The much anticipated POP (Passing out Parade) finally came, the joy on our faces couldn’t possibly be quantified, however, while some were happy, a few others were not, in this category of the not-so-happy corpers were the regular debtors at the Mammy market…some drank so much beer that they ended up owing more than two months allowee, they had to drop their I.Ds before they were allowed to leave camp .
The second set were those who ‘enjoyed’ their escapades and freebies in camp, the playboys whose major achievement in camp was the number of lingeries they accessed.
There were also others, the camp housewives,who wore a sober look on their faces because they would be separated from their ‘husbands’.
The POP started around 8am, with opening prayers by a certain ‘senior’ corp member from the previous batch, the Ogun state governor never showed up, he only sent a not-so-respected secretary from the Youth ministry, we all murmured when he was introduced, some of us even commented that the Governor seems to have no regard for Corpers, while others think he didn’t show up as there was no political gain from such event.
The collection of PPA letter was the last on program for the day, albeit the most important, my prayer was to be posted to a good company, one that pays good money, this explains the joy that erupted on my face when I saw a company name on my PPA letter
“Bl*****d Nigeria limited, I jumped with spontaneous ecstasy, I was the envy of everyone around…
“Biggest boy, did you ‘runs’ (influence) it? Some asked..
My joy doubled when I got a free NCCF bus to my LGA, where I met two others, a guy and a girl who were posted to the same company.
We gist with great joy, prepared for interview questions and tested ourselves, we talked about dress code but discarded such talks when we were reminded by the NCCF Papa that we were Corpers, hence would go with uniforms and not suits and ties.
We read some “how-to-pass-interview” books sold to us at overrated prices in camp, one funny thing in camp was that every guest speaker was a King,a model, an achiever who has “made it”, and is only helping us by coming to tell us how to make it too, they spoke elaborately of the ‘wonders’ they’ve been able to achieve…little did we know most of them were hustling marketers,well, while some came to sell their hurriedly downloaded-and-edited books, others came to advertise their brands.
The Igbo boy among us suggested we bench-mark 35000 (Thirty five thousand) naira if asked how much we would like to get paid, ‘Nna na 35k o, if I join am with 19800 na over 54k be that, chai see money”
The girl, from Kogi, objected him, she was not the optimistic type, she talked like one who has seen it all, hence knows the reality, after a little argument, we agreed at 30,000 as the least, after all, for them to have requested corp members, the company should be a big one, so we thought.
The D-day finally came, we chartered a taxi cab to take us to the ‘city’ where our supposed company should be located, the Cab man requested for 2,000 naira, we paid without objecting,afterall we were going to a Big company where the pay will be big, we spent like Kings.
The taxi man appeared to us at first a Mad man when he left the highway and took a small path looking like a village route, we asked if he really knows our destination and he nodded in the affirmative, we then concluded within us that he must be taking a short cut to the Big town.
After a five minute drive, he stopped I front of a fenced compound with rusty gates and bushy environment, the gateman came out and the cab man told him we were going to Bl*****d company, we were expecting the gateman to show us the direction to the big City but instead, he gave us the biggest surprise we’ve had since we turned corpers, “This is Bl*****p farms”… Oh, we are looking for the company and not the farm, I protested in annoyance, “Yes my boy, this is Bl*****p, he then opened the gate and we were driven in, there were sheeps and a few goats roaming around, we also met some old women peeling cassava, while a dark young man was seen cleaning a place which looked like a fish pond, another young man was grinding the peeled washed cassava tubers, could this be the ‘Big company in a big city, or at he least, a big town we anticipated? I almost fainted!
Few minutes later, we were led to the house of the owners of the farm, it was a modest duplex, it was a house of city standard built in the village, we were welcomed by an old man whose fluency in English revealed as educated, he asked a few philosophical questions and laughed at almost every answer we gave, he then gave us some more boring philosophical lectures, garnished with stories of his exploits in his University and Civil service days, we were not invited into the house, he spoke to us besides the fence separating his house from the village maternity center.
Moments later, an equally old but agile woman approached, she was the owner of the company. She asked for our letters which we reluctantly presented, we almost prayed that she rejects us so we could seek better alternatives in the City, but she was so excited to have us around, too excited to send anyone away.
We were given rooms in a compound that looked like an estate, the only one in that village, with street lights and pipe borne water, the reality of the village environment seems to escape us on entering this big compound, we worked tirelessly late into the night arranging our wares.
The day after, we resumed at the farm a few minutes to eight, we had agreed to come to the table with a more reasonable salary of 20,000 naira after considering the present realities.
When it was time to discuss salary, the owner of the farms, Mummy as she was called, chose her terms wisely, she corrected us with “stipends” whenever we mentioned salary.
We were to work for six days a week, Monday to Saturday, from eight to six (8am to 6pm), I almost protested but decided to be calm, thinking the salary would be big enough to warrant such working hours.
“What I pay the previous corp members was 6,000 a monthly”
I asked to be sure if she mentioned 60,000 or 6,000 Naira monthly for six days a week job, she affirmed the later, Jesus wept? so did I !, just that mine was concealed behind frowned eyes.