My head was spinning round when I stared at my letter. Naturally, I had tried working my posting to my place of primary assignment. A friend of a family friend had given me a number and I had called and eventually discussed in person with a camp official whereby I had clearly stated I wanted to be sent to Ado, furthermore I had mentioned I really didn’t want to teach. So it was with a touch of bitter irony that I stared at my letter and realized that both requests had been heavily shunned.
PPA: Iworoko Community High School.
I was keeping up an optimistic semi-smile but within me, my head was beating violently. In camp we had heard of Ado, heard of Ikere being nice too, heard of Iyin, of a certain snake island. But never, never had any of the names I was staring at on my form ever crossed my auditory nerves.
The place was noisy and filled with people. Other batch corp members were present with their buses and banners. They were there to aid us and they were from various fellowships, organizations and Local Governments. I approached one closest to me and showed him my letter asking for direction. He stared at the locations written, shook his head uncertainly and moved on without uttering a word. Another came, took the letter looked at it, and said… I can never forget his exact words;
“O boy, them fling you oh!”
I nearly fainted. All optimism left me and my mind hit a traffic jam. I finally met someone who seemed to have an idea of my destination. He directed me to a bus marked “Igede”. I went there and approached the guy who seemed to be in charge. He barely stared at my letter before nodding and waving me inside. I felt a little bit relieved, at least I was heading somewhere. I saw two of my platoon acquaintances- and by acquaintances I literally mean just acquaintances. I called Ebi, he said he had been sent to Ado, Called Solomon (one of my best on camp pals) and he said Ado too, again I delved into a realm of dejection.
When our bus moved, I wasn’t even thinking or really worrying, just staring blankly. Little did I know that I wasn’t going to see 90% of the people This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamasI knew in camp till our passing out parade (POP day).
Honestly, I slept off. Not out of calmness but out of exhaustion. When I woke up, the bus was still moving and we were all silent aside from the “old” corpers who were trying to convince us that Igede wasn’t such a bad place. The new Otondos, I figured, were all suffering the same level of hysteria as I. And for once, I began questioning myself. Dozie, why take the risk? Why didn’t you redeploy? Why not go back to Abuja where you know, already have a house and more importantly, already have an office eager to employ you? And for the first time in three weeks, I began seriously considering redeployment and started hoping it wasn’t too late.
We entered our local government, into a town called Iyin, and from the comments of the old corpers, this was the best place Irepodun/Ifelodun had to offer. It wasn’t really ‘exquisite’ but it didn’t look so bad and that combined with the comments made, made us who weren’t posted to Iyin envious. According to them it was just a few minutes ride away from Ado. The faces of those who had Iyin on their letters lit up.
After Iyin was Igede, where our LGA secretariat was located and our bus’ final stop. Frankly, I didn’t see the difference between Iyin and Igede in terms of infrastructure and I silently began wishing my letter had been “Igede”. At the secretariat, there were more corpers waiting to welcome us. I kept trying to ascertain where Iworoko was but for some reason, I didn’t get any definitive reply. The NYSC Local Govenmernt Inspector (LGI) and some other ‘dignitaries’, whose positions I didn’t pay attention to hear, welcomed us and then blabbed for some time about how wonderful their local government is. I barely listened, I have a very low tolerance for such forums. Incidentally the LGI there had been my Platoon leader back in camp. She had once accosted me on camp, even calling me on phone when I was trying to elude kitchen duties, so our relationship wasn’t exactly cordial. Furthermore, if you recall in my previous blog I did state that my platoon were rock bottom in rankings, a feat that didn’t go down well with her. Hence, I tried as much as possible to avoid recognition by her.
After all the frivolous lectures, a bus came to take us to NCCF family house and I joined in. When we got there, the ‘Papa’ welcomed us, giving us directions and useful advice. He also told us the rules of the house including rules such as:
- No wearing of shorts or sleeveless shirts, no trousers by girls except the khaki trousers.
- Before someone could enter a room designated for the opposite sex, the person had to shout “Testimony” and then wait for the response “No testimony” to certify everyone there was properly dressed.
I laughed at the later. I thought he was joking… he wasn’t.
The rules made three girls hiss, pick up their bags and leave. There were other rules like one that restricted a male and female solo communication outside. It didn’t bother me, my excessive friendliness had hit a hiatus as I was still trying to find my feet. Most of the time I spent in that house, I was withdrawn and phlegmatic.
I should state that despite the rules, I was really touched and impressed by the hospitality presented us by the NCCF people. Those fellowships play a very vital role in the NYSC service program because I personally frankly don’t know how I would have gone about my posting had it not been for their shrewd guidance.
I asked the Papa if he had any idea where Iworoko once, and for once I got a sensible response. He pointed me out to a lady who was going that way and would lead me the next morning. I also met Onyeka, my batch mate who was also posted to Iworoko.
The next morning we boarded a bus who charged us N750 each for a to and fro journey. That far? I wondered. She explained that Iworoko alongside a group of other towns such as Are,Afao and Igbemo were part of the “Ifelodun” part of the local government. For some reason, there were no roads connecting Igede directly to those parts hence we had to pass through Ado city.
With fingers crossed we began the journey. We had barely passed the state university, Ekiti State University (UNAD) when I saw a signboard “Iworoko Community high School”. I was stunned. Could this be possible? Could the place I feared be merely a stone throw from the capital? And then our guide confirmed it when she announced “Iworoko people, this is your place”. And the bus drove in to the compound.
I wasn’t listening to the “Ah! You guys are lucky oh”, “Wow! This is Ado na” “Oh, Very, very close to town”. I wasn’t looking at the envious stares from my colleagues who hadn’t reached their destinations yet. I wasn’t evaluating the school’s miniature structures. I was just smiling with huge relief and profound joy. Adjacent town and a student environment? Now I was sure I could make it work.
At the school there were five other new corpers who met up with Onyeka and I. We met the Vice Principal who seemed quite nice. He signed our forms, accepting us into the school. At the time the school had no Principal or Vice Principal Academics, this dude was practically running the school. He gave us some more lecturing, which like every other lecture I had been privy to in Ekiti, I barely listened to. He granted us the permission to travel back home and I did the next day.
I didn’t teach that month, or the next, or the month after next… but hey, that’s story for the next blog.