It feels good to finally conclude this piece. It’s been over 6 months since I posted the first and everyday it looked more difficult getting the final part to completion, as so many things jostled for attention. Between the first piece and now, I have been humbled by the many positive responses I got. I always thought it was only those that commented that read it, until I met people who would pull me aside to tell me how great they felt the piece was. As I finally conclude on this, I really do hope that it will serve as a form of information to someone out there who earnestly waits for the clarion call. It’s been a pleasure doing this even as I look forward to writing of far greater things that God will bring my way in the years to come. Happy Reading
… Turning point – Rugged CLO
Barely two (2) months after I was appointed as an NCCF executive, my stay in Oyo took a final turn, which drastically altered the last few months. The incumbent Batch “A” set were preparing to pass-out of service, thus making it imperative for the Local Government Inspector (LGI – Miss R.A Bakare) to appoint a new set of executives. As their final CDS meeting day drew close, a few corps members, particularly at my lodge and PPA had made it a point of duty to torment me with the possibility of being named as the Corps Liasion Officer (CLO). Every time it came up, I always sought out creative ways to either change the topic of discussion, or turn the table around to them. However, when the D-day (7th February 2013) finally came, there was no way I could turn the table of the eventual outcome. As the LGI stepped up to disband the out-going tenure and commission a new tenure, I began to feel beads of perspiration on my fore-head. Starting with the office of the treasurer, she gradually called other offices and as she moved up the ladder, I was becoming more ambivalent (a part of me was relieved that I wasn’t called, while another part feared for the worst). As she got to the office of the CLO, it was as though she was dragging beyond the usual. When she however decided to call the name of the chosen individual, all I heard was my surname and my mind went into another hemisphere. I felt my heart freeze and face grow totally expressionless (many people recount that the last time they saw me really smile in Oyo was before I was appointed). I sat on the chair for a while not believing what had just happened, as the other corps members around me continued to cheer loudly in excitement, which may have either been over my choice as candidate, or based on the fact that they were skipped for the position. After the initial uproar had died down, I stood up to take my place in front of the hall and begin my journey of added responsibility.
If I had thought that NCCF service was the height of responsibility, adding it with being the CLO was an entirely new dimension to the dynamics of things. I practically had no life from there-on. Normally, with the new appointment I was supposed to be reposted to the Local Government, since I was automatically on their payroll. However, I had to work with a different arrangement which was peculiar to my Local Government and a few others around; I continued as a teacher in my PPA, combining it with my CLO duties and interestingly earning an income from three (3) sources (Federal, State and Local Govt – talk about being a bad guy *winks*). With this new arrangement, my typical day started in school, where my workload was significantly reduced to two periods in a week, from school I would then head to the local government NYSC office which was to be opened by 12 noon. Close of Business at the NYSC Office was by 4pm and from the office I would head for the NCCF family house, which was a short distance from my office.
Life as the CLO was both challenging and interesting. In a matter of days, people stopped calling me Seyi, preferring rather to call me CLO. I initially was not comfortable with this and communicated my displeasure to those I could, especially my close friends, who I felt had no reason to call me in such formal manner, but all this was to no avail. As the days, grew by, I began to settle into the name until it began to feel odd when someone called me my name. For my NCCF friends, it was a different ball game entirely; when I was appointed the Sub-zonal Evangelism Secretary (Rugged), a few people having observed that I acted quite differently from how a typical “Rugged” would act decided to call me “Tush Rugged”. They argued that I acted too tush to be a “Rugged” and so felt that was a more appropriate nick-name. After I was appointed the CLO, these same people felt the name had to undergo a change again, since I was now combining two sensitive offices and so the name “Rugged-CLO” was borne. It was this name that I bore in the family house and around many NCCF members.
