1. Getting there: Now that you’ve been posted to Mangu Camp and If you’re leaving from Lagos, I highly suggest you book your flight to Jos NOW! Ni Isin yi! Osiso! Come back to read this post when you’ve booked your flight because only Arik air flies from Lagos to Jos so you can imagine that there’ll be a mad dash for the seats. When I was going to book my flight, there were only two business class seats left at a going rate of ₦53,000 but my mum advised my to fly to Abuja and get a bus to JOS from there. Let me tell you something; IT WASN’T WORTH IT!
Here’s how I went; took a First Nation Flight to Abuja for ₦35,000 and arrived Abuja at about 1pm. Had to take a cab from the airport to Jabi park for a flat rate of ₦5,000 (and Ubers aren’t allowed at the airport). Got a seat in a ‘Plateau Riders’ Sienna minivan for ₦2,000 and we headed for Jos at about 3pm. I was so tense because registration in camp was ending at 12 midnight. The driver probably knew I was in a hurry so he was moving at the speed of light – I can’t really say how fast we were going because the speedometer wasn’t working. At about 8pm, we got to another park; Mararaba-Jama where I alighted and got another Minivan to Mangu for ₦400. The trip to Mangu was about an Hour and 30 minutes because we were stopped and searched at about 2 military checkpoints on that route.
I eventually got to camp at about 10 pm and the soldier at the gate made us carry our bags on our head and dance to the music coming from inside the camp. Assuming I took the flight, I would’ve arrived in Jos at about 2pm and remade a 30 minute trip to camp.
- Moral lessons: Make travel plans ASAP.
- Sometimes, mummy is not right.
- Travel light – Carry only things you will absolutely need.
2. Registering: I got to camp at night so registration wasn’t a struggle for me. The people that were there earlier had to join long queues. So if you know you were not born to suffer, you can wait out the queues and register in the evening. The only downside is that you’ll get snide remarks from some of the ain’t s**t NYSC officials but it doesn’t matter as long as you get registered.
3. Needs: You’ve probably seen many of these compiled lists of things you need in camp. While some lists are accurate some others are downright ridiculous. That’s how I made 24 passport photographs and 15 copies of my call up letter. Meanwhile, you don’t need more that 5 copies of your call up letter and more than 8 passport photographs. If you plan to redeploy though, you might as well make more copies. So what do you really need?
- Call up letter (5 copies)
- Green card (1 signed original)
- Statement of Results/ Certificate (1 Copy)
- School ID/Photocard
- Passport Photographs ( 8 copies)
- License of Full Registration (For Medical Professionals)
- Medical Fitness Certificate/ Medical report
- 6 white shirts (don’t count on the NYSC ones. They are like tissue paper)
- 4 white shorts ( I found the NYSC shorts useful)
- Thick leggings ( to be worn under you shorts)
- White tennis (It makes sense to get the ones made with patent leather because they are easier to clean. The NYSC ones I got fit like a glove and were surprisingly good looking just a tad difficult to maintain and the rubber shoes felt weird to so I ended up wearing my jungle boots most of the time.
- White socks
- Cardigans ( It’ll be good if you can get white long sleeve shirts because they made us wear our cardigans under our white shirts so we ended up looking like idiots)
- Black underwear
- Outfits for Sunday (Outfits for Miss NYSC if You’re into that sort of thing)
- Plastic Cutlery and kitchenware (Metal and ceramics will be seized at the gate)
- Water bottles ( it’s important to stay hydrated)
- Sunglasses (It gets really sunny in the afternoons)
- Provisions: Biscuits, Milk, Milo, Cereals, Garri etc
- Power Banks
- Bedsheets and Blankets
- Pillow (I took a throw pillow along)
- A file to keep your documents
- 2 sim cards (I suggest getting an MTN sim, I went to camp with only an airtel sim and practically had to climb the mountain to receive ordinary Whatsapp messages. Not to talk of streaming on YouTube)
- Mosquito nets aren’t necessary because there were no mosquitoes
- Medications; Antihistamines (Piriton, loratadine, fexofenadine) and Vitamin C. Paracetamol for aches and pains. Asthmatics make sure you go with your Inhalers.
- Cash. (₦25,000 will do if you’re conservative like me. There’s an ATM if you need extra cash.)
- Note that boiling rings and kettles are contraband and will be sized at the gate. Hot water is sold for ₦50 behind the hostel.
4. To go to camp early or nah?: Going early has it perks including getting a good room, getting a Bunk with a socket that works, a cupboard and just being generally settled in nicely before Swearing in ceremony. For those interested in joining OBS, Man ‘o’ war or being the chief medical director of camp Clinic, going early is a plus. I got to camp on the second day of camp so I had to look for a Bunk and had to practically beg some guy to help me carry it. Also got Bunk space right in front of the door adjoining the toilet/bathroom. You can imagine how that went seeing as some of the people I was camping with didn’t understand the essence of a door. I had to become a makeshift gateman.
5. Feeding: Man must wack right? When it comes to food it’s either camp food or buying at the Mami market. The kitchen serves a lot of beans, tuwo and porridge. After trying kitchen food a few times, I resolved to eat only at the Mami market because there’s always a queue and the food is never worth the queue. When they serve bread though, I collect the bread and take it to Mami to ‘risky’ it which is basically frying the bread with eggs in between. While I tried to explore new dishes, the Yoruba girl in me kept on taking back to ‘Iya Bola’ – she was my plug. Meals cost ₦300 averagely depending on your appetite.
6. Redeployment: If you plan to redeploy on medical grounds, kindly apply some sense and go to camp with ONLY a medical report and not with both a medical report and a medical fitness Certificate. Let’s not forget that faking a medical report is a crime and you can do time for it. You should also know that the surest grounds for redeployment are marriage and DG directive ground. On marriage grounds you’ll need to provide a marriage certificate while on DG directive ground, you either have a link or do it with your cash. Many people that applied on medical grounds got denied. Plus people that came with medical reports claiming Tuberculosis and Asthma were immediately given exeats but I’m not really sure if they eventually got redeployed. I personally was undecided if I wanted to stay in Jos or not, so I started working on my redeployment late but it still worked out seeing as I did it with cash. You’ll know if your redeployment comes through by checking the NYSC portal at 12noon on passing out day.
7. Leaving Camp: I wasn’t quite sure if my redeployment was going to come through so my exit strategy wasn’t solid. I booked passage on a deeper life bus just in case my redeployment fell through but it didn’t so I will looking for a way to get on the next flight to Lagos. I couldn’t make it because the only flight from Jos had already left and before I could hitch a ride to Jos town, the day was over and I had to stay in Jos for the night and headed for Abuja the following day. In essence, make contingency plans early enough.
All in all, NYSC camp is what you make it. Do you plan to have fun or not? It all depends on you. It starts off being stressful but as the days go by you get used to the rigours and experience the fun side. There’ll be lots of boring and condescending lectures just try to make the best of them; sift the wheat from the chaff. Try to get Involved with a SAED that you have interest in and all that good stuff…
Wishing you love and light.