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LKC 02: "Up National!"

After reading Lazy Korfa's memoirs, Dr Femi Aderiye was so inspired that he put 'pen to paper' to share his NYSC memories in a series of posts for our Lazy Korfa Community (LKC). Thank you so much, Femi, we have loved reading your stories and hope others enjoy them as much as we have. Below is the first in the series. Enjoy and share with others too!

I still remember how excited I was going to pick up my call up letter. I had been unable to attend the Batch 'A' call up because I had not rounded up my internship then. I was a bit worried about being posted to the northern part of the country cos of the religious crises that occurred from time to time. I had been assured however that doctors were highly prized up country, so I had nothing to fear.

The Students' Affairs Office was filled with others trying to pick up their call up letters as well. I gave the man behind the counter my matriculation number and he found and handed my letter to me. My previous posting had been to Abia state and I sort of hoped it would be to the Eastern part of the country again as I'd never been East of the Niger. I looked forward to going to Imo, Enugu or any other state for that matter.

Anyway, I tore the letter open and found I'd been posted to Kogi state.....Okaaaay, I thought. Who do I know that serves in Kogi state? Oh well, it can't be too bad, it used to be part of Kwara state. Also, the confluence of the Niger and Benue river is in Lokoja so it's a chance to confirm some of the Geography and Social Studies from school earlier. I was able to find a friend who had served in Kogi and he said it was a good place to serve especially if I got to stay in Kabba, which is where the orientation camp is situated.

I looked forward to the adventure. I'd gone to boarding school in Ondo state (FGC Idoani) for six years, so the thought of being away from Lagos for one year was exciting to me. New faces, people, culture, personalities etc. You see, I'd been in one place for close on eight years due to medical school with it's attendant interruptions during that period and one year internship (loads of fun as I was getting paid good wages; or so I thought anyway).

I was to depart in a matter of weeks and I wished it was the next day to be honest (I wonder why like most young men I always seemed to be in a hurry). Departure day saw me at the motor park at Ojota at 5am. Kogi state had no airport so I didn't have the luxury of flying there. Fortunately there were 3 other people going for orientation camp so the driver was kind enough to insist on dropping us at the gate of the orientation camp seeing as we were government property.

The journey was uneventful to say the least though the driver had the odd habit of waving at passing vehicles and yelling "Up National!" once we got into Kogi state. I found that quite amusing but never got to ask him what it meant and why he was doing it (I found out later of course, Sherlock Holmes that I am).

We disembarked from the car and walked into camp. First port of call for us was the Camp Director's office complex. We showed our call up letters and were issued mattresses. We were then told to go and conclude registration at the main hall. Like it was ever going to be that easy.....

The minute I walked into the hall I knew I wasn't going to complete my registration that day or the next, so I found one of my travel buddies. Smiling ever so sweetly, I asked her to keep an eye on my things to which she kindly obliged me. I walked out of the hall and asked where the mammy market was. Once I was pointed in the right direction, I headed there to start my "orientation". Ha ha!

© Dr. Femi Aderiye. April 2020.

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