#DiaryOfAnOtondo: “All we are saying…!”

by Yomi Kazeem


It doesn’t feel out of place to clear my throat and begin this entry with an old Pete Edochie-like proverb, after all, I’m in Abia State. So here it goes:


‘If you push a chicken to the wall long enough, one day the chicken will turn around and fight!’


Now scratch chicken and replace it with corps members, what you get is a mini revolution. Yes, we’re getting very irritable in camp these days.


Soldiers usually have the last say here and we obey their every command but recently, there has been a limit. When you wake up a hall filled with about 200 sleepy men for a parade at night and supposedly to give them ‘some information’, then you should expect men to be boys. It happened one night and immediately whispers became grumbles and grumbles became protests; some muttered: ‘We choose sleep, we’ll parade in the morning’ and with that they turned around and went to snore instead of stand at attention.

“All I want right now is my allowance.”




Another situation making us quite irritable is our dear old Mammy market which used to be our refuge. These days ‘Mammy’ isn’t as vibrant, it is probably because we’ve all gone broke. No-one is looking forward to going home anymore; we’re all waiting for our allowance aka ‘allowi’ to be paid first. Broke corpers are hungry corpers and some are running tabs in ‘Mammy’ market hence it’s safe to think that whenever ‘allowi’ is paid, most of it will be ‘invested’ in ‘Mammy’ or otherwise used to service debts. Rumours have it that some guys already owe in excess of N30, 000 but they promise to pay once allowances are received. I wonder how that adds up though when allowance is only N19, 800.


The mood in camp is sombre. Everyone is tired and nothing races our hearts anymore. The sound of the trumpet that signals the time for various activities isn’t as threatening as it used to be when we first got here. In the first week, the trumpet had us scrambling out of the hall, in the second week it had us grumbling but now we’re just oblivious to it. The soldiers themselves are tired. They no longer chase us around with vigour and their stern looks have softened. There was this time at camp when the sound of the trumpet went off. It signified that it was time for us to move to the main hall for one of the lectures, the soldiers came in as usual to hurry us up but ended up…let’s just say- they decided to hang out.


 Those lectures are boring to say the least. After 4 years of study, please understand that the last thing we all want is to listen to the very thing we thought we just overcame: boring lectures. That was not all, after the lectures, they’ve made it a habit to rip us off by selling books.  I understand when motivational lectures market motivational books at the end but when lecture officials deliver talks on the EFCC and FRSC then put books for sale afterwards, it becomes shocking.


Moving on from boring lectures to something more interesting; postings are going to be announced soon. Everyone hopes they would get posted to a fancy bank and it would be in the big city but I really don’t care to be honest. All I want right now is my allowance.


Follow Yomi’s adventures on Twitter @TheYomiKazeem


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