My journey to NYSC orientation camp and fear of the unknown

Upon graduating from university, I eagerly anticipated joining the mandatory one year national service with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). I shared my excitement with friends, but not all of them were keen to join immediately. One friend said he needed to hustle and build his career first. However, I wanted to get it done quickly and move on to the next phase of my life. So, I registered and subsequently got mobilised for a three-week-long camping/orientation.

Embarking on the journey to join the NYSC is more than just a transition to adulthood; it is a rollercoaster ride filled with unexpected twists and turns. 

Call up letter came stating that  I am to camp at Paikoro local government area camp in Niger state but after that three weeks, I am to complete my service in Abuja. I was happy and prepared to travel, as I had never been to Niger state before. I learned that Niger state is one of the largest in terms of landmass. I thought about how beneficial it would be for the federal government, to collaborate with NYSC, and  invest in agriculture to empower graduates so as to develop their future. This would surely boost the economy at both the federal and state levels.

Before setting off, a friend’s cautionary words lingered in my mind. He chose to prioritise his career over immediate service, urging me to hustle first. However, my eagerness to dive into the experience outweighed any apprehensions. NYSC is a mandatory scheme for all graduates except those over 30 years old, who are usually issued with an exemption letter.

The night before departure, a subtle warning on the NYSC documentation reminded us not to travel at night—a precaution that resonated deeply. Despite the allure of reaching our destination quickly, we chose safety over haste, breaking our journey when dusk fell. This lesson is applicable beyond NYSC, reminding us that even in seemingly safe spaces, vigilance is key.

As we embarked on our journey, camaraderie filled the air. While travelling alongside fellow prospective corps members, the sense of unity was palpable. From shared laughter to prayers for safe travels, each moment cemented the bonds of camaraderie that NYSC fosters. My journey was interesting, especially travelling with a friend also assigned to the same state. “Corpers on board” was boldly written on our vehicle, and people we passed hailed and prayed for our safe journey. We chatted and played music, making the journey memorable.

Yet, amidst the laughter and anticipation, a moment of stark reality halted us in our tracks. In the midst of lush landscapes, armed men appeared—a stark reminder of the world’s unpredictability. It was a wake-up call, underscoring the importance of vigilance even in seemingly serene surroundings. We stopped at a canteen to eat a sumptuous meal, enjoying the privileges of being a corper. Continuing our journey, we enjoyed the natural beauty of Nigeria’s landscapes.

However, amidst the tension, there were glimmers of hope. Security checkpoints manned by dedicated officers reassured us of their commitment to our safety. Their professionalism and integrity stood as beacons of hope on an otherwise uncertain journey.

The most unexpected twist came when a seemingly menacing encounter turned into a moment of levity. Startled awake by a tap on the shoulder, I found myself face-to-face with an armed security officer, his stern demeanour giving way to a shared joke. In that moment, fear melted into laughter, reminding me that amidst life’s uncertainties, moments of joy abound.

As we finally arrived at our destination, the journey left an indelible mark. From cautionary tales to unexpected camaraderie, each moment was a testament to the importance of preparation and vigilance. As I shared my tale with my hustling friend, who had chosen a different path, I couldn’t help but wonder what adventures awaited him. For in the journey of NYSC, every twist and turn is a chapter waiting to be written, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the bonds that unite us all. This is the essence of NYSC, preaching national unity and peace.

Apart from the interesting aspects of NYSC, there are numerous advantages that I believe will convince you to join the program. If you want to know the funny joke the officer cracked with me, I guess you should also prepare to go for your NYSC, so you can experience how interesting and memorable the journey was. As long as we take the necessary security precautions and avoid rough driving, NYSC ensures our safety because we are all dear to the government.

Haroon Aremu Abiodun is a youth corp member with PRNigeria center, Abuja, [email protected]