Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Officially my last day at work!

Hey hey hey berryboos!

So today's my last day at my place of primary assignment! It's crazy how time flies so quickly! I remember my first full day here - I felt sick and my supervisor told me to go to the clinic, and it turned out to be a little parting gift from the mosquitoes at camp (darn malaria to hell!). So my first day turned to the week off trying to deal with that I-know-I'm-dying feeling.

I've had fun for the most part at work. I've made quite a number of friends. A lot of people I met were nice, helpful and kind to me. I would like to say I'm leaving on a high note, but I had a nasty experience here yesterday.

I went to the HR department with my friend (A). We were looking to pick up something from someone (C) who works there. I've helped C out over the past month with sending out information to other corpers in the office, so we have a pretty good working relationship. C wasn't at his desk when we got there, and I stood looking for the envelope I was supposed to pick up, while A saw a note on the opposite desk and started to read it. We'd been in there for less than 30 seconds when we heard:

BFHR: What are you doing in this office? Get out now!
Me and A: *stunned silence + confusion*
BFHR: What do you want?
Me: Oh, I came to look for C, wante.....
BFHR: Obviously he's not here! There are sensitive, confidential documents here and you can't stay so GET OUT!
Me and A: *start walking out*
BFHR: If you want to contact C, his number's on that note (the same one A was reading o). Take his number down and call him.
Me: *punches the number in my phone and starts to call*
BFHR: You cannot make phone calls in this office space! Leave this area immediately
Me: *already talking to C and walking away. I turn to look back and see her still yelling at A*

A and I get to the elevator and I had just finished my phone call with C, when who appears again?

BFHR: *pointing at me* You have a very bad attitude! How dare you walk away from me when I'm talking to you???!!!! (mind you, she HAD told me to get out and leave the area, so is she confused?)
Me: Erm, can I explain something to you?
BFHR: I don't want to hear anything! I'm sure you girls need something signed by HR. Well I'm the one in charge and you will see! I won't sign anything for you! You will not get any payment until next year!

And then she stalks off, with A and I looking at each other in bewilderment cos what the heck just happened and why? :-S

Now, I kept quiet for 2 reasons. I was in shock and I don't like to say anything when I'm angry because I would have cursed her out (Sorry Lord). By the time I had gotten home, I started planning my response. My first thought was to confront her this morning because nobody talks to me like that. I've met hundreds of people in this office and nobody can accuse me of a bad attitude. I got to work and proceeded to print out the HR Policy on Harassment. I had it in mind to take it to her office, drop it on her desk and ask her to explain to me how someone in HR is allowed to speak disrespectfully to other employees. And then it dawned on me... I'd been introduced to executive management (including VP HR) - so why not just go to him calmly and say "Uncle, good morning. *insert innocent smile* See what happened yesterday. I was treated with hostility, verbally intimidated and humiliated by BFHR (I had gotten her name). Please tell me what the best course of action is." YES, I CAN BE THAT VINDICTIVE!

Fortunately for her, my supervisor overheard me saying I wanted to report her for harassment and intervened. She said she would personally talk to the woman herself, because apparently she's a loose cannon and has exhibited such behavior in the past. I'm sure everyone else kept quiet and that's why she's still in that position. I won't take kindly to being disrespected for no reason, Nigeria or not. People need to get off this "well, it's Nigeria, it's bound to happen, just let it go." HELL TO THE NAW! I will not be bullied and sit back quietly.

Ok, this was a long post (sawry). Just felt the need to share. Gotta go finish up my last 1.5 hours here. Erm, I still dunno what I'm going to do - look for a job here, go back to my old job in Atlanta, or pursue Nollywood (I'm actually not kidding about this last point).

Have a BERRY PRETTY day! Don't forget to vote for this blog as the BEST TUTORIAL BLOG on the Nigerian Blog Awards.

Oh, and BFHR means *rhymes-with-WITCH* from HR :p

Monday, October 29, 2012

Your Local Government Office and Inspector


So I'm writing up this post because while I mentioned my LGI and going to the LG office on several occasions, I don't think I adequately described this aspect of NYSC. So for those new corps members who are going to camp next week, put this down in your mental jotter.

