I could feel my heart beat faster and my face grinning with excitement on realisation of the successfully redeployment to Ogun state, the Gateway State.  This was bound to be the beginning of a new era for me, a new year in a new place probably with new opportunities, ideas, people, new foods to try out and cultures to explore, new habits to put up with, new lessons to be learnt etc. It’s all brand new but the faith remains…

I was eager to see how the state looked like, considering the fact that nothing has carried me there before. Soon after our departure from camp we were expected to report for registration at the NYSC secretariat Abeokuta. I began this journey from the popular ojota garage without any incline as to how long I was going to be sitting till the vehicle got loaded, as I was the only one in the vehicle at the time, I was certain we were going to spend no more than two hours on that spot but we definitely did.

Driving through the expressway, I kept looking out for organizations, companies and industries that if I was blessed enough, could turn into possible places of primary assignment’ (PPA). The PPA is an NYSC term used to describe the place in which you would dedicate your full service year to, it usually cuts across primary to secondary schools, higher institutions, companies, hospitals, government jobs, or for a selected few, none at all etc..

I almost missed the welcome to Ogun signboard as the driver tried to turn to take the route which led to Abeokuta. “Wow, was this it?” I kept gazing through the windows. I was impressed by the roads, I think the Lagos government might want to take a cue on that...like I was yet to see a single pothole. Forging ahead on our journey to Abeokuta there was really nothing else, bamboo houses were seen occasionally, lots of bushes and empty lands, etc. I just couldn’t wait to get into Abeokuta. We finally got into Abeokuta; I knew this as soon as I started seeing signs of buildings, schools, and then the governor’s office.

The last stop was kuto (ku-tor) which was where I boarded an okada/motorcycle and told them I was going to the NYSC secretariat. We got there in less than 5 minutes and I was discouraged by the number of corp members who came for registration as I was a couple of days back in Zamfara and I really felt like turning back home this time around, because you wouldn’t know when you’d get to finish this registration.

I was irritated and kept ranting within me “why can’t we have this registration done online”, “why do we have to spend about 2000” every time we come for this registration”, “why can’t states take a cue on industrialization, privatization, economic growth, entrepreneurship and social development.. Etc.”, “why do hundreds if not thousands do all they can to ensure they are relocated after they have been posted to these industry-barren states without a hope for learning or gaining anything”.

I was joggled out of my why-rants by the person behind me on the queue suggesting I move forward to get closer to the register and pen my details down. All through the time we got into Abeokuta, I looked out for industries, organizations, companies, something to give me hope regarding my PPA but there was nothing, as in Nothing!!. What I saw instead were upcoming projects; road projects, hi-tech project (recreational centre), E-library, etc. These are very great, but what do we do here and now, when majority of the industries like Nestle, Nigeria breweries, manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies are all found on the Lagos/Igbara expressway.

Well I can only hope for the best in my PPA, wherever it may be...a village? A town? Anywhere, as long as it is not Zamfara. It’s just a year they all said: make it count, leave a trace, it will be beautiful.

With this I say Welcome to Ogun state... I’m really excited to spill out everything I can find and experience in this place.

AUTHOR: Sophina Kio Lawson