19th of August, I woke up to the epiphany that my days in camp will be coming to an end in a day less. This left me in a state of a hodgepodge as I was capricious about what lies ahead. I had merely spent twenty days and it was as though I just got mobilized to the orientation camp three days ago. I was reluctant to part ways with my newly-made friends.
My stint on camp seemed pretty much ephemeral which is not surprising considering the modus operandi upon which orientation camp runs in Lagos camp — touted as the best camp in the entire nation, hahaha…, feel free to argue about this at your will; obviously, it’s a patent fact.
The heyday was finally here on August the 20th. As usual, the sound of the bugle awakened every soul on camp, this time, the sound came by as mellifluous and signalled the end of 21 days on camp. The heyday had a verisimilitude with the last days in ‘forcados high school’ — beset with emotions.
In like manner, I was arranging my luggage in preparation for departure towards obeying the noble call to serve my fatherland. The final orientation camp parade went in panache expectedly, with each dignitary getting their fair share of ‘hair dress’(salutation) as fondly termed.
In less than two hours, the proceedings had been completed and consequentially we were discharged. It was now the time to attend to the main business — Place of Primary Assignment (PPA). I was anxious to know where I’d be posted to, a peculiar feeling shared amongst many of my peers. Although, for a significant few, this was not the case; they knew where they were headed. I had to wait for about half an hour to know my fate — no thanks to my initials starting with the letter ‘M’.
Finally, it dawned upon me that I had been posted to the University of Lagos. Wow! Amazing!! Eureka!!!, would have been the predictable reaction, inadvertently, that was not the case as my reaction suggested otherwise. The moment was that of nonplus, suggesting neither of excitement nor dolefulness — I was just in a blank state.
It was obvious that was not what I was expecting. I was hoping to get posted to the island, at a firm or company. Though, I was quick to accept my fate and avoid the feeling of schadenfreude as I believed that was God’s plan for me. It turned out to be the best option I could’ve wished for.
Alas, this was just the beginning of a new adventure in the life of a rookie Lagos Corper.
AN EXEGESIS OF MY UNILAG EXPERIENCE
It was no longer news that my PPA was in the Research Management Office (Research and Innovation Office), UNILAG. Initially, I was nonplussed about how to fare but those thoughts were whimsical in nature. Fortunately for me, my major fear — accommodation and general living expenses — was abated and to a large extent ameliorated.
This is attributed to good fortunes as I had an Uncle who works on campus. I also lived with a relative, providing me with great support and relief. I have been pondering how to go about coping with the expensive lifestyle of the Lagos city putting it at par with the paltry stipend I’m being paid monthly which can barely cater for transportation fares in a month.
Grateful for fortune, I went about discharging my duties as a fresh Lagos Corper with enthusiasm and keenly delivered on deliverables. I made sure to be punctual, however, most times I end up being second occasionally despite getting to work as early as 6:50 am — no thanks to Mama Onibudo, as fondly called, as she often gets to work as early as 6:30 am. She gets me thinking if she sleeps at all… lol.
My expectations coming to UNILAG were numerous and I had a checklist of things I wanted to achieve before I go back to the trenches, lol. It is indeed amusing how time flies, within a twinkle, twelve months of the service year have come to dissolution. Verily, life is transitory and my service year has alluded to this fact.
My experiences at the Research and Innovation Office recapitulate my overall NYSC adventure as the first few months were highly eventful. It was as though they’d been avidly waiting for our arrival as I ended up enervated at the end of the day. Often time, I skipped dinner in favour of satiating my soporific desires.
Having actively participated in a series of workshops, grantsmanship seminars, and conferences, I was spared no time to lax around as I was instantly exposed to the nuances of research management and administration of a Research office.
From attending to correspondences to filing, dispatching, creating slide decks, working on databases and concept notes review. This was the case because the Research and Innovation Office was central to the core mandate of the University as it serves as the hub of innovation and technology which the University prides itself in.