Local Government Office

When a corps member leaves the orientation camp, he/she is given a posting letter to a Place of Primary Assignment (PPA). If the corper's accepted by the organization, then the Local Government where the company is located, absorbs the corper. Basically, this is your first port of call for anything official. Some of the things you do here are:
  • Register after you've been accepted by your PPA
  • Sign up for Community Development Service (CDS)
  • Attend monthly General CDS - I don't believe this is done in every state. However in Lagos, all corps members are given one day in the last week of every month to come to their LG offices. The LGI addresses the corpers on necessary information and signs off on their CD cards to acknowledge that they attended General CD
  • Complete Monthly Clearance - Usually completed within the first week of each month, this is where corps members submit a letter from their employer stating that they came to work the previous month and completed their duties. This is required monthly in order to get the monthly NYSC allowance.
  • Complete Final Clearance - This is ideally the last time you'll go to the LG office (that is if you don't have any issues). This time your employer writes a letter stating that you have completed your service year with them, and have no outstanding responsibilities.
  • Bring complaints and write applications for various things - If you notice an allowance payment's missing, if you want to travel, if you want to go on leave (remember you're allowed 7 days through the year), if you want to do a special CDS project, if you're having issues with your PPA, etc

Local Government Inspector

Your LGI is the beginning and end of your NYSC service year. Keep him/her happy, make your life easy. Get them mad, welcome to 11 months of stress! Your LGI is your mother, father, brother, sister, aunty, uncle, cousin, best friend, and more during this time. Every official letter/application you write goes to your LGI first, before trickling up the ladder to your Zonal Inspector and then State Coordinator.

My LGI was pretty cool. While a lot of people thought he was mean, the truth of the matter was that he was simply stern. If you behaved properly, then he was nice to you. Flout the rules unnecessarily, and he would be a pain in your behind! It's a good thing that I had a good rapport with him, because when I truly needed something (hehe, I broke a rule), he was there to help out.

Ok, I think this is a pretty accurate description and covers what any corps member should know about their LG office and LGI. I dunno why we abbreviate LGI and not LGO :-S

Ah well, have a pretty week everybody and don't forget to VOTE for this blog as TUTORIAL BLOG OF THE YEAR on Nigerian Blog Awards.

Hugs to ya,

So I passed out from NYSC: Miss Tomi's Post-NYSC Interview

Hiya BooBerries!

I've got an exit interview from one of my friends who I met on my last day of camp. She turned out to be in the same Local Government as I was, so it was easy to get her to do an interview for me. In fact, she was WAY excited to do it, so here goes... Wait, before we go there, VOTE for me as TUTORIAL BLOG OF THE YEAR on Nigerian Blog Awards!

1. State your aje-butter credentials, according to Berry’s definition.

Hi guys! My name is Tomi, my aje-butter credentials which are not too aje butterish are: born and raised in Nigeria :D, regular summer jaunts, college in America, total time in obodo oyimbo was about 5 years and I hauled my ass back here to serve my wonderful country.

2. How would you summarize your NYSC experience from start to finish?

OMGGGG NYSC was crazy but amazing! There were times when I wanted to cry, times when I did cry and times when I had the best laughs. It was a struggle but I'm proud I did it.

3. What, if anything, did you learn during your NYSC year? Personally and/or career-wise?

Personally, I learnt that I am a really strong person, I don't know how to word that but there were some challenges I faced at work and in my personal life that I didn't think I would overcome. My grandpa died right before NYSC was supposed to start and I was soooo close to pulling out, but I didn't. Career wise, NYSC helped me realize that I do have a lot to offer; granted, school doesn't teach you how to deal with the real world but certain skills that I acquired at college put me ahead.

4. What are your personal views on the relevance of NYSC in Nigeria currently?

NYSC is relevant in the sense that it gives you a form of a gap year to develop yourself personally and professionally. During my NYSC, I took bead making classes which help me draw in some extra income, I became a distributor of Federico Mahora products and I started up my jewelry business. It's great to have that time to start a side hustle, lol. The only reason why I would say NYSC is irrelevant in Nigeria today is because of how poorly organized it is. People say they would rather spend that year trying to hustle but the hustle doesn't always work out and it's nice to have that N19,800 allowance from NYSC as fall back money.

5. Why did you decide to go through NYSC?

I decided to go through NYSC because in the long run, I want to be in Nigeria and I didn't want to have to start dealing with NYSC at a later age. I was very "Don't come back to Naij when you leave" but in junior/third year, I had the opportunity to come back and work and I realized that Nigeria had sooo much to offer so I quickly changed my plans.

