“The greatest thing a man can do in this world is to make the most possible out of the stuff that has been given him. This is success, and there is no other.”– Orison Swett Marden
This blog has been inspired by the many questions I’ve gotten from my non-Nigerian friends and followers regarding my NYSC journey. A few questions I’ve gotten are as follows:
- Did you join the army?
- What’s NYSC?
- How long is it again?
- What exactly are you doing for one year?
- Are you getting paid?
I know I posted a bit on my Instagram story throughout my NYSC journey. So today, I’ll share a bit more detail on what life has been like this past year doing NYSC in Nigeria.
So let’s begin the breakdown. What is NYSC?
NYSC stands for National Youth Service Corp which is a Scheme designed by the Nigerian government after the Nigerian Civil War to engage the youths all over the nation to re-build our country and interact with Nigerians from different tribes and states. The decree No.24 of 22nd May 1973 stated that the NYSC is being established “with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity”.
To engage in this scheme, you must have received your Bachelors degree from an accredited University either locally or internationally. NYSC is mandatory for every Nigerian born home or abroad to receive gainful employment in Nigeria. Though I spent majority of my life in the US, my dad highlighted the importance of coming home, learning how to navigate Nigeria and participating in NYSC. There are three (3) batches and each batch has Stream 1 and Stream 2. Batch A takes place in February/March. Batch B takes place July/August and Batch C takes place September/October. To get exact dates, please visit NYSC Main Website.
As of August 2018, I got an email from my dad with the NYSC portal to begin my registration. I completed my registration or so I thought and headed to Abuja the following month. I’d talked to my friend Ibukun and Koya about the whole scheme and they gave me support prior to my journey. Yet, I don’t think anything prepares you for NYSC like actually doing it.
Here Are The Key Factors To The NYSC Scheme:
- Registration: The first part of registration was doing it online. My first registration was done in Houston. I thought I completed the process but, I did not know you had to add your biometrics and pay the N2,500 for your call up letter. When I arrived in Abuja, I was disappointed to find out I did not successfully register for Batch B. The people I spoke to at the NYSC Headquarters were so kind and they gave me information and assistance to register for Batch C. They notified me as soon as registration was open and I successfully registered at an IT Center. NYSC requires provision of the following documents: All International Passport Bio Data Page, Applicable Visa/Resident Card, Date Departing Nigeria if Applicable, Passport Stamp of Most Recent Returning Date To Nigeria, High School Diploma and Transcript, Bachelors Diploma and Transcript, Birth Certificate, Copy of University ID card. You also need to do biometrics at the time of initial registration so if you don’t have a biometric machine, go to a business center that has one.
- Receiving Your Call-Up Letter: I received my Call Up letter to report to camp in Kubwa, Abuja on October 23rd. I received my call up letter mid-day October 19th so I only had 3 full days to prepare. I had to get a Medical Certificate of Fitness from a hospital. After which, my mum and I went to Wuse market to buy my necessities for the 3 week camp. That day was soo stressful but I met a corper, Lillian that helped my mum and I.
- Going To Camp: Camp lasts for 3-weeks. I left my house at 6:00am to arrive at camp in good time to queue. When I got to the camp, I had to get 8 passport photos because you pretty much need to provide multiple passport photos throughout registration day. Once I received a number, they separated us and assigned us to our hostels. When we got there, I got to pick my bed and set my boxes. The next step was to go to my registration spot. Since I was foreign trained, I went to a different section on camp where I met other foreign trained graduates. I had to get a physical verification slip to prove NYSC has seen and inspected my original documents. After that, I was assigned to Platoon 2 and I had to continue my registration with my platoon officer. We signed so many documents and I remember having to make numerous copies. Once I was done with my platoon, I went to my designated bank to open a bank account. The bank account is critical because that’s how NYSC will be paying your monthly allowance. Side note: Make sure you have your BVN at hand. The whole day was soo stressful and crazy but when I was done, I handed my physical degrees and credentials back to my mum to take home cause I did not want to risk losing it. A lot happened in camp in the few days I was there, though I had fun, I got quite sick because I was unable to poop because of how disgusting the bathrooms were. Also being that I hadn’t lived in Nigeria for over a decade, my body reacted badly to the camp food. Parade was stressful and the soldiers would yell and yell. They’d blow that trumpet every morning, mid day and evening. Goodness, it was sooo stressful. We woke up at 3am every day and the entire day was filled with activities. Between 3 parades daily, classes and lectures, Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), the long queues, arguments and drama, I can only say tired was an understatement. I ended up having to exit the camp for health reasons. There’s a lot you have to do in camp but it’s most important to make sure you sign the book of life and open your bank account. Make friends and be close to your platoon officer to get quality information on what is needed.hhh, the sun that day. I almost fainted… all my Nigerians will say I’m Aje Butter lol.
- Documentation At Your Zonal Office: Once you receive your PPA acceptance, you have to go for documentation at your Zonal office. You need to get a slip and staple your passport picture to it. You’ll also get assigned to a Community Development Service (CDS) if you did not get one in Camp. The slip will include your CDS officer’s name, contact as well as date and location of CDS. You’ll have to make sure you sign the documentation book including your name and NYSC code. Once you’re done, make sure you keep a scan or photocopy just in case. This is Nigeria, anything can happen lol. I kept scans and copies of everything NYSC gave me. Make sure you do your documentation early on otherwise you might get a query which will add unnecessary stress to your life.
- Attending Community Development Service (CDS): Every week, you are expected to attend CDS which typically lasted from 8am-2pm. You have to make sure you sign the attendance book every week or you might be queried. Make friends so you know what changes may be happening each week.
