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Thursday, 18 October 2018

My NYSC Experience in Chanchanji, Takum LGA in Taraba State.

Primary Education is a realm,Secondary Education is another different realm, the Higher institution is another different world altogether and finally NYSC is another completely different World.  Though sharing my experience will give you a clue to Youth service life but this will not take the place of your own personal experience.

Taraba State was one of the states I least expected to serve in. It was my Third Choice. In fact I choose Taraba because it was the best alternative  to the far North options presented to me.

 But before my registration I had made up my mind not to do two things: one was never to reject wherever I was posted to and two not to be carried away by ungodly relationships. Yes this was my stand.

I had no option than to accept my posting. Even in camp, I refused to apply for redeployment though it would have been done through forgery.

Life in Camp

Registration in camp was slated to start from 21st of November, 2018. I travelled from Cross River to  Taraba Camp. It was a smooth ride but one thing was the problem. The driver told us so many unending terrible stories about Taraba state.

In fact His stories did not finish till we alighted. Came to find out these stories were true. There were some areas along the road that had been trodden down by violence. I held on and prepared my mind for the worst.

I successfully registered, got my bed space and met a few of my room mates. Staying in the hostel was quite interesting. This was the first time in my life to stay in a hostel that long (21 days).

I've never cherished life in the hostel. I was thinking on how to cope. I prayed that I shouldn't be kept together with a smoker. It happened that way.  My 21 days with my camp room mates were very exciting that we all wanted to serve in the same PPA which didn't turn out to be so. We were so nice to one another.

Camp experience was quite exciting, sometimes challenging and sometimes boring. Camp was like a semi prison. Nobody goes out until the 21 days elapses. One of the challenges I faced was to bath very early in morning in the cold with very cold water. It was harmattan season.

 We only put on shorts and T-shirt no matter the cold. It turned out that as the morning broke further the cold increases to an unbearable level. This alone made me seriously sick towards the end of my stay.

I really enjoyed all the trainings given to us by the soldiers. It was really a preparatory ground. The parade was one of the activities that caught my fancy.

 The confusion that comes to corp's members after a command was given was quite ridiculous.  Like removing of head dresses and replacing them, matching and our commander had a protruded stomach. It was all fun.

 I was in the football group though did not participate. Saed lectures were one of the most boring aspect in camp. You have to sit from 9:00AM to 2PM. In this lecture many people do sleep alot and i wasn't an exception. The only part in the Saed that was catchy to me was the practical aspect. I joined Agro- Allied Saed. I learned so much from there.

I Enjoyed every bit of SDG activities in camp though I was posted to Interior region I could not continue with the CDs group. We had so many exciting presentations and public speaking which I love so much.

Yes..camp experience isn't complete without talking about food. We ate three times a day but the food was apology. We went out with our flask whenever the bigo was blown.

There's a specific tone for food. When the bigo is blown, corps members from all nooks and crannies will be running to queue up in their respective platoons for food. The impatient ones will always want to be at the front irrespective of the time they came.

 Since their food could not sustain me couple with the rigorous training we usually had, I supplemented my diet by patronising the mami market. This was a small market were food articles, drinks and other things relevant to Corps members were sold. This was also a place were most guys go to spend all their money.

At the end of the camping, I was so sick with symptoms of malaria and typhoid that I had to manage myself until i got home and was treated. I was posted to Chanchanji. I made my way to my Ppa finished my documentation and left for the Christmas holiday.

Life in my Place of Primary Assignment

In my Ppa, I was still faced with cold challenge because the accommodation provided had no ceiling initially and windows where just covered with net.

Well, I had no option than to accept it and move forward. My PPA was GDSS Chanchanji. No allowance was paid to us except the Federal Government 19800.

They already had a chemistry teacher so I opted to teach ICT. I taught ICT in Jss1 ( A and B) and Jss3 ( A,B & C). One of the major challenge i had was that 98% of them could not read. Some didn't know how to spell their names. This wasn't a problem in the JSS classes only, it was a general problem irrespective of the class.

 Because of this I took it upon myself to teach these students how to read free of charge before going into my normal lesson and it turned out to be very rewarding. At the end of my service about 70% of my student knew how to read.

I engaged in extra lesson in another private school but was paid peanut to teach Chemistry from Ss1 -2 and Basic Science from Jss1 -3. Guess how much i was paid.... 3k. I trek to this 1.5 place twice a week. Well teaching was quite fun to me especially Chemistry.

The day of my departure my students saw me coming. They began to frown. Well, They didn't see me coming but they saw another Chemistry wahala coming. Well, I smiled and said in my mind "  I wish they knew what I wanted to tell them" .

When I broke the news, they felt like crying.... They asked me if the next person will be like me.... That's what I couldn't answered. Students are funny, they could be stubborn and yet they have you at heart.

There's scarcity of water in this area. The natives of this area do drink some coloured water fetched from the stream. So sachet water was my drinking water until the rainy season were the bore holes had water.

Mobile toilet(bush) was the home stay of this area. It was easier in the dry season than rainy season. Sometimes you have to walk almost a kilometre to get a comfortable place to defaecate because most close by lands have been used for farming.

