Though tough times may last for the night, joy comes in the morning. Leaving camp this Monday was indeed that morning for me.
Back in Makurdi everything had changed; most people living at the family house where I lived had gone to the houses provided for them at the places they were posted, while others had rented an apartment. All around me are new faces of corps members that had just returned from camp. I feel terrible, that feeling of a very old man, whose generation had all passed on and left only him on earth. He instinctively calls their names only to be reminded that they are dead.
I got to the office, but the reception I got from the secretary made me wish I never came I guess it was my looks, the big beards I had on I wouldn’t blame her for I have been getting strange looks from people since I came back. May be she mistook me for a kidnapper or one miserable beggar when I asked to see my oga Chris. ‘He is not around’ she said closing the door. So to avoid more wahala I left and went straight to a barber shop to cut my hair. Nigerians and stereotypes!
I met one of the big oga at the office on Tuesday, Mr. Philip, nice man; I feel it’s a trait in all Benue people. ‘I would find you a nice place where you can be attached, at least you would be getting money from there,’ he said to me as if he knows that I have been thinking of how to augment this 33k allowee. I just hope his words do not turn out to be like those marvelous 2015 campaign promises of Buhari. I can still remember how sweet it sounded, watching him on Channels Television that year, mtchew! I almost got into a fight with a friend for opposing Buhari, the ‘messiah’ we have been waiting for, that would save us from the supposed ‘shackles’ of PDP.Now, I regurgitate the words of professor Ebeze in my journalism ethics class at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, ‘Journalism is like a priestly calling, when you begin to practice, you must keep money out of your mind, always remember that your reward is in heaven.’ I laugh and just laugh again; I know he must be joking, because I know churches will go in extinction the moment tithe and offerings stop.
I can certainly say that most service benefits I heard people say, before I came to Benue state for service, NA SCAM. I heard that you may walk into a restaurant and eat without paying if you be ‘corper,’ if you enter a vehicle and offer to pay, the driver would decline saying, ‘ah copper ajuwaya, no worry na wewe. And they also said you can get lots of women for free, just wear the uniform na dem go dey rush you. Everything na lies, money still answers all things even as a corps member or worst. As a corper, you will be extorted by most commercial vehicle drivers. You may think you are wearing your corper uniform, but the fact is that what they see you wearing is a sign board that reads: ‘I am the latest Johnny that just came to town.’ If you mistakenly say I don’t know the place or oga how much is my fare? Then my dear, you have just slit your throat by yourself. Work wasn’t bad at all today, I was with my office crush; we have started to bound, she still looks as gorgeous as always, I wanted to tell her how much I missed her when I was in camp but the words wouldn’t come out.
Titus, one of the guys in the family house where I live, almost shocked the life out of me during this Wednesday morning devotion, when he refused someone using an android phone to read the Bible, insisting that it must be a hard copy Bible. I wonder why anyone who claims to have gone through the four walls of a higher institution can be this myopic in his approach to things; always putting up an attitude of being holier than the Pope. I felt education is meant to broaden the mind, and change a bigot or a fanatic to an objective analytical thinker. I just told him that next time he was to conduct the morning devotion; I will get him the early bible scrolls used by the apostles of Christ.
I met Oga Ayo today, this oga is in charge of written materials, and I am supposed to work directly with him. Judging by his looks I thought he would be mean, you know that typical Yoruba “boss” that never smiles, never speaks a word but nods at everything you say to him, he would always concentrate on his laptop and only peer through his eye glasses when he wants to bark at an errant. But oga Ayo is nothing close to this; he is quite friendly. I watched his conversation with a vendor who tried to sell him a health kit, ‘daddy, we are on promo’, Ah! I am still a young man, he protested. ‘Ok my love I will sell this blood pressure monitor to you for just twenty five thousand naira, but we sell it for eighty thousand naira,’ she said smiling. He stared at her with a grimace ‘why do I have an almost hundred percent price slash’ he said. When she continued with her persuasions, my oga suddenly burst out ‘ah my stomach! I think there is something wrong with my stomach’. He excused himself politely and never showed up again until she disappeared. This whole scenario got me thinking of the essence of a world class marketing degree or skills applied on someone who doesn’t have money or where to borrow to purchase a product being offered for sale. In Nigeria, ‘the economy is bad’ has become the new national anthem for anyone you turn to these days for financial favors. We now have the trend ‘Stingy Men Association, with the slogan: send me your account number let me see what I can do for you . Of course you will forever send your account number, and will never get assistance.
This Friday is the first time I witnessed the production of a news paper, at SKY LINE media where I work. It wasn’t easy at all; we started in the morning and ended late in the night. I’m working amongst professionals now, it’s so intimidating, but this guys are quite fun to be with. I didn’t stop laughing in the production room, the conversations were quite profane but everyone seems to enjoy it. I love this print media job so much although I’m not good at it, it is very challenging; I know I would learn from my colleagues explore and become a better print journalist.
I discovered that editors are indeed unsung heroes; they do all the dirty work behind the scene and never take credit for it. I wrote my first news story today and after it was edited, it so different that I couldn’t honestly lay claim to the story, yet my name was used as the byline.
The NYSC Batch A corps members aka the ‘coroner corpers’ passed out yesterday; I say a big kudos to all of you. I want to say a special thank you to all the papa’s and mama’s of all the corpers’ family house in Benue state, for their help and support to new corps members when they leave the orientation camp, with no family or a place to stay. I will make special mention of papa Tosin Onaolapo of AFCON family house. I could remember this sweaty, slender looking young man, on a washed black jean and dirty polo, on the roof top of the bus about taking us to Makurdi. He was carrying and tying the luggage of corps members, so I mistook him for the motor boy, and naturally I gave him levels. You know that attitude of a fresh corps member putting on the khaki for the first time with so much pride; I didn’t pay him the courtesy I should. When we arrived he also joined in packing our bags upstairs. For days we were fed for free. His exemplary style of leadership is unmatchable; he always made sure everyone was carried along. I can recall a Sunday he had to dress me up for church, when I was reluctant and not wanting to go to church. He is a motivator and a friend, at times I would annoy him, yet he would be the one to make the peace. Papa Tosin you can never be replaced may God almighty the rewarder of all good works, reward all your hard work and selfless service to corps members in family house