Former Student Government Association President Basil Abia, currently serving the nation at the Next Edition newspaper, has stirred a conversation on the twitter-sphere about the mandatory national service experience.
On the AUNigeria twitter handle, Abia moderated a discussion on “NYSC: Expectations versus the Reality.”
After the initial three weeks of camping in Katsina State, he proceeded to Government Girls Science School in Daudawa, his place of primary assignment. Abia was shocked to find the school rejected him on the basis of gender.
Left with no choice, he returned to the state capital, where he was later reassigned to a mixed-gender school in Funtua, 70 km from Daudawa.
There, he was assigned to teach Government to a class of 158 SS2 students, out of which only five could barely converse in English.
Reminiscing on the values instilled in him from years of community service work at AUN, he drew strength to face the daunting challenges that lay ahead, recognizing that life outside the confines of the university was less predictable, and together with a few NYSC colleagues, initiated free English and math lessons in the evening for SS3 students preparing for WAEC/NECO.
“It was a beautiful experience,” he said, as he was able to engage the students in both Hausa and English, which aided his teaching. Running out of chalk or the lack of teaching staff in the community schools did not stop the Corps members. “We simply had to improvise; the future of Nigeria is in our hands.”
The alum also shared how he faced the harsh living conditions, fending off poisonous snakes and drinking colored water. He ended up battling with severe typhoid, which left him bedridden for about a week, and with a recommendation from the doctors at the Federal Medical Centre, he was relocated to serve in Abuja.
Basil confessed that he expected NYSC to be easy, but in reality, he learned that serving others meant, to a measure, sacrificing his comfort.
He is currently a reporter with an online news agency, a career far-fetched from his ICP major. He credits AUN’s liberal arts education for allowing him to take free electives in news writing, which helped him breeze seamlessly into the newsroom, and in the last three months he has since published over 50 articles.
“AUN has taught me skills that not only help me excel out here, but also analyze societal issues and proffer viable solutions to them, no matter how small.”
By Nelly Ating
Editor’s note: To read the full conversation here, Basil's tweets, follow @AUNigeria on Twitter. Every month we will be sharing exciting Twitter Takeovers by our Alumni. Anticipate the next chat with alumna Kene Nwagbo. She will be moderating the topic, “From AUN to Cambridge: How I Won the Derek Cooper Scholarship.”