Since I couldn't make money through extra lessons I embarked on a small scale groundnut farm. I didn't want to be idle. I  didn't make it as suppose as the yield turned out to be discouraging though I still got back my capital and few change left as profit.

Chanchanji is a community populated by both Jekun and Tiv tribes. Indigenes of this community have the advantage of learning  three dialects ( Hausa, jekun and Tiv).

My Colleagues in the same PPA

My stay with four other colleagues of mine were exciting. I started learning how to play the bass guitar from Corper Friday Ezekiel. Initially i wanted to learn Hausa from him but diverted and got carried away when he played guitar.

I started serious lessons at my leisure time and eventually bought my own box guitar. That was how I learned how to play the bass guitar. He usually help out  whenever the need to communicate in Hausa arose.

We all did things in unison. We were an Inspiration to one another. One of them was Anastacia. She was business  incline and hard working. She inspired me too to go on the groundnut farm. Through her I was inspired to enroll for Chartered Institute of Customer Relationship Management.

Abah Gabriel another nice fellow, will always want to help out irrespective of the inconveniences. We talk alot, share jokes and advice one another. From him I learned how to relate perfectly well with a neighbour. His philosophy has high esteem for neighbours.

We had the same vision of teaching our students how to read. He taught ICT too in Jss2 ( A & B). He always made things easier for us especially as he was TIV by tribe. He usually will liaise with the indegenes in TIV language.

Life would have been much harder without his presence. We together fought the use of vernacular in the school we served. Our coming to that school revolutionize everything. Indolent teachers became up and doing.

James Blessing was another nice neighbour a colleague in the same PPA was also fun to be with.

My Christian Life

My Christian life was not deterred. I enjoyed my stay with the body of believers over there. My church was about 45km from my ppa. I go there every Sunday because of security reasons and logistics. Pastor Gabriel was like a dad and a friend. He always helped in paying my way back which was a very strong back up for me. He is an exceptional preacher with an exemplary life. I've seen God vindicate his ministry countless times. His wife was very humble and welcoming. So was the church too.

The challenges I faced

Staying in the rural areas too can prone one to getting as many sex partners as possible because they take corpers at very high esteem but I wasn't interested in any. I lived my life singly till I passed out.

You must have wondered how good this place was. Well, it isn't as good as you think but my attitude was what kept me throughout my stay.

The area was really a no go area at night. Chanchanji has a large market where yams, groundnut and bambara nuts are sold. Because of this, every market day, fleets of trailers come in to buy these goods.

This also attracted heavily armed robbers to the area. They usually will rob the traders in the market in the afternoon. Though soldiers were deploy to the area, traders keep losing their hard earn monies to this dare devils. I usually did not move around anyhow especially at night.

Kidnapping was on the very high side. In fact, a politician was killed after he was kidnapped, same thing with some big shots in the area. The life of one of our corps member was one time threatened because of her refusal to mingled with the people of the area.

I witness strange things like people having a demonic seizure. When this happens those involved will be barking like dogs. They become extra powerful that even four strong men will find it difficult to pin them down.

When one person starts it, another person that has it continues and it goes on like a network. It has severally disrupted lessons in my extra Ppa. This happens only to females. In spite of all this, i still go there to teach.

I had accidents twice but God kept me saved.

I was a Precising Officer in a State constituency Bye Election

I told you earlier how a politician was killed by kidnappers. He was a speaker in Takum State conatituency. This led to a bye election for State constituency. Corpers where heavily involved. I happened to be one of the Preciding officers in one of the Ward in Chanchanji. This PO work wasn't easy for me. I did not sleep well for two good days just to prepare materials for the election. I was running away from it but it fell on my lot. Well, I used wisdom and did what the people wanted me to do but refused to collect their money. At the end we were appreciated with a little token. The area would have been tensed up but I  managed to control the situation with the support of my team mates. After submission in the Registration Area Centre, i ran like a mad dog home because the area couldn't contain us. There were gun shots all over the place but I thank God I arrived home safely.

From this bye election I learned that no man with clean hands go into politics. It is a dirty game. Even if you had good intentions the pressure will make you succumb. I learned that there's no difference between APC and PDP. They are only under different umbrellas.

The next day was when I had a terrible accident but came out unhurt. The cyclist who took me sustained a very deep injury that his bones where visible. God delivered me and I'm forever grateful to him.

Also, four days to my passing out,I narrowly escaped arm robbery attack while coming back from church. We were just coming when about six guys masked jumped into the road.
They were so close.The driver used his reverse gear and one of them was pursuing our car until he gave up.
We later turn  and went about 3km. We waited for  30 mins and then came back and passed

Since I wasn't the going out type coupled with the security challenge in the area, My box guitar was my closest friend. There was no electricity and poor network coverage. We charged our phones in public charging centres. I couldn't use my laptop since there was no electricity. I didn't give up on my blogging career. I was blogging with my phone. This lengthy narrative essay was typed with my phone.

I'm so thankful that God kept me throughout my stay and I left unhurt.

There are so many stories time will fail me to capture. I used to imagine myself as being fearful but after this experience I don't see myself that way.
I can live anywhere in the world. With a made up mind, you can go any where.

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