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Thursday, 28 April 2016


So many things actually happened back then in November 2014, during my three weeks NYSC orientation in Umunya Camp, Anambra State. A lot of guys were trying so hard to win the heart of pretty girls they came across. Some were successful; others kept spending until they read the invisible back-off handwriting. The engaged girls sometimes played smart by pulling off their rings when they found a catch to flirt and mess with. The military supervision and time restrictions couldn’t completely cut out fun from the whole process.

One of the moments that made the camp days fun was the evening activities which brought everyone out to the open field. The various platoons usually had several activities to display, ranging from cultural dance, drama, comedy show to music performance. It was interesting to watch youths display talents gracefully. It was also interesting to know that some nocturnal fellows were usually far behind the crowd, doing their thing in shady corners. Yeah, many things happen when youths come together. They can serve in many ways, you know. Once, two guys were arrested in the bush and brought for trial in the camp court for possession of hard drugs. I felt for them as they were handed over to security agents.

Back to where I’m really heading; what happened in camp. Well, a couple of interesting things happened, likewise a couple of saddening things. There’s one experience that really stands out when it comes to the later. Let me start from how that day started.

The early morning trumpet went off by 4:30am which meant we all had to be up and ready for the morning drills. If one wasn’t fast enough to be ready, then the soldiers would remind such a fellow that he wasn’t in his father’s house. Because of time and the long queue for fetching water, I decided to postpone bathing till after the drills. I’d also wash off the sweat from the drills. Besides, the morning was really chill. So I brushed my mouth, slipped into my white shorts, shirt and jungle boots and doubled up to the field.
The thousands of us assembled on the field and our superiors directed the devotion before telling us the usual schedule of activities. Afterwards, we commenced our drills with Man O War officials guiding us. We did jogging, chanted crazy songs, did some more physical exercise and the chill was replaced with sweat. After the drills, we gathered again for instructions from our platoon officer. The officer announced to us that our platoon will be keeping security watch that day and so she needed ten volunteers. I raised my hand too. Ten of us were selected and while others dispersed, the ten of us followed the officer for further instructions. We were given tags and locations to keep watch over later in the day.

By then, day light was ripe and it was time for breakfast. The queue for food was really long and noisy. Even with my duty tag, I could hardly get special attention. Finally, breakfast was done with and it was back to bathing. The water supply system in the camp was a huge fuck up that day. Few outlets dispensed water and the rate of flow was miserable. Buckets lined again.  The flow ceased and we had to go and join an existing queue at another outlet. Unluckily for me and some others, the trumpet went off again and that meant we had to double up to the parade ground. Damn! That meant no bathing for me at the moment. Without wasting time, I tidied up and rushed to the parade ground. We were briefed for some minutes then told to dispatch to our various skill acquisition groups while those on security should go to their duty posts. Within minutes, I walked down to my security post and manned the area for hours. The sun came up and temperature was high. I could smell sweat from my armpit. I promised myself a good bath after the whole stress.
Finally, we were relieved of duty by 5pm. The ten of us later met, compiled our reports and submitted. By the time we were done, it was time for dinner. We queued up again for food and after dinner, I went to fetch bathing water, only to meet another queue. The length of the line could form a border around Kaduna state. While there, guess what? The trumpet sounded again! We were summoned for evening activities. Mehn, those evening activities could be time-consuming and in my dirty state, it wouldn’t be enjoyable. How would I be comfortable around my friends?

Several platoons carried out activities and at the end, the judges announced the winning platoons but I couldn’t feel the fun that night. Finally, the activities ended late at past ten pm, eating few minutes into light-out time. I was feeling so disappointed. Really? Are you going to bed like this? I asked myself. While approaching my dorm, I saw a guy rush out with an empty bucket. “Water dey rush for one tap o! na there I de go so.” I didn’t need further words. Rushing in, I grabbed my bucket and hastened in his direction. On getting to the outlet, my jaw dropped. If what I had seen in the morning and afternoon were queues, then this was their grand master! I contemplated going back to find other options but I decided to wait. Thirty minutes later, the buckets were moving okay and I was getting closer; like twenty buckets close. I smiled when I saw a long line of bucket behind me and I remembered I was once at the end. Progress finally. Fifteen more buckets. Ten more buckets. Seven more buckets. Seven more buckets to fetch mine, the beats changed. Out of nowhere, one black and tall soldier carrying a thick stick that could club a bear to death walked to the front of the tap. “Oya Move!” He commanded us. We started to complain that most of us had not washed since morning but this man was hardened. Maybe we expected he’ll later soften and allow us to fetch some more before leaving so we hesitated in complying. Unknown to us, we were wearing out his patience. It was when he raised his heavy stick up and smashed the line of buckets that we knew he meant business. Immediately, people picked their rubbers and moved, complaining as they left. I picked mine and went back some distance. I didn’t go. I was glad there were few other guys, about fifteen others still hanging around with me at some distance. The soldier would not leave the tap area so we brought up a plan. “This is not fair! They can’t even provide us with water. We are not animals o!” one of us complained. “Let us go and complain to the State Coordinator.” Someone suggested. That sounded like a good idea but it required steel balls. The State Coordinator was like the governor there. She was highly secured with state security agents and other security outfits but we were willing to give it a shot. We made up our minds to go to her quarters. Armed with out buckets, we left. The source of our strength was that we were many and so with a collective voice, we may win a little favour. I was in front with two other guys while the rest followed behind. “We cannot be suffering like this! Since morning I have not taken my bath!” Someone complained as we marched on. Wow, it sounded good to know that someone else was in my shoes. This was already some minutes to eleven pm.

We were getting close to the quarters. We could see it. Unfortunately, that was all we could do—see it. Some armed State Security agents approached us and we halted. Mehn, these guys were armed with bad arse P-90s! I was comforted with the knowledge that with our presentable number, we would gain some attention from them. But a surprise awaited me when I turned behind to see that all our followers had vanished and we were left just four! One of the superiors dressed in black suit stepped forward with a stern look that could fry a rock. With a commanding voice, he asked us, “What time is it by your clock?” First of all, the shock of seeing how few we had become was weakening enough. Now, these dreadful faces. “Sir  we came to say that we need water to take our—” He didn’t let us land. “My friend, listen to me. Before you say anything, let me have your state codes!” What? State Code? Mehn, it could have been better for us to frog-jump all the way to our dorms than to surrender our state codes. That could warrant serious penalties. In the morning, they may say we came to attack the Coordinator and read out our state codes for us to come out before all and face our judgment. For the first time, we all feared. “Please sir, we only came to —” He cut us off again. “Are you all aware that it’s past light-out time and you should be in bed? Before I count three, I don’t want to see anyone of you here!” That was the best thing I heard all evening. Sir, just one is enough, you don’t have to count up to three. I said in my heart before I vanished into thin air.

That night was very long and uncomfortable and I understood that being under training could be a hell hole. The following day, there was water and in spite the queue, I fetched enough for my bath and laundry. I developed a technique that prevented such future occurrences. Ask me what I did.


  1. To All Prospective Corpers,
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