My duties as the CLO revolved around ensuring a properly coordinated NYSC office in the Local Government, seeing to the welfare of corps members, acting as the first point of contact for all corps members related issues (particularly in the absence of the LGI), liaising with local government officials and external parties in the best interest of corps members, representing the LGI at occasions and coordinating my team effectively towards achieving maximum impact at all CDS meetings. Keeping the office intact was no problem at all, only requiring that I opened the office promptly and did not leave until when due. It also required that I attended to all issues and complaints swiftly, ensuring a proper correspondence of information from the LGI to the corps members and vice-versa. Effectively liaising with internal and external stakeholders was challenging, as it meant keeping up with many people who always wanted a piece of me at all times. The peculiarity of this responsibility meant that I was required to be always available and ready to respond to a call from any quarter, so long as it related to corps members. There were days when I was continuously tracked by individuals/organisations who had one business or the other to market to corps members. They would come for CDS meetings requesting to be allowed to speak to the corps members. After passing their desired message across, they would then conclude by informing the corps members to contact the CLO for more information or if they were interested in picking up the forms, even without prior consultation with me. One case which I remember so clearly was when two Project Management training organisations came into town. One offered its training based on the Prince2 methodology, while the other was based on the PMBOK (PMP). Although they came on different days, their training periods were supposed to run around the same period. The dilemma I thus found myself in was that many corps members sought my advice on which to choose. In this case, I tried every possible means to be very diplomatic; Although I was not picking either of the forms, since I was quite sceptical about what they both promised to offer and I was also not ready to write my desired PMP certification exams, I still had the responsibility to properly advise the corps members on the best option for them, while also striking a balance in total enrolment for the two organisations. In this case, I initially tried to remain as neutral as possible, giving what I thought was the best advice peculiar to the career desires of individual corps members (advising more technical people to do Prince2 and the others PMP). I soon discovered however that the representative of the Prince 2 training organisation in a bid to ensure maximum participation in their programs had started becoming too pushy for my liking. He called me severally, trying to ensure that people were picking their forms, even informing me of the financial reward that I stood to gain with a maximum enrolment rate. I was irked at the thought of pecuniary financial gains being used as a bait for me and I decided instead to advice people to pick up the PMP forms, a decision which I was to later moan over when the financial reward came and my share of the cake was a little compared to what other CLOs received. In truth though, I had no regrets over my decision as I felt a greater peace that I had not allowed money make me work against my conscience. Maintaining an amiable relationship with staff of the local government also proved quite challenging, although majority of them treated me pleasantly, a few of them chose a disdainful approach. Many instances run through my mind, but the one that stands out is one Alhaji who shared the same toilet with the NYSC office and expected that I would do him the honors of filling the drums and cleaning up regularly. I initially tried to create a balance in satisfying his expectations, but when I realised that he had come to take me for granted, I backed off and even after his complaints and protests about my supposed disregard of him I still stood my ground.
What was to prove as the greatest challenge for me was trying to develop programs for our CDS meetings and also coordinate corps members in a proper respectful manner. Although, my team of executives included a CD Chairman whose sole responsibility was planning CDS meetings, I was still actively involved in planning and execution of this meetings. There were times I had sleepless nights trying to figure out the next program to be held, or even the final details of an upcoming program, liaising with necessary stakeholders towards ensuring a successful implementation of our program plans. My hands-on approach to CLO duties was borne out of a conversation I had with my secretary very early in our tenure. A few days after we were appointed as executives, I engaged her in a chat via BBM. She had attended the Passing-Out-Party (POP) of the outgoing batch A corps members and while regaling me with tales of how it was a good party, she expressed her concern over comments raised by some corps members from our batch who were at the party. In the midst of the excitement and perhaps while being intoxicated on some cheap liquor, some batch B corps members had resorted to making claims that our party would never be as good as the preceding tenure. They claimed that I was too serious, or perhaps too religious to ever hold such party. Although, I could have waved this comments aside as idle talk, my secretary’s concern was enough reason to take it serious. To her, those comments were not just aimed at discrediting our party, but the tenure in its entirety, and she was not ready to be associated with a failure. With this in mind, I set out with a clear objective to ensure that we made a success of our tenure.
