Sunday, 13 August 2017

Service Year Dairy: The Struggle For PPA

By James Umana

You are reading this probably because you’ll be out of camp soon and you’re wondering what the outside world holds for you. Of course you’ve been in a ‘prison’ for 21 days and can’t wait to taste freedom. In the next few paragraphs, I will share my struggle for Place of Primary Assignment (PPA). You have a request letter already? Then this is not for you. Just enjoy the piece.
I went into camp with full assurance that I will serve with a particular financial institution in FCT but today, I’m in the health sector. Oops…did I let the cat out of the bag…well… maybe because I’m not a cat person! I was very active for the 21 days we spent in camp. I found myself in almost every committee from being an executive in my platoon, heading a SAED sub-committee, to leading my platoon to her first trophy in the drill/parade competition. With these, I was able to influence my posting to a desired organization. As soon as I collected my posting letter, in company of other Corps members I dashed to the organisation I was posted to. As soon as arrived at supposed PPA, I fell in love with the surrounding. I couldn’t help but take a couple of selfies before I zoomed into the HR office to submit the letter. As I was coming out of the building, I noticed a beehive of Corps members at the gate waiting to be screen by the security men on guard. The rush at the gate made me remember the frenzy in camp when we lined up to collect our first allawe. The battalion at the gate produced a sour taste in my mouth. A lot of thought ran through my mind which I can’t pour out here but what I can remember is the question I asked myself “Oboy, you get leg?” As a fresh Ajuwaya, I retired into the building not knowing exactly what I was looking for. As I wondered in the office, I met a young beautiful lady standing in front of the Admin office. Trust me if she hadn’t smiled, I wouldn’t have said anything to her. Don’t blame me. Blame my introvert self. ‘Good afternoon. I’m a Corps member’ I introduced myself enthusiastically. ‘I can see that’, she responded. ‘Are you serving here?” I querried. ‘I served four years ago’ was the answer which humbled me. With barrage of people struggling to be accepted, I wanted to know the odds. So I told the lady: ‘I just submitted my letter. I was wondering what the possibility of being accepted to serve here is”
 “Sorry, we are not accepting any Corper this year. Everybody will be rejected” The answer shocked me, but I maintained my cool. ‘Alright thank you”
 Inside the elevator, I saw reality staring at me. I’ve never been rejected before! The sad news made me blind so that I didn’t notice if my mates were still at the gate or not. The following day, I went back to the office and sought for a rejection letter. The secretary in the admin office asked that I return on Friday as they will prepare our rejection letters at once. After much pleading, I was rejected. I moved straight to Kubwa camp where I sought for reposting but I was asked to come back whenever I’m ready for reposting. Actually I didn’t wear my khaki.
 Day 3 after camp, I went to back to be reposted but this time I was fully kitted. I arrived there by 8:10am but left there by 2pm. This was as a result of the high number of corps members who wanted to be reposted for one reason or the other. If this was the only reason, I would have left earlier. But African time plus who you know also played a big part here. Like my first posting, my second is also one of the most sought organization here in FCT. After I submitted my letter, I was told to check back in two weeks. During the two weeks waiting, I made several calls to those I felt could help and “Send your details” was what all of them said. The D-day came after two weeks of waiting. It felt like judgment day. But I was confident. I have reached out to my contacts who gave me assurances. While we were waiting to be handed our acceptance letter or at least told we were accepted, I noticed the number of Corps Members increased by the second. I can tell we were more than 70. By 11 am we were called upon to go check our names in one of the offices. The expressions on the faces of those that went before me suggested that they were not accepted. I couldn’t wait for my turn. Remember I have made calls. When I came out, this place will be lit I told myself. When it was my turn I walked in majestically, checked the list with much expectation. How do I celebrate? Do I just walk out smiling? Should I say yes I’m in or what? These ran through my head as I was scrolling the list. For the second time, reality hit me again. I was not accepted. I was weak, sad to say the least! I wanted to faint but there was no fainting space. I tried calling my contacts, but to no avail. None of them answered or returned the call till this day. Depression was about to set in when I got a call from my friend who encouraged and prayed with me. The hunt for PPA began. I surfed offices but they all have same reply “sorry we were not accepting Corpers this year”. That night, we all ate dinner quietly. After night devotion, we all retired to our rooms. But I couldn’t sleep so I opened the WhatsApp application in my phone. Maybe I can find solace here I told myself. 
Maybe I can find solace here I told myself. It was during a conversation with a friend that I told her about my ordeal. She consoled me and promised to talk to her uncle. One faithful morning while I was getting set to continue with the search for PPA, my phone beeped. It was a text from my friend. It read in part “I have spoken to my uncle. He wants to see you”. I hurried to his office. After a session of Q and A, I was asked to get a posting letter addressed to his office. I can’t put in words how I felt. I owe my friend one.
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