I have been in education for most of life and heaven knows I need experience. I can’t wait to start working and hopefully that will be soon. I can complain (even though I don’t see it as complaining but as commenting on things that I don’t like). I am somehow looking forward to working long hours. It’s better for me to be occupied than for me to be idle and unfortunately I think I like a bit of stress. As I am now a qualified legal practitioner, a fact I’m still coming to terms with, the next phase in my moving to Nigeria journey is Youth Service.
For those who don’t know, before a Nigerian can work in Nigeria, they have to serve for a year as part of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). 3 weeks is spent at a camp while the rest of the year is spent working which is most usually teaching at a secondary school from what I’ve heard and read. Some do have a choice though. Also Corpers are paid a monthly allowance (allowee) which I think is 19,800 Naira (Around 80 Pounds).
The idea of NYSC came after the civil war or Biafra as it is commonly known. The aim was for Nigerians to mix with each other and learn other cultures. This was a great idea after the war and I think it’s still great. How great is another thing in itself.
Those, like me, who graduated from universities outside Nigeria, have a different registration process from those who graduated in Nigeria. To start off, foreign graduates have to go to the NYSC website to fill in the online application. I did this on my own but I advise others to go to an internet café recognised by NYSC to register as it’s easier. Registration should only be 500 Naira. Anyone charging above that will be blacklisted by NYSC. I also advise people to pay the 4000 (with an added 60) to be able to print out call up certificates and etc. before you go for your appointment. You’ll get your call up number quicker that way. The last bit of the application requires certain documents to be uploaded i.e. University certificate, university transcript, secondary school results, passport pages. The website also tells applicants to bring photocopies of everything. At most, two or three copies are necessary. I didn’t use any of the passport photographs I took for the application.
Please note: Matriculation number is your University ID number. I was confused and had an issue setting my appointment date because of it.
After the online application, I went to the NYSC Headquarters in Abuja where foreign graduates have to register. It would have been better had they asked us to go to NYSC branches in our respective states but they prefer Abuja. The appointment date is picked by the applicant when they are applying online. It should really be a one day process but the tiniest complication will mean that may end up going to NYSC HQ for three days like I did.
I flew into Abuja, went straight to the NYSC HQ and there were already over 100 people there. Ideally, one is meant to pick a number given to them by contracted security and then wait for that number to be called. In reality, one picks a number and waits foreeeevvvveeer for their number to be called. I was 135 and I was thinking “I’ve got everything required of me and I’ve done everything they’ve asked me to do so I should be out of here in no time!” Yeah. Fat chance of that happening when they were not organised.
The place was in chaos. Foreign graduates were cramming themselves at the door, people were jumping the queue thanks to ‘connections (courtesy of some officials)’ and ‘bringing mummy or daddy to the HQ’ and numbers were not being called. I got my number around 9:40am and some people had been seen to already. By the time it got to 100 or so, everything was at a standstill. They just stopped calling numbers for hours and I am not exaggerating. It was 2 or 3 in the afternoon and I still hadn’t been seen to. Number 135 and hours later I was still waiting for my number to be called. People were frustrated and it wasn’t surprising when instead of calling numbers, random people were blatantly being brought in ahead of those who had waited patiently.
The officials got tired of the graduates pushing and blocking the door so they threatened to bring soldiers in. I was happy with that idea. It was needed. Everything was disorganised and it wasn’t until a soldier came to take over that things were organised. He did what the officials couldn’t do. Not that they can be blamed for everything as the graduates were being rowdy. The soldier even smacked one or two people who were behaving like complete arses.
After a looong time of waiting and thanks to the soldier, I was eventually seen to. It was in 2 stages. The first involved the documents being looked over and finger printing for those who hadn’t done it previously. This part was quick for me. There were only three people who were nice throughout the process and I came across several people. One of them was the woman at the finger printing table. She was really lovely. The first had been the soldier and the third, I’ll talk about in a bit.
The second bit involved an official taking her time to go over the documents. Once she saw that my documents had been uploaded sideways, she told me to go back and re-upload them. The documents being uploaded sideways was my fault, however, having an issue with a document that can easily be flipped was ridiculous. I hadn’t realised when I had resized them that they had been flipped sideways and didn’t see it as an issue when I uploaded them. Long things short, it cost me 2000 Naira to re-upload everything. There are several ‘computer places’ outside the HQs which charge silly prices. The one I went to thought it was good customer service to suspend re-uploading my documents in order to do work for people who had come after me. It was also a problem when I told them I wasn’t happy about it.
I went back but there was still chaos and a lot of people that needed to be seen to. It was claustrophobic, the room lacked air, it became disorganised again and it was extremely uncomfortable. To cap it all off, foreign graduates were pushing each other. The soldier who had everything organised wasn’t there by the time I came back. I gave up after a while and decided to come back the next day.
The next day was a COMPLETE waste of my time. I was at NYSC HQ for nothing. I sort of caused it. I believed that what I was wearing was ok. It was a playsuit with tights but the two BACKWARDS contracted security women had an issue with it. Not the NYSC officials who didn’t bat an eyelid when they looked at me but 2 contracted security women who were rude, ill-mannered and need several lessons on how to talk like human beings. The way they spoke to me, I was so pissed. Apparently, the tights I wore were transparent. That was a lie, they were black. Having to go back to change was annoying but the way the so called human beings were shouting annoyed me more… Sorry to say, but some people here, need to learn how to talk to others without shouting like animals. Someone raising their voice when the other person is talking to them calmly makes them look as if they are losing control and extremely stupid.
Someone that works there, who ended up being the third nice person I had come across agreed with me and explained that they were contracted staff and they had been disrespectful in the way that they were talking to me. What annoys me is those two women will not be corrected and will continue thinking that the barbaric way in which they had been behaving was ok.
The second day was more organised yet there was still chaos. Got there around 9 in the morning and was seen to around 5 in the evening. Once again, after a while, they had stopped calling numbers for hours and a lot of us ended up waiting on the 6th floor, while I’m sure that people were on the 1st floor hustling to be seen before us. I even ended up sleeping with my mouth open.
I got to the very last point where a female official told me that I had to come back the next day because they were only seeing new cases that day. I know for a fact that they had seen people that had been there previously and it didn’t make sense for me to come back just to show that I had uploaded documents. I had no choice but to come back the next day.
The third day was the best and it was the most organised. It was obvious that they had learnt from the previous days, however, it should have been like that a long time ago. They had been doing this for weeks. It didn’t help that one official was barking and snapping unnecessarily. I was seen to and later dismissed by the official shouting ‘Next!’
That was the end of three day process that should have been one. It should and could have been better. I thought the law school wasn’t organised at times but NYSC is worse. They ask for too many photocopies. It was concerning how much people were paying to complete the application process. Applicants missed flights, were told to come back numerous times and spent money to book hotels and change flights. A young woman I spoke to said she had been sent back for something when the person before her had been allowed even though they had the exact same issue. She had already been to the NYSC HQ already.
It has been well over a week that I finished my application process and I am yet to get a call up number. I really hope I am serving in Batch C because I want to get the year over and done with. I need as much work experience as I can get.
For now, I’m going to be running around to shop for NYSC and prepare for call to bar.
Until next time.