The very first CDS meeting we held was a week after our appointment. What made this CDS meeting peculiar was the fact that it fell on Valentine’s day (February 14th 2013) and the LGI would not be in attendance, since that was the passing-out day for batch A corps members. Due to the peculiarities of the date, we felt under a little pressure to organise a meeting that reflected the theme in the atmosphere. In my head, I was already thinking of planning a major program that would also include refreshment, but when I presented it to my team, they objected, saying that there was no need for us to try impressing too early in the tenure. As it turned out, the CDS meeting was one that we would always want to forget in a hurry, it was indeed a baptism of fire and turned out to be the briefest CDS meeting we were going to have throughout the tenure. Immediately after the CDS meeting, I met with my team of executives and we began in earnest to draw up ideas and thoughts towards subsequent meetings. As days turned into weeks, we began to show the corps members what we had in stock. Apart from previous outdoor CDS meetings, the first major event we held was a film-show. When we announced that we were planning to organise a film show, I could very easily palpate the negativity that filled the room. Many people did not understand why we wanted to do such, to them it was a waste of time. Every corps member attends CDS meetings as an obligatory endeavour, and as such, they hope that there is no major event lined up for the day, so they can hurriedly sign the attendance register and look forward to the next day. Despite the initial reactions that greeted our announcements, the team was not deterred, as we put in everything we could into ensuring it was a success. We organised pop-corn and punch drink, rented thick clothes to blind out penetrating lights from the windows and even went as far as renting more chairs, all as a way of creating a standard cinema environment. The movie for the day was “Ije”, a movie that spoke out against the silence that typical accompanies rape in this part of the world. Featuring two screen divas; Omotola Jolade Ekheinde and Genvieve Nnaji, the plot was captivating enough to ensure a pin-drop silence in the hall on this day. At the end of this movie, I saw the faces of people light up as they burst into rapturous applause. I felt relieved and knew that the first and major hurdle had just been crossed and true to it, in the space of the remaining two months, we organised all sorts of programs, which many corps members commended as being well thought of and educative. Prior to my tenure, I had at least witnessed two previous tenures and I must say that none of them had as many programs as we had in my tenure. Our different programs include; Inter-school debates, legal awareness day, completion and commissioning of a deep well system in Mogaji Village, a SAED exhibition – a program that was introduced by the LGI, for corps members to showcase products from the different skills they were learning in the new NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development program, under the watchful eyes of representatives from the state NYSC secretariat – and a cultural day, showcasing the cultural diversity of Nigeria. There were also few football matches, although I must confess that the matches were interestingly one of the low-points of the tenure as we lost every game we played in *kai, talk of a losing streak*
One sight I know many corps members became used to, was seeing me with a long jotter, which I called my workbook. This jotter served as a reliable companion all through the duration of my tenure. I wrote down every single detail on this jotter, from the entire calendar of events for over 12 weeks, to the specific details of CDS meetings, phone numbers of corps members and even the prices of different items/payments to our various commodity vendors. Several months after passing-out, I sometimes pick up the jotter to roll back the days of CLO duties and it sure is a flood of nostalgia for me.
Friendships and Relationships
A popular Yoruba adage I know says that “Ogun omode ole sere fun ogun odun”, meaning “40 children cannot play together for 40 years.” This quote comes to mind readily when I remember all the great people I met going through NYSC. Yes, I met the great, good, bad and ugly and they sure leave me with memories.