However, there was a twist to the event in the latter phase of my service year as the incessant ASUU strike truncated, yet again, most of the institution’s activities — buttressing the fact that academic strikes have now become a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society. Regardless, if there’s one office that must not shut down, inevitably that is our office, R&I.
One astonishing fact about the office where I serve my fatherland is the amiable and affable character exuded by all staff. Everyone in the office shows a high level of interpersonal relationship skills and displays a high level of professionalism. I could not have wished for a better PPA. It was like a predestined call.
One of the moments in the R&I office I will forever relish was that of Valentine’s day — an idea birthed by me and was concurrently adopted and had been made to become a norm, a yearly event to foster healthy relationships in the office and appreciate one another. I chortled at the thought that I had laid down a beautiful legacy.
Though there are many other things to talk about, for the sake of conciseness, there will be the need for a pause at this juncture.
THE BEAUTIFUL STREETS OF LAGOS AND THE MYSTERIES OF THE ‘IYANA-OWORO’ BRIDGE
Indeed, the Iyana-Oworo bridge remains one of my highlights of Lagos considering its significance and the fact that it was an inveterate part of my daily route. It remains one of the many mysteries I can’t decipher after spending about a year in Lagos mainland. If there’s one thing I was always pining for at the close of work, it will be in the prescience of what the state of traffic will be this evening.
I’d have soliloquised about the potential state of traffic only to realize that I had gotten it all wrong again. Not again!, I told myself. Oops…! The funny part is that on days when you least expected that there will be no traffic, there you have your crazy traffic. On very good days with little to no traffic, I will tell my Uncle, oh, looks like the witches and wizards are having their meeting or summit, hahaha…!
Lo and behold, those feelings are unexplainable. Also, noteworthy is the one radio show that my Uncle has made me develop a predilection for: “The Fix @classics FM”.
The sight of diligent, island workers early in the morning hopping and jostling for a seat in the popular danfo or in an extraordinary private car leaves me in a hodgepodge, I am left to ponder on what the future of the country beholds; the chants of V.I, V.I!
The Trip to Walter Carrington Crescent
I had previously applied for the Opportunity Funds Program scholarship some few months back. However, I got served ‘breakfast’, this was not enough to expunge my merit for the opportunity as I was subsequently considered worthy to be a part of the week-long BootCamp which occurs annually. Having applied for several other opportunities including the famous i-Scholar Initiative scholarship, I considered the EducationUSA offer a very important part of the process in the same vein. My experiences in the Bootcamp have been one of enlightenment and learning. I also got to connect with a lot of scholars seeking graduate school admission.
Indeed, the importance of being in the right circle cannot be overemphasized. My takeaway from the Bootcamp will be that “Resources are yourselves”. There is little anyone can do for you in these processes; the onus is on you to take those decisions and put in the hard work. Mentors and peers will only guide you and provide you support and direction.
THE LAST LAP
The nigh days are here. The vicissitudes of life are becoming more apparent. I had woken up to the epiphany of the dissolution of my service year in few days. Alas! the time has come for reflections and assessment of how I’d spent the past 10 months of my very precious life. How prepared am I for commencing the next phase of my career? I asked myself. Do the future look burgeoning, gloomy or phantasmagorical? I quipped.
Quickly, I had a flux of adrenaline but as ephemeral as I was also quick to return to normalcy after critically assessing how far I’ve come, the connections I’ve made, the skills acquired, the I-scholar Initiative award, EducationUSA membership, the volunteering experience, the relationships built, and most germane, my preparations towards graduate school.
Indeed, presenting my result, I have every reason to look back at the past year and give myself a plaque of kudos for having satisfactorily served my fatherland with diligence, passion and panache. I’m excited about what the future holds.
What an adventure! Dreams Come True, Never Give Up!
The End leads to a New Beginning. Don’t forget to clap and follow if you enjoyed the adventure. See you at the top! #tillweallwin #gradschool #storytime👏