By Ire Niran, Abeokuta
Three – week long orientation programme in camp has just been concluded for the Batch B Stream 1, at their various camps across the country. And same for the excitement of the camp life, that morning routine drills heralded by the not – so – easily forgotten beagle sound, which often rudely jolted one up the bed at a time the body felt it needed more sleep, the meeting and making of new friends from fellow campers across the universities as well as the initial joy that followed the receiving of the PPA letters (Primary place of assignment) which is mandatory for the one year service. All of those ended the second one stepped out of the camp site. A new reality begins as one stepped into the larger society to join the rest of the co – compatriots and Nigerians.
Expectedly, a lot of the corps members were posted to organisations and schools domiciled in Abeokuta South Local Government, home to the state capital, Ogun State … The Gateway State of the people.
Checks by The Daily Crucible revealed that some of the Corps members are yet to stabilize in their new environment. A good number of them are still grappling with the challenges of getting the basic necessities such as accommodation, handling biases and culture shock while a few other shared tales of exploitation by some inconsiderate transporters who cashed in on their naivety as strangers to charge them double of the normal fares for a given distance. To some others too, theirs is the discomfort of coping with the demands of new life in an equally new place resulting from days or a week – long total blackout from power distribution company and lack of water for basic sanitations.
Bunmi is one of such new corps members posted to Abeokuta South from the Batch B Stream 1, having completed her orientation in Sagamu. She hails from Ondo state.
Bunmi who is in Ogun State for the first time, told our reporter that it hasn’t been easy since the last few weeks of her staying in the Rock City.
She complained of routine exploitation by some unscrupulous transporters who took advantage of her being new in town to charge more than normal fare for any drop. “I paid those bike men double money each time as I’m not familiar with the cost of transportation here,” she lamented.
Electricity power supply at her area is pathetic. Bunmi said she moved into her new neighbourhood before it dawned on her that the place had acquired the sobriquet title of “No Electricity area.”
According to her, since she secured an apartment in the area, residents barely have power supply to pump water or do other necessary things.
“Searching for water all around my area hasn’t been easy at all. Relocating from Owo in Ondo state to this place has not been good yet because the stress here is much. Going to work (PPA), one has to wait for like 10/15minutes looking for cab, because motorcycle Is more costly, which is not convenient for me at all,” she told our reporter.
She said another challenging thing she faced came during the search for accommodation, explaining that it was stressful.
“Generally things are quite expensive here, checking out a room apartment cost N65,000k (Sixty – five thousand naira) yearly while a self – contain is around N150,000K (One hundred and Fifty Thousand naira) upward. Also, the agents here are not friendly. Adapting to the new environment here won’t be that easy but with time I’ll adjust, since change is constant,” Bunmi said.
For Miss Sarah David, the cost of living in Abeokuta generally is higher than where she came from.
Miss David, a corp member, who hails from Jos, the Plateau State capital, said adjusting to the new environment is not an easy thing. She said the experience seemed common among her colleagues in Abeokuta, citing what she considered as the high transportation fare as an example.
“The amount I spent on transportation alone is much,” Miss David said, just as she also accused residents of not being friendly.
According to her, “The people here aren’t friendly. The reactions one gets from people around are not encouraging for one to stay at all….The cost of transportation, getting an apartment, unfriendly indigenes are sources of concern to me,” she said.
But another corps member, Chuks Afam, who hails from Imo state thinks and feels differently.
According to him, adjusting to the new environment of Abeokuta means readiness to be open minded, adapting to change quickly to get to meet and know new people from different tribes and cultures and learning new things from them.
“It is about trying out new delicacies, new way of life and most importantly making the best use of the service year in Abeokuta. And adjustment comes with time but some people want everything to fall in place at once. It doesn’t happen that way.
“It is a normal process to pass through in life. I didn’t see big deal in adjusting to new environment, it’s a phase in life that needs to be treated,” Uche said.