My journey to camp was made memorable by Omiyera Michael. We had known each other from our early days in OAU and when he informed me that he was also posted to Oyo, we decided to ride together. I arrived his apartment in Ibadan the day before camp was scheduled to open from where we left for camp. Quite ironically, while on our way to camp, we both agreed that we would just go through the entire exercise quietly without being noticed, but this was not the case. After registration, we ended up being in the same platoon and the rest is history; the entire platoon knew us as the comedians of the platoon. We rolled back the tricks from our days of residing in Awolowo Hall, OAU. While alone, I was the quiet unassuming guy, but with Michael, I was something else. Our accommodation was in the same room, so hooking up was not a problem. We made and lost the same friends, cracked the same jokes, went for our meals at the same time and went through our days in one another’s company, well except for when female companions came in between us. In all, Michael was my camp friend and brother, without whom camp may have just been a boring experience. Together, we had the fun of our lives and I’m sure our friends and admirers never had a dull moment. Jagboro Milcah was my coursemate and good friend from OAU, and when we ended up in the same platoon, it became much easy for us to bond even more. We met up after parade, in company of Michael, rolled back the memories of university, while also revelling in the current situation of camping we had found ourselves in. Ajagbe Adeola, was a pretty lady that I had always seen from afar. She was a member of my platoon who I didn’t think I was going to get along with. However, when she was paired with me as the supporting speaker in the inter-platoon debate competition, I knew that I had to move beyond my initial reservations to ensure we became a formidable team. Together we won the preliminaries and lost the finals, we are still in constant touch today. My first encounter with Agun Ifejesu was not entirely a pleasant one. I had met Tochukwu her roommate through Michael and in a matter of days, we became very good friends. While relaxing in the hostel one quiet afternoon, I saw Tochukwu pass-by and as I made my way to greet her, her supposed companion spoke to me in a rather harsh way. I really cannot place a finger on what it is that she said, albeit jokingly, but my reaction was to laugh it off and in a matter of seconds we were chatting away. More than anything, Ifejesu turned out to be my “Camp girlfriend”, as we relatively looked for each other and hung-out on a regular basis. She was in a steady relationship that was headed for marriage and although I was not ready to rock that boat, I basked in the quality of friendship I enjoyed in her company. Unlike many corpers, I was not a regular visitor to the mammy market. Not that I had any issues with going in there, but I just felt there was too much of booze there and a high chance of mixing with the wrong company. Since I was quite okay with the food that was served at the camp kitchen, I was able to hold on to my resolve to ensure only a few trips. A day that however stood out for me was when I attended the birthday party of a friend. Bimbo was also another friend that I met through Michael and since we were almost always in company, it was not a difficult task getting along with her. Her birthday fell on one of the days we were in camp and she planned a moderate bash to celebrate it. As much as I tried to avoid attending, she kept insisting that I attend, with occasional light threats. I eventually attended and was perhaps blown away by what was on display. This party was what I would call an A-list camp party, with all the trappings of fun and enjoyment, food in all forms, drinks, loud music and swaying bodies. As much as possible, I was mindful of the liquid content I consumed and eventually ended up dancing (something I had perhaps not done in a long time) with the celebrant and a few other ladies in attendance. In all I would say it was a good party, although it had all the caution signs ringing around. Without forgetting anyone, I must say that although I met many friends in camp, it is quite impossible for me to write out in great detail every name and face I met over there. The names I’ve however noted are the ones that perhaps that left lasting impressions within that period of 3 weeks.
My friend list in Oyo, is definitely a much longer one. I spent the most of my service year in the town and met really great people who I never thought I would meet. Some of them are still my very close friends till date while a few others have perhaps faded with the passing time.
The very first friend I made was Ojo Temitayo. We met in the bus that was to convey us to Oyo from the camp. While I was still fuming at the thought of being posted to such place, I met someone who was perhaps excited at the prospect. When I got to the bus, he welcomed me well, as though he had been there before and seemed okay with the thought of Oyo. We really did not converse throughout the journey to Oyo, as I chose to withdraw into my thought-state, but when we arrived at the NCCF family house, he was there to cheer me up again. The day after we arrived Oyo, he saw me seated in one corner of the room in deep thought and rather than walk past, he cut into my reverie with sharp rebuke, chiding me for being gloomy over the Oyo idea. In his words, it was at least better than being posted to some more interior places. Beyond the early days, Tayo was to become a close companion for me, especially during my time as the CLO. He was serving in the audit department of the local government secretariat and he made it a point