6. What was your experience like in camp? Favorite/worst memories?

I was in Lagos camp and it was crazzzzzzzy!!!! LOOOL all the "big boys and girls", I was in camp for 13 days (had to leave for gramps burial) and I got sick once but it was cool beans. My FAAAAVE memory in camp was indomie and Heineken every night... I had a vendor guy there, and the moment he saw me approaching, a nice cold Heineken was gleaming at me!!! Haha, I also enjoyed the "Fayrouz club," which was a tent with a good DJ. I was in a room with some amazing ladies. Honestly, Lagos camp was on a different level with the drunken nights annnd the Mr. Macho competition?? Eye Candy Galore. My WORST memory was frog jumping from one end of the parade ground to the other end but it was fun when I saw some other people rolling on the floor. I really didn't mind waking up early and marching on the parade ground.

7. What would you change in the NYSC program?

The organization sucks major asssss! Instead of having to take a letter to do clearance every month, I would have a portal for supervisors at work to enter some form of attendance for corpers and certify that the corpers have been coming to work.

8. What CD group did you join, and was the experience worthwhile?

I was in the Education CD group and it was ok. I only taught like 4 times because a lot of times, my girls weren't at school due to different reasons so after a while I just let it go.

9. Do you have any advice for incoming aje-butter corpers?

Oh man, incoming aje-butters, dust up your agbero skills because they will come in handy. Try to do things on time and always keep in touch with your LGI or a fellow corper who always has all the latest news. Have a decent attitude about NYSC and try and make the most of it. Definitely try and acquire a skill during your service year and network like a crazy person. Pride won't take you too far as a corper but also don't kiss everyone's ass.

10. What are your plans post-NYSC?

I want to keep working for a year before I go back for grad school; definitely want to take a break for about a month and see my Chicago babies and I'm still making beads and selling them and being a distributor for FM. Watch out for LĂșlĂș accessories in December.

Bonus question: What are you going to do with your NYSC uniform/kit?

LOOOOOL, ok so once I got my certificate and walked outta camp, the moment I got to the car, I took off my jungle boots and left them on the side of the road. My khakis and jacket are stashed at the back of my closet, no plans for those yet.

Thanks for interviewing me!!! Kisses and love
Tomilola Olotu

*PS: So Tomi was a baaaaaaaaaaaaaad girl! No wonder I didn't meet her until camp was over. Me, miss goody-two-shoes and she as Miss Mami Market :p. Just kidding! Wish you all the best sweetie!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Vote for me for the Nigerian Blog Awards!


Just a short one here... I'm sooooo thankful for the nomination, and now let's see if I can score a win!

  1. Go to
  2. Enter your name and email address (if you nominated me, they already have your info)
  3. Select 'The Aje-butter's Guide to NYSC' in the Best Tutorial Blog category (and feel free to vote in other categories as well)
  4. Submit
  5. Check your email (Spam folder if it's not in your inbox) and click on the link in the email from Nigerian Blog Awards for your vote to be counted.

Piece o' cake, innit? (I want caaaaaaaaaaake but I'm on a diet right now)

Thank you!!!!!!!! One thousand million hugs from moi!

Berry :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

I got nominated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAY, more victory dancing!!!

Thanks to everyone who sent in a nomination for the Nigerian Blog Awards! I've been stalking their site every day this week to see if I would get a nomination. My first time out, and YES I DID...and it's all THANKS TO YOU, MY BERRYLICIOUS BERRYFUL FRIENDS!!!!!

I love you, you, you, you AND YOU MOST ESPECIALLY!

I'm so excited I might replace booty-dancing with azonto as my new victory dance!

Ok, calming down now. I got nominated under the Best Tutorial Blog category and voting begins next Monday, October 22nd until November 11th.

I'll be putting up reminders to vote, so get readaaaaaaaaaaay.

P.S. - While I may not be closer to knowing what direction my life goes in, after the 31st of this month, I've got 2 ideas for a new blog to start January 1st. Still shopping the idea around with my friends to see which seems more interesting.

Thanks again for the nominations! BIGGEST HUGS N KISSES TO YOU!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I've had the time of my life...

Hi guys!

Sooooooooooo, I'd been looking forward to today - Passing Out day, and it finally came. I decided to ride with some of my friends and the journey from the island to Iyana-Ipaja camp took forever and a day! Okay, it took 2 hours, but this should have been a 1-hour journey. Anyways, after our looooooong journey there, I went to the appropriate line, as they had separated everyone into groups. It looks like there were about 8000 corps members in Lagos alone! Because we got there late, there wasn't actually a line at my section, and I walked straight up, turned in my Final Clearance letter, Copy of my Posting Letter, CD Card, and ID card and finally...

