A corps member that completed his service year, 2018 batch ‘B’ Stream 1 title his experience as the death sentence when he saw his posting letter last year.
Friday, July 20th, 2018; I was seated in my Boss‘s office working tirelessly to meet up his demands, at the same time, my heart was heavy because I was expecting the unexpected.
The unexpected, Yes, It was the day that would determine where I would spend the next one year of my life.
I kept on checking my phone for notifications from WhatsApp or from whoever has seen his/her National Youth Service Corps deployment letter.
As the clock ticks I was becoming more nervous. Around the midday, I checked the NYSC portal, just to find SOKOTO STATE as my state of deployment.
I became weak, humbled and restless.
I prayed to the Lord to favor my posting and I saw two different visions, the first one I was deployed to the Eastern part of Nigeria and the second one I saw myself in Lagos, south west Nigeria.
What exactly could have happened?
Is it that God has left me?
I didn’t hesitate to place a call through to my Mum, the question she asked me upon hearing that Sokoto was the way was “will you go?” and I replied Yes!
I walked home from work that day telling the relevant people in my life that I was heading to Sokoto in a couple of days; hmm, people can sympathize!
They were sympathizing with me; I too developed self pity…
My dad is a great source of encouragement, his words was just that “God knows the best”
It was as if I had just been sentenced to death…
That evening, someone confronted me and asked if I never prayed about it at all, I told her that I did but she was very unhappy because I have to leave Ogun state for “The end of the world like Sokoto state”
Being posted to the north to serve is not just about the length of the journey but the security challenge in the country is a major headache.
No parent will be happy to have their children posted to such a place.
It was like a death sentence!
So many people advised me to redeploy immediately, but redeployment can only come on health grounds or on maternal or marital grounds; I was not sick, neither was I pregnant or married.
Another option was to request for redeployment due to security reasons, but its very rear for such reasons to be considered. The other option was to forge a health illness certificate and test results showing that I have a terminal disease or a life threatening sickness, never!
Can you see how people go extra miles to destroy themselves just because of NYSC? People that are not sick are forging test results just to get the state of their choice. If any of such evil they invited now happened to them, who is to blame?
Those who redeployed may have their reasons, but I would never claim a disease or an infirmity that is not mine just to stay in the South West.
Some actually paid their way through but you know it’s wrong too…
I have afore proposed in my heart to go wherever God leads me. He would not have brought me thus far to destroy me, never!
On Sunday 22ndJuly 2019 my pastor made the announcement in the church that I was leaving for Sokoto state, come and see the sympathetic words and prayers from my people, counseling here and there; So many people even gave me gifts to take along, I was showered with love, people were greeting my parents in advance and my siblings too were emotional about my departure to the up North.
I say it again; it was like a death sentence; but the Lord kept me safe in His arms.
On Monday 23rd July 2018, I set out to Ibadan to join the bus going to the desert land of Sokoto; the journey of seventeen hours started around 6pm that day.
I received several calls through the night from different people, they checked on me till I got into the Seat of the caliphate the following day.
Was the journey that easy?
No of course, the Lord saved us several times from evils that we didn’t know, several people were robbed, but we didn’t experience such.
Even when our driver started dozing while driving, the Lord made someone in the bus to quickly notice and wakes him up; who knows when he has been sleeping? Indeed God kept us!
Twenty-one days in Camp Wamakko Sokoto state was fun filled for me, I must confess; the Lord sent so many people ahead to help me, I enjoyed the warmth of spiritual leadership from my roommates, although one of them didn’t have the grace to run this race to the end as he passed on in March 2019, after a brief illness; so sad.
God’s not dead. He kept me, I didn’t die. May His Holy name be glorified!
I tried influencing my posting from the camp but the spirit of the Lord was restrained me, just after the camp I found myself in a thick village called GIGANE.
As I was reporting there that day, it was as if I was heading to the end of the world, my eyes were filled with tears, I regretted that I didn’t obey my friends to do a reposting to town but I was still convinced that the Lord was with me.
Well, some people that had their reposting to town blamed later themselves…
I stayed in Gigane Gwadabawa local government area of Sokoto State, not too far from the Niger Republic for eleven months and I survived.
It wasn’t easy struggling to adapt in such an environment that is hostile to my way of life, but I survived.
I survived where there are no churches, no social gatherings that I’m familiar with, noNo Owanbe; no basic amenities, no portable water, and no electricity!
Oh the good Lord kept me, I didn’t Die!
There were times that I was down with illness, I mean terrible illness, the Lord raised me up, He didn’t abandon me; Glory to Him.
There were days of lack and hunger, days when I could turn to no one but God sent his Angels to be on guard.
I experienced the ministering of Angels!
Even with the religious disparities, the Lord still empowered me to serve Him in such a place!
See, Northern Christians deserves a special recognition, if not for the persecutions and hostility, but for the lack of encouragements.
Honestly, my experience in Sokoto is a plus to my life.
Sokoto is said to be the most peaceful state in Nigeria, well, maybe, but there were times that several evils were being reported, but God kept me!
Insurgency in the North, Disease outbreak and several other evils didn’t affect me, but with my ears I heard about them.
There were times that I have to travel at night in such an environment; even during the elections, I walked in the valley of the shadows of death, still, the Lord kept me; this is my gratitude oh Lord!
One thing I want everyone to know is that Death is not a location but a spirit!
There were people that served in the Southwest but still died;
So don’t ever think that serving in the North is a death sentence!
Let your mentality about life change.
There is no place that is secured, not even your home!
Security is with the great Divine, it can only be Him, He kept me, and He saw me through.
Don’t be afraid, the Lord is forever with you, He won’t lead you thus far to destroy you!
Get glued to Him, He will see you through in the journey of life. Amen.
Special thanks to everyone that made my service year a memorable one. Thank you all.
Ok now; Stephen, which way?
Yeah, job hunting with a Sociology degree, SecondClassHons. (Upper division) from Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago Iwoye Ogun State.
Who knows? God can use you for me.
Thanks in anticipation.
Above all, I didn’t die because Jesus kept me, He will keep you too! Amen.
THE GREAT STEVE
STEPHEN ABIOLA OKUNLOLA