of duty to always check me up in the NYSC office whenever he was less busy. I always look back to those times when we laughed, argued and shouted. Without those periods, I may have perhaps had a boring time seating in the office. Whenever there was a need to get to somewhere for some official duty, asides calling my other Excos, Tayo was always a sure company. His nickname at the time was “Ojabo”, after he survived a ghastly accident while commuting to Oyo, which left a noticeable cut on his head. We remain friends till this day, checking up on each other on a regular basis and waiting to share good news as life progresses. Vaughn Ibukunoluwa Olayinka as I always loved to call her was my housemate, sister, friend and confidant. Although we were in the same platoon in camp, we got along only a few times, but getting into Oyo, we became friends from the very first day of arrival. It was she who spurred me on to commence my accommodation search as we ended up live in the same house. I am at a loss of words to describe the communality that we created in that house, in company of Fagbemiro Oluwaseun, Isiyemi Akindele ( the Batch C corper we met) and much later Ademoye Adedamola and corper Raphael. Ibukun and Seun were more like sisters to me. I remember the concern of a friend when I told him I would be living in a house with two other ladies. A concern that was largely based on previous cases of immorality that supposed housemates had been involved in while in service. With Ibukun and Seun, I had sisters, with whom I could discuss anything (even to the detail of ladies that caught my fancy in and around our local government). Almost everynight, we would sit to relax outside the house, sharing tales of past incidents, daily conquests and future plans. There were days when we would sit in Ibukun’s room watching her latest collection of Nollywood movies, eating from her pot and perhaps gisting though the night, the highpoint been when we were all awake till about 1am, talking and catching fun. While Ibukun was more energetic and fun to be with, Seun was a quieter version. Talk about God making us with our unique differences and Seun comes to mind. We often teased her that she stayed indoors more than was necessary, but all came to the conclusion that we sure could not all be the same. I enjoyed the calmness and quietness of Seun’s company. Not one to be in a rush, walking with her to school meant reducing my normal pace by well over ten steps per second. On our last day at the PPA, she was presented a gift as the best female corper in the school and it definitely was a reward that was not in doubt – Seun just had a way of being the best behaved in a pack and this is one virtue I perhaps need to learn from her.
Fawekun Oloruntoba lived in the house right beside me. He was a relocated corper from Gombe and was initially faced with the challenge of securing accommodation. After a long wait, he got a pretty decent room, which was about twice the size of my room. Apart from being my neighbour, he was also a fellow corper in my PPA, teaching Geography, alongside another of my friends Mufutau Omotayo. I enjoyed Toba’s company a whole lot because he was someone who was always ready to be engaged with meaningful intellectual conversations. Talk of a young man with a deep repertoire of Yoruba anecdotes and Toba is who comes to mind. He was also someone who had facts and figures at his fingertips, always doling them out in conversations/arguments with great ease, especially when it concerned politics and football. I have not seen anyone within my age group who is as committed to news listening as much as Toba. He would start with BBC world service in the morning, and end up at night browsing a variety of news sites on his mobile phone. As much as I earned a reputation of being too studious in Oyo, I always thought that Toba was the man to beat, except for the fact that he read more of news, while I busied myself in biographies, books, reports and other business strategy materials. Much later, I was able to convince him to subscribe to the Mckinsey Quarterly, a privilege which he had great delight in. When it was time to appoint a coach for our football team, I had no doubts about appointing Toba, although our team ended up having the worst record in a while, losing all 4 games played, an outcome that was really not due to any fault of his, but perhaps the state of the team, having a shortage of skilled players. After service, we’ve caught up a few times on Whatsapp, keeping up with recent updates about our lives and career. Emmanuel Ogunjobi to me was the most intelligent corps member I came across in Oyo. As a batch C corps member in the local government, he struck me as someone who was very articulate, had the ability to think big, achieving big things in the process. Emmanuel and I did not start out as friends, but after I was appointed as CLO, we started to talk and after a while he intimated me of his plans to carry out a personal Community development project. It was this project that brought us together as I took up the responsibility of providing some strategic support to the implementation of the project. As my tenure came to an end, and passing-out loomed, I had an assurance in me that Emmanuel would make a worthy successor and did not hesitate to recommend him to the LGI. He was appointed into the office of the CLO on Thursday 30th May 2013 and did a great job. For his tremendous impact in the community (with his Tech empowerment program) and unrelenting effort as CLO, he won a State award and also got a letter of recommendation at the passing out ceremony. Although I also got a letter of recommendation from the state secretariat, I was glad that my successor surpassed me.