- Monthly Local Government Clearance (Biometrics): Even if you missed some CDS, you definitely should never miss Biometrics. Monthly clearance consisted of taking an assessment letter written and signed by your PPA attesting you’ve performed satisfactory and are eligible to receive payment from NYSC. You will go to your Zonal office to submit this letter to your CDS officer to sign. After which you would proceed to queue to get your biometrics done. This was soo stressful because you have thousands of people waiting in line with the terrible network in Nigeria and 3-4 staffs, it was a great challenge every month. It’s important to do this every month. When you miss biometrics, NYSC will not pay you allowee because they will assume you did not serve that month.
- Receiving Your Allowee: Ahhh!!! This one is strong as my fellow Nigerians will say. The NYSC gives every corp member N19,800 (approx. $55) a month as allowance. Y’all! We were expected to live off N19,800. For a lot of corpers, this was their main income each month because their PPA did not pay them. My PPA paid me so I was able to add that to my livelihood but to be honest, when you’re used to making a lot more a week, living on such a low salary can be depressing. It was really hard coming from America where my pay was more than substantial to making less than $250 in a month in Nigeria. My savings was my life line. I spent the last year mostly living off my savings. If your planning on doing NYSC, please save, save, SAVE!!! You will thank me later! In addition to my savings, I also hustled on the side selling multiple fitness programs, providing business services on a contract basis, did digital marketing, amazon and much more. I learned to be very resourceful. At the end of the day, I was determined to make money to keep up my lifestyle.
- Signing Book of Life: This is EXTREMELY important!! You have to sign the Book of Life twice. The first time is at camp and the second time is after you’ve been accepted by your PPA. When you go to the NYSC office, you must wear your complete attire (Khaki, Jungle boots, white t-shit and headdress. Make sure you have your NYSC ID card as well.
- Final Clearance: Ahhh!! This was the most stressful of all. As you approach your 12th month, you will receive a letter form NYSC with the official passing out date and information for final clearance. The last CDS, you’ll make a payment of N1,500 for your NYSC magazine to the CDS officer. My friend and I helped my CDS officer collect and count the money that was paid. The week of final clearance was so stressful because in addition to going to work, I was spending hours a day in queue trying to get signatures and stamps from designated officials. The first step of final clearance is to get an attestation letter from your PPA with a signature and stamp provided. Next, you will fill out your Form 2B. Make sure your PPA stamps and signs this form. After that, you will go to your Zonal Office to get an Area Stamp from your Area Inspector on your attestation letter. Then your CDS officer will sign and stamp this letter, your Zonal Officer will stamp. You will do Biometrics and the officer will sign. You will queue for the Biometrics stamp and finally you’re done. Keep this letter and make sure you staple your NYSC ID card to it.
- Passing Out Parade (POP): At last!!! The final stage of NYSC. I could barely sleep the night before. I was soo excited. After the stress of the one year, I was ready for it to be over. I woke up quite early, got ready, prayed with my family and headed to the NYSC Kubwa camp. I got there around 8:30. The crowd was overwhelming. I saw many friends from camp and it was quite fun. When it was time to collect my certificate, I got in queue. Unfortunately, I was unable to collect my certificate because I needed my CDS officer to write Magazine cleared on my attestation letter. Ahh the frustration. My entire CDS members had to wait 2 hours for my CDS officer to arrive. Around 12pm, she came and signed our letters. Luckily, by the time I got to my Collection location, my name was about to get called. I collected my certificate and submitted my letter! The feeling I got when I got that certificate was overwhelming. All the emotions were crazy! After that, I suffered another 2 hours queuing and watching people fight for the magazine. Eventually, I finally got it and it was all over. I had completed NYSC.
- If you’re coming from outside Nigeria, make sure you have ALL your physical documents!!!
- Try to do everything on time so you can make necessary arrangements and accomodation.
- Take a passport photo with you everywhere you go.
- Take your ID to any NYSC activity.
- Always have N5000 cash. You might need it at any time.
- Take N500 for water or snacks. The queues will exhaust you.
- Be friends with your CDS officer. They can make anything happen for you.
- Make friends with people in your platoon and CDS.
- Be respectful and civil. You’ll meet all types of people and you have to choose to rise above stupidity.
- Help out when needed. People will remember you and help you if needed.
- Save money!! Seriously! Have money set aside for the year.
The Tears During NYSC: This past year has been quite intense. Like the time and effort you put in to get N19,800 was mentally draining. I cried and wanted to give up. But my family and friends really kept me grounded. It was hard. The queues were ridiculous. Like people would push you, people would cut the queue. It was so frustrating. Something that should not take more than an hour would take 3-5 hours. Nobody was ever on time. Everyone was confused. It was stressful. I lost weight, gained weight then finally lost it again. I got sick and it was just crazy.
The Joys During NYSC: On the flip side, I got to do so many great things. I truly fell in love with Abuja! Y’all it’s such a beautiful place. I made great friends and connections that made things a bit easier for me. My best friend and food partner, Lazarus, came through and brought me business clients! I loved going to my PPA. I got to experience and learn how to navigate Nigeria as an adult. I got creative and learned how to draw multiple streams of income. Y’all, I survived and this taught me that I can truly survive anything life brings my way. I’m grateful I got to make great friends in NYSC. Thank you to my fellow corpers Prince, Emmanuel, Ifeanyi, Yemi, Ashley, Zulu and all my other friends that I met through NYSC. Going through NYSC with y’all made it a fun experience. The timing was perfect and I’m grateful to God.
I hope you found this blog insightful and I hope this inspires you to do the impossible. The hardest thing is starting. Before you know it, you’ve achieved your goal. What are your thoughts regarding NYSC? Thanks for reading beauties! Until next time, you can keep up with me on Instagram @iam_Deborah.