Niger state: the power state, as it’s famously called. Don’t think I’ve ever been to any state this big in Nigeria, bordered on the east by the federal capital territory, Abuja and Kaduna state. With a weather peculiar to most states in the northern part of the country-humid, hot and dry I cannot remember how many times I attempted splashing cold water on my mattress before sleeping during my stay at the orientation camp at Paiko, Paikoro local government, Minna. Minna the state’s bustling capital city is the heart of Niger state, with a number of commercial banks jostling for space in minna’s central business district not forgetting Minna central market which is akin to the popular tejuosho market in Lagos.
On my first day in Niger, I and a number of youth corps members arrived through Suleja one of the major local governments. Wisely we secured a tour guide, for the vehicle’s driver was as ignorant as were in finding our way around. However what got my attention was the tour guide was apparently no connoisseur for no sooner had we contracted him did he get off the vehicle and contractied another passenger from whom he extorted the sum of 200 hundred naira, no hard feelings because I wasn’t the fall-guy.
Life on camp was an absolute nightmare, corpers were treated like renegade kids; justifying a statement by a camp official “here, you do what you are told to do and not what you feel like or what want to do” and so it was for 21 long days. Disobedience was a costly option- the price was either “frog jump” or picking dirt with bare hands or worst still spending the night in lock-down. It all depended on how serious the case was or simply the toss of a coin.
Well if you talk about endurance then I’m game, but three days gone a thousand years would not have been any closer. Home-sweet-home never rang truer– no one ever warned me of this ‘treat’.You must be out of your room latest by 4:45a.m everyday and every form of activity operated in a similar military like fashion.
On and on we trudged painfully till the 21st day and finally we are out of prison, out of ‘kirikiri’ and ‘sorbibor’, and back to the waldorf Astoria, even if was five metres out of the camp’s gate. The people are quite hospitable, hmm! Life as a corper-a bit intruiging and interesting – you walk on the road and you hear people cheering you “korfa, how are you? e.t.c.”
Well, if you ask me, I don’t think I want to be a corper again in the next life if I was offered a blank cheque..mmm..maybe?
Dorcas, CONNECT AFRICA.