The duo of Akinyemi Kikelomo and Akinbi Kehinde were a fantastic company for me in Oyo. They were batch C corpers who got into Oyo after I was well settled. Initially, for one reason or the other, I didn’t enjoy the privilege of friendship with Kike, but Kenny and I got on very well, perhaps because she was also a “Great-Ife” alumni. As time went on however, Kike and I became good friends and together the duo represented a great company for me. The irony of the friendship was that, Kike accused me of not checking her up whenever Kenny was not in town, while Kenny also did the same whenever Kike wasn’t around. The key lesson I learnt from that was that their joint company was what made the friendship tick. Although I must say that Kenny provided a very reliable personality to me, providing the much needed support and co-operation as we worked together to develop a vibrant press crew in the local government. When it was time to leave, I had no doubts in my mind that she would do a good job when I heard of her appointment as the new CDS secretary in the local government.
The trio of Blankson Eyewumi, Omojola Toyin and Aborisade Busayo remain the best friends I ever had in Oyo. It was this girls that provided the best of company for me. They were Batch C corps members in the local govt, who came in around December 2012. I first met Wunmi while she was searching for accommodation, having just arrived in Oyo from camp. We got on well from the very beginning and this served as a great platform to meet with her other friends – Toyin and Busola. I am short of words to describe the warmth and affection I enjoyed in their company. Theirs was one house I could go to with an assurance that I would return well catered for, either with some tasty meals or with quality gists and lots of trouble making. I was embarrassed with hugs the next time I visited Oyo after passing-out, but really we couldn’t help it, after such time away from seeing them.
Apart from the many friends I made in the local government and PPA, the award for the most memorable friendships definitely goes to my friends from NCCF. As much as everyone I’ve previously mentioned contributed in one way or the other to my pleasurable stay, the role that NCCF played is something I will run out of words describing. Being a slow integrator, I grew into the NCCF fold a little at a time, but when I did get in, I enjoyed every bit of it. From the Papa (Zonal Coordinator – Ayotunde Samuel), through the Uncle (Zonal Secretary – Bode Olabode), Auntii (Assistant Secretary – Obasi Ogechi) Mama (Sisters’ Coordinator – Eniola) Prayer coordinator (Orhuamen Elizabeth), Music Director (Adewale Adedamola), TOS man (Transport and Organising Secretary – Ejimudo Bob Erabor), Publo (Publicity Secretary – Olabode Stephen), Rabbi (Bible study secretary – Taiwo Adeyinka), Rugged (Zonal Evangelism secretary – Ayeni Evans) to the members of the fellowship, this group of people brought great joy to me and for this I’m eternally grateful. Prior to my appointment as an executive and even up until two months after, I barely made it to either of Sunday fellowships or the family house, but after my first unplanned visit to the family house, I became a regular caller. The Oyo zone family house was not like every other NCCF family house around. As much as there was a chance of being dogmatic, the occupants of this house were a great company to behold. There was a great sense of congeniality on display and whenever we went for state-wide programs (conferences and rural-ruggeds), we were always easy to notice, as our level of bonding was legendary. Whenever I look back at the times spent in the house, I remember the fun words and statements that we always threw around; Eyyyyyyiiii was our typical greeting and proclamation of excitement, “ igbago e ti san” ( your faith has become watery) was our simple way of making jest of some other person, I too gbadun you!!! Was a loud shout we made to psyche the other person, who would in turn respond by saying “I too like you!!!”, “the man that understands the nitty-gritty” is a statement that is credited to Ayeni Evans the zonal rugged, who always said this whenever he was trying to eulogise someone. I enjoyed every worship, praise, prayer, rehearsal, conversations and argument made in the family house and above it all, I really do miss fellowship, welcoming, sendforth, rural rugged and every program held. The family song is such an integral part of me now that I sometimes catch myself singing it while working on a chore. I’m still very much in touch with a good number of friends from NCCF as we actively engage in discussions in the Family house BBM Group. I’m convinced without any iota of doubt that this group of people are destined for the top.
The truth remains that I made so many friends in Oyo, that I can hardly mention every single one of them. I’ve done my best to mention the few that caught my heart through my stay and sincerely apologise to anyone who I may have unintentionally left out.
