That’s what you’ll be in a few months when you wear that green khaki trouser with a white shirt, white canvas and cap! That’s the name given to new set of corpers as they enlist to join the army of great men and women who have previously served our beloved country Nigeria…and guess what? You’re the latest Otondo in town!
Before we set out to preparations, let me give a brief history of the NYSC, it’s purpose and intention.
By my understanding, the NYSC (Nation Youth Service Corps) is a compulsory one year scheme set up by the federal government of Nigeria to achieve three main objectives:
1. For National Integration: Nigeria being a nation of diverse people, with several different cultures, languages and societal beliefs, the scheme has helped to keep us together as we interact and mix with Nigerians from other parts of the nation.
2. To improve the lifestyle of living and allow contribution to various sectors of the nation, particularly in the rural areas. One major sector the government has faced is the education sector. Graduates are meant to make input into the school system, (primary, secondary and tertiary institutions) with emphasis on the rural, local and underprivileged societies.
3. To serve to provide initial Job opportunities for fresh graduates. The federal government has committed to employing and paying every Corper a stipend…We usually call ‘allawee’ from allowance. This introduces graduates to the job market and help them prepare for the time out on their own. As at when I served between June 2012 and June 2013, my allawee was #19,800…and there were rumours for increase! (Hmm…did I hear an Amen?)
To achieve these, the government usually mobilises and posts fresh graduates from the universities, polytechnics, colleges of education (and now a few other colleges) to go and serve the nation. First, you would be posted outside your state of birth and state of study, in the spirit of integration and you would likely be posted to a rural, local place in the spirit of improving their lifestyle. Finally according to recent laws, everyone seems to be posted to secondary schools alone! Though In practice, there may be exceptions to all these…but the majority of people will be posted to schools, outside their familiar geographical region and to a rural area…All these depends again on your course of study and several other ‘miscellaneous’ factors!
So if you have just recently graduated from a tertiary institution, you probably are waiting to ‘go and serve’…and I can boldly call you an Otondo! A few months ago, I was like you and I intend to share with you in the next few posts, a few practical things that helped me while I was at that critical time. Ready?
1. Concept Preparation: The NCCF (Nigeria Christian Corper’s Fellowship) has over the years termed NYSC as Nigeria Youth Service Christ. What did they mean? Serve Nigeria or Serve Christ? It is important to remember that wherever we are as Christians, we have one great mission, which is? Live for Christ and teach others to do the same! So in summary, it is a time to Serve Christ as He leads you to serve Nigeria. It is your opportunity to discover how to be a Christian in the work place, how to follow Christ in the work context and practical discipleship in the marketplace. It’s a great period of LEARNING and SERVING at the same time. You know, you have always been around brethren who can encourage you, people who can help you, a discipler or elder probably just a taxi away; now you are going far from them and would be on your own, with God of course…It will be a time to see how much of Christ you learnt while in school and a time to further learn to stand in Christ on your own. You know for me, I was so excited to go and serve because it would afford me opportunity away from my Dad (who is a pastor anyway) and I would then test my Christianity and test the level of my walk with God! How did I perform?
So this is about Prayers and Commitments. I encourage you to find time to pray and commit the entire year into God’s hand pleading for God’s help for your walk with Him. Several who backslid during their service year or wasted the year never planned to but I discovered several also never prepared for the year. They went in casually. Particularly if you have been useful in any way to God and His work while you were on campus, maybe you were an exco in school… the devil will probably be waiting for you like he did for me…at your Place of Primary Assignment (PPA). And the more if you were also a disciple following Christ properly every step of the way, Fellowship brethren and leaders, disciplers and pastors, people around would not so to speak allow him to attack then but he knows you are about to leave them for a strange place and a lonely place too. It’s time to really pray for yourself. Ask for help to discover His will and strength to do it.
Then make commitments to God. Personally commit yourself to serving Him again. This is the time several people (especially those who served as leaders and excos while in school) silently make up their minds to rest and not serve God again…but for you, it is ‘service continua’! Like i will explain later, I am not necessarily talking about serving as a papa or mama or rugged or any other exco post; but serving God’s purpose with your life. (I’ll be sharing on Serving in the exco in a subsequent post). This is not the time to resign from active service, resign from active practical following and active practical discipleship. Commit to serving Him, commit to serving the nation. Prayerfully make serious, deliberate and personal commitments to God before you leave home and familiar ground, lest you be swept away.
Let me end with a scripture…
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and truly you shall be fed.
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD: and he shall give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
Maybe this was me alone! But If you had a similar time before going to serve, please leave a comment on the prayers and commitments you made that helped you if it did. The next post titled “Spiritual Preparation” will highlight three aspects of Deliberate Prayer, Tying the knots and Time engagement…see you then!
God bless you.