“Many graduates anticipate the National Youth Service with high hopes. The year is as important as you take it. To some it’s a step forward, a time which is used to plan towards fulfilling their career. To some it’s a time to explore and do as they wish. The service year is a training ground to develop yourself. So make the best of it.” This is like the pep talk given to most graduates about to serve.
Honestly, it’s a period of selfless service even though you may sometimes feel the country does not deserve your service. Of course there is the youthful exuberance that comes with it. Time is at your disposal. After four or more years spent buried in books, the world beckons with bright lights.
Many people have a state to which they would love to be posted. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. For me it didn’t.
I would have loved to stay in the Southern part of the country and be near home. I was so confident that the posting would favour my wish. On this beautiful starlit night, I was with a friend, Deborah, in her hostel, anticipating the posting which would be pasted the following day. I received an unexpected call from another friend.
“Hello Praise. It’s Katsina o!” Tinuke told me
“What?” I asked
“The posting is out, jo. Its Katsina.”
I laughed. “You’re not serious o. It will be out tomorrow. How are you?”
“I’m fine, I’m serious. I’m at DSA* right now.” She replied
“Ehn? Abeg stop jo. You know you’re the one who called. Don’t burn your credit telling lies.”
“I’m serious o. Its Katsina. The list was pasted this evening.” She said again.
“Wait. You’re serious. Really?” It gradually began to dawn on me that she wasn’t joking. My mind went blank. Do I even know where Katsina is?
“Ok. Ok. Thanks Tinuke.” I hung up and turned to face Deborah.
“Deborah, guess what? I’m going to Katsina!”
I said this with wonder and a sense of resignation. I had been praying to be posted to a suitable place. Someone even offered to help make sure I was posted to a state of my choice. I could not understand why I could have been posted to the Northern part of the country. You know, I didn’t feel sad. Excitement gradually began to run through me. I was so optimistic. Probably because I had tried all I could to make it otherwise. I began to feel quite excited. You can say I tried to encourage myself. Whatever! But I really wasn’t sad about it.
I called all my family members and it was amazing at the responses I received. I called my immediate elder brother first and he was appalled by the idea of me going to Katsina. “Abeg, no be by force dem dey serve o. With all this Boko Haram, how can they post people to that side of the country?” My other two brothers were somehow indifferent about the whole thing. My parents reaction, well, that’s for another post.
When I returned home, I sat with the map of Nigeria. I had thought Katsina was around Abuja. Apologies to my secondary school geography teacher. It’s not far from it really. Besides I’m sure you may not know where it is either. I seriously started having second thoughts when I saw that Katsina was bordering Niger.