The Many Temptations
On my final day in camp, as I prepared to leave the tiring confines of the camp environment, I updated my BBM status to read “ Mo lo mo bo mi o b’omo je”, meaning “ I went and came back without spoiling my good boy (Yoruba folks should perhaps pardon my poor interpretation skills). What this phrase meant to communicate is that through the many temptations of camp, I was able to stay above board and not get tangled up. In all truth and fairness, I must confess that the same cannot be said of my stay in Oyo. As much as I tried to stay above board, I got caught up in one or two things that smeared my otherwise clean slate. I sure had my times of hard falls, everytime doing my very best to pick myself up. The many things I daily battled with perhaps gave me a glimpse of why many leaders around us eventually end up as failures, despite having an impeccable record prior to their appointments. I became exposed to so much onslaught, in such short time, that I constantly had to remind myself of who I really was, where I was coming from and where I was headed. It was not an easy task though, but I carried my cross. Throughout my entire existence, I’ve always made a good boast of the fact that I didn’t take alcohol (except of course palm wine and a few sips of beer I had way back in secondary school) and I had never or wou;d never buy such for anybody. In Oyo however, it was quite amusing the amount of people who were always willing to take me out on a drink or two, either in exchange for some favors or just a harmless hang-out. I stood my ground as much as possible, politely telling them that I did not drink, but I must confess that my strong resistance had a little cave-in when I had to pay for about 4 crates of beer, in preparation for our party. It had become a tradition that any batch preparing for passing-out party would at least guarantee food and drinks for everyone, from the contributions made, with the drinks being mal and beer. So, I paid for the beer… Gbam! I thought that would be the first and the last, but I still did it again, when I had to buy a drink for one of the artistes that was billed to perform, as some sort of motivation. Apart from the times I purchased alcohol for people, I also took in a few spirits, the first being in the passing-out party of another local government that I was invited to by the CLO. I arrived the party rather early, based on the word of assurance I had given to my CLO friend, but upon arrival I realised that I had come too early and so I had to find a place to chill-off with my friends that I had come with. Initially it was an easy choice to make as I gladly purchased my chilled bottled of malt. After the party started and perhaps gradually wore on into boredom, other friends joined up and came insisting I at least took some AMARULA. I have always seen billboard adverts of this product but never ventured near it. I thought to try and trust me, it tasted a lot milky, just like Baileys. I mixed it with Hollandia milk and it truly tasted sweet, but the alarm bells in my head continued to ring ALCOHOL!! ALCOHOL!! ALCOHOL!!. Back in the hall for the party, I was invited to sit on a table by one of the supposed big boys in the local government, with whom I had developed some growing friendship. While on the table, he kept asking me what it was I wanted to drink, most definitely alcohol, but I nonetheless requested for malt which I eventually mixed with a few pint of some spirit.
All this I did not to satisfy anyone, or prove my capabilities, but to perhaps satisfy my curiosity. Asides the temptation of drinks, there perhaps occurred a few other incidents which I would rather not mention for the sake of posterity. So in all, I will perhaps conclude that I had my fair share of temptations in Oyo, I succumbed to a number, overcame most of it and picked myself up, working hard to become a better person.
Last few days
As my months of stay in Oyo rolled into days, I began to look at the town from another angle. This was a time I had hated to love, but had gradually become a great place for me. The week before my passing-out, the LGI selected Ogunjobi Emmanuel and a team of 4 other people as a succeeding tenure to mine. I had nominated Emmanuel to the LGI based on some interaction I had with him, about his personal project. To me, Emmanuel was one of the most responsive and responsible Batch C corpers we had in the local government. He did not prove me wrong, as we kept in touch all through his tenure and was more than glad when he broke the news to me that his personal project (which I had been privileged to anchor the opening event) had won a state award. As the last days of my stay in Oyo became fewer, the key tasks I was left with included organising our passing-out-party, attended the parties of other local governments and preparing for the passing-out-parade/ceremony. About two weeks before passing-out, the batch B corps members in the school were presented with gift items, for a meritorious service to the school. While most of us received the same gift items, a few other people were honoured with awards, for being the most dutiful corps members. Well, I knew I didn’t deserve such honour based on my continued disagreements with my V.P over maltreatment of corps members and was not surprised not to have been so honoured. At the end of the session, the other corps members gave me the singular honour of giving a vote of thanks on behalf of everyone, which I gladly did. The day slated for our passing-out party came and went as I gladly saw it pass, but not without the stress of organising, which meant sleepless nights, personal financial sacrifices, a throbbing headache and a tired body. The reports I received afterwards was that it was a huge success, although it started on a slow note. A highpoint as well was the surprise on the face of many people when they saw me dance at the party. Why wouldn’t I? After slaving for four months with a frown on my face, I was more than elated to let down the straight face I had become synonymous with. Asides attending my local government’s party, I also attended that of 2 other local governments based on the invitation of the respective CLOs. In addition to this activities, the church I attended in Oyo, RCCG Rehoboth Cathedral also honoured the passing-out corps members, with special gifts for those who played a significant role in the church’s workforce, of which I was one of them. Just like I was asked to do in school, I was also honoured to have been asked to give the closing remark on behalf of the passing out corps members. In all, the last few days of my stay in Oyo proved to be far more eventful than I had previously anticipated.
