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"Caution and scepticism were my feelings in the Niger Delta"
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"Caution and scepticism were my feelings in the Niger Delta"

Commonwealth Correspondent Ayodeji Morakinyo, 24, offers the latest diary instalment from his national service military training in the Niger Delta, known as a hotspot for kidnappings.

Before travelling to Delta State, I had heard of militancy and their newly carved industry of kidnapping.

One time, I read in a national newspaper that Niger Delta militants, mainly comprising unemployed youths, would abduct innocent people and hold them to ransom.

At that time, they had kidnapped several key workers of oil exploration companies, a few expatriate journalists and some national celebrities, including their relatives.

So, when I arrived at the NYSC camping ground in Issele-Uku, caution and scepticism were my overriding feelings. I was careful about who I exchanged greetings with and watchful of my surroundings. But in a matter of weeks, both feelings went away with the winds and I settled down quickly to make a few new friends.

Nurse Uche was the first friend I made. We both had arrived on the same day and came prepared. After registration, I met old friends from school and we hung out often. But I made other friends too. Bode, Ayo, Sinmi, Ruth, Kioya, Oni, Samson and Stella are some of them.

My hostel was named after its donor, Obi of Issele-Uku. I was in room 2 and slept on bed 2 of bunk 1. I had 23 roommates! So, it was an opportunity to adapt new co-existing skills. We were all people from different backgrounds and nursed various views on issues discussed.

I had to join the athletics team because the broadcasting team was full and all efforts to persuade the responsible recruiter proved unsuccessful. All platoons had to wake up around 4am. By 5am we had to be standing on the parade ground or else we would face punishments.

I was always punctual at the parade ground and courageously withstood the morning cold. But I did not visit the hospital until the day I suddenly began to sneeze uncontrollably and had to visit Doctor Omoh and Nurse Uche. They took good care of me and handed me some drugs.

But unknown to them, I hate drugs – even the ones that have good intentions. The doctor told me to dust my mattress because it was probably dusty. And truly, it always was.

Though I dusted it regularly, some of my roommates just had a penchant for lying on it. So, they often slept in a position opposite my favourite one, placing their legs on my pillow spot and getting it dusty. Yet, I managed to love that life.

… To be continued.

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About me:

“I am an animated and artistic writer hailing from the southwest region of Nigeria. I hold a degree in electronics and electrical engineering and am certified as an IT professional.

“On days when I am not busy with engineering and management activities, I write prose poems, short stories and journalistic commentaries. In the coming years, I hope to help other people’s lives around the world and aid in the reformation of Africa.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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