ON June 9th 1984, I left Owerri for Ibadan Polytechnic, two days ahead of the date for prospective corps members to be encamped. From that 9th to date, my life has never been the same again.
Prior to that date, there was skin-deep phobia to serve in the West due to alleged rampant juju usage that had resulted in deaths of corps members. Some of us in those days prayed and fasted against being posted westward.
I braved all odds to go to Ibadan for the first time. Going to Ibadan two days ahead of time was to avail me the opportunity to understudy the city and know if I would adapt or head back home. At Ijebu Ode, where Ekene Dili Chukwu bus dropped me off, the struggle by Agberos to force my luggage into a particular vehicle resulted in the tearing of the box with my “belongings” littering all over the place. To heighten my anxiety, nobody spoke one English word. It was all Yoruba.
In that feverish condition, I looked up and saw “welcome to Ibadan Polytechnic”. My heart sprang up. Unbelievable!! From this point, things assumed positive crescendo in all sides. The moment I disengaged from that car, my perception of the Yoruba people changed for life. Other miraculous events in quick succession gave credence that God was behind all these.
For reporting first and two days ahead of other 2000 Corps members, I was made the camp leader – deputised by Abubakar Momoh – the radical Political Science Professor who died late last year.
Posted to the headquarters of Oluyole Local Government Area, Idi Ayunre for my primary assignment, the Principal of Prospect High School, Abanla, one Mrs Ajobo, offered me accommodation in her vast school premises. Here, I offered to teach final year students English Language from 4pm when I closed from Idi Ayunre office to 8pm most times.
This long story is recounted because of my desire to mention the name(s) of one or two great Nigerians who God used to bless me in the process. This man is Dr. (Chief) Oba Otudeko of Honeywell Group. Throughout my service year in Ibadan, I never met this man. But one night something subconsciously told me to make more impact in that land as a compliment to the love, Abanla community and the parents of my students showed me.
Got home in Obowu, Imo State safely and a month later, I was setting off to leave for Ibadan to become a civil servant, when a letter from the family mail box was handed over to me. It was a letter proclaiming me the 1985/86 NYSC Presidential Award winner which came with an automatic employment. In 1987, I enlisted into Federal Civil Service. This week, I would exit as the Director IT. It is instructive that within the period under review, the grace of God had taken me to all the continents except Australia.
Now the purpose of this long gist is for people who now campaign for the scrapping of NYSC to simply read this my story and how it demystified a hitherto dangerous myth about the Yorubas. Secondly, to let Nigerians know this highly detribalised Nigerian; Oba Otudeko who made a hitherto Igbo boy, today is a senior citizen courtesy, his generosity.
I also put on record, the overwhelming love shown me by the Oluyole Local Government, and the Abanla Community in particular where majority of my students came from. I recall with love how Oyibo! Oyibo!! rented air whenever I was seen walking along the community. To many others, individuals, groups I could not mention here, I remain proud of you till death.