I finally left Oyo on the 8th of June 2013, the day after receiving my discharge certificate. Although I had initially planned to stay back for at least 1 week, to rest a little from the exhaustion of working as the CLO, this wish never materialised as I was expected to resume at a compulsory training session that was on-going at my place of work. As such, I had no other choice, other than to leave and prepare for resumption the following Monday. While in church the previous Sunday, I gave a testimony that although I came into Oyo town with my heads down, I could say with all boldness that I was leaving with my head up high. The core of service started for me in February and within a space of about 4 months, I had contributed significantly to the course of events in my local government and community of primary assignment. I was really shocked to see people cry as they saw me prepare to leave. Words failed many as they sought out ways to eulogise my contributions in their lives. Wunmi, Toyin and Busayo could not imagine the thought of not seeing me around, Kenny and Kike played about the fact that there would be no one to come disturbing them early in the morning, while my landlady just could not come to terms with the fact that my NYSC period was over (as well as that of the other Batch B corps members that livened up the front space of her shop with tales). Prior to my exit, I had made a promise to Emmanuel Ogunjobi that I would help him anchor the opening phase for his program which was slated for the day I was to leave Oyo and so this promise I sure did fulfil. It was a tech empowerment program for secondary school students which he had come up with based on the immediate needs of the schools around in Oyo who lacked a good deal of ICT facilities, curriculum and teachers. I enjoyed every bit of anchoring as it brought back the memorable times I spent in OAU anchoring birthdays, debates, choir concerts, among others. Once I was done with the program, I hurried home to pick up my already packed bags enroute the motor park and finally began my return journey to Lagos, a city I had missed so much. As the vehicle made its way out of Oyo, my eyes caught my recommendation letter from the state NYSC secretariat and as I looked back into the city once more, I felt a sense of pride as I knew for sure that I could write in the sands of time that in Oyo, “I came, I saw and I conquered”
It’s been over 6 months since I left the sleepy town of Oyo and I must confess that inasmuch as I looked forward to every opportunity to leave that town, I have come to miss it so much. I’ve spent 6 months in Lagos, waking up every day to meet up with the crazy traffic, returning late at night to a cold bed and continuing the cycle over again, even on weekends. I’ve returned to Oyo twice after passing-out, with the most recent visit to attend the passing-out-party of the outgoing Batch C, honouring the invitation of my successor. I miss the football trainings I had that were instrumental in me shedding weight ( bulk of which I’ve already gained back), I miss the opportunity to wake up by 7:45 and still make it to work before 8:30, I miss the places where I would easily sneak into and commandeer some wraps of pounded yam, I miss the Okada men in Oyo who would at the first call, mention outrageous fares as though they were taking you on a road trip, I miss RCCG Rehoboth Cathedral, where I had the privilege of actively functioning in two major departments (Sunday school and multimedia), I miss the dusty streets of Ladigbolu lane I, I miss having to think of the next CDS meeting to plan, the next project to commission and the next corper to look out for. Above all, I miss the company of NCCF, Kai!!! I miss singing family song o.
For me it was a time of Tests and Temptations and I must say that I triumphed over them all…
I obeyed the clarion call,
I most assuredly lifted my nation high
Under the sun I stood and in the rain I remained
With dedication I toiled and in selflessness I strove
Nigeria is mine, Nigeria, I served
ADEBIYI OLUSEYI AKANO