I picked up my NYSC certificate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am NO LONGER Nigeria's property!

I am NO LONGER Otondo anybody!

I am NO LONGER Ajuwaiya!

I SHALL NOT be wearing that uniform EVER AGAIN.... actually, I want to wear the jacket as a dress (I'll post a picture if I pull it off). Some people actually threw their boots and shirts away right there and then :p

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

*victory dance*

Love ya berryful Berryboos!!! Thanks for all your support and reading! I've got a few exit interviews lined up, including mine. But THANK GOD IT'S OVER! I think I'm staying home tomorrow to savor this feeling. I need a holiday, innit?

Hugs n kisses!

Monday, October 15, 2012

What didn't I cover?


Seeing as I'm almost done, I want to make sure that I covered pretty much every single aspect of the service year. What I know I didn't post about are the following:

  • Your NYSC Local Government Office/Local Government Inspector
  • General CD (Community Development)
If there's anything else I'm missing, please let me know so I can cover it.

I have a very special post that I'll do after passing out on Thursday, so stay tuned :)

Berry berry quite contrary :p

Most Hardworking Corps Member Award goes to...

Most definitely NOT me.

But you know how at the bottom of my page, there's a feed with headlines about NYSC? Well, an article caught my eye about this corps member in Ekiti state who built a bus stop in the area, as part of her Community Development Service. Here's a link to the article: Igbara-Odo, NYSC lauds corps member for Bus Stop project.

I wanted to see pictures, so I googled her name: Mepuzami Ogini, and guess what else I found out? She also organized an inter-school debate on "Examination Malpractice: Who Is to Blame, the Home or the School." The link to that article is at: Corps Member Challenges Communities on Exam Malpractice.

Ms. Ogini serves as a teacher in Alaretue Comprehensive High School, Igbara-Odo.

Like, this chick is on a roll! I'm voting for her to be the country's next president! Whoever knows her should congratulate her heartily for me - She's the future Nigeria needs!

Berry regards everyone!

PS - Passing out is this Thursday and guess what - parade rehearsals were canceled!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Back to Lagos Camp...

Hey Berryboos,

Sooooo, first of all, thank God I completed my Final Clearance last week Wednesday. A friend of mine started hers on Friday and finished on Saturday. But that's not as bad as another friend who started on Friday and finished on Monday - his file was missing :-o

Anyways, you know how the NYSC Passing Out Circular said we all had to be excused from work to go back to our camps for different activities - Job Awareness Seminar and Passing Out Parade rehearsals? Well, like I said earlier, NYSC says it's mandatory to attend these things, while some of my 2012 Batch B corper friends said they got their certificates without attending anything. Just to be on the safe side, my friends and I decided to go and at least sign the attendance sheet, if nothing else. We spent 1 hour going to Iyana-Ipaja (NYSC Lagos Camp), 1 hour there (luckily we got the attendance sheet before it started being passed around - yours truly was first to sign it :-D), and 2 hours going back to the island. I'm not going back for any silly rehearsals - I'm not marching, so what the heck do they need me for?

Being back in Iyana-Ipaja was SURREAL! I can't believe I spent 3 whole weeks in that environment - like what the heck was I thinking??? Honestly, if I had to do it again, I'm not entirely sure I'd stay in camp the whole time... Although my goody-two-shoes nature would have stopped me from scheming to leave. Ah well, I did it, it's in the past, the whole journey's almost over.

LOL, while I ironed my khakis yesterday, I was literally grumbling to myself that after October 18th, 2012, I will TEAR THIS PIECE OF CRAP TO SHREDS!!!!!!!!!! As much as I complained about the poor quality of the uniforms given to us, I must admit that the trousers held up quite well. I've worn the same pair once a week for almost one full year - and no tears, no holes, no nothing. Obviously, I bought my own white t-shirts, cos theirs was beyond horrible. Maybe I'll donate what I don't want to charity... But would anyone really want to wear the sneakers and boots randomly?

I'm beginning to feel the pangs of withdrawal now. For one year, my whole life has been NYSC-focused. Now it's almost over and I have no clear path as of this moment. I need something else to keep me busy, and so far, no likely job prospects. I definitely do not want to be retained, because I did NOTHING at all in my department at work and I'll go crazy if I stay. Maybe I'll see if I can come back through another department? Or maybe I WILL go back to Atlanta for a year or two, but still keep my eyes open for other opportunities in Nigeria.

I've given myself 2 months to play, in the meantime. So November/December will be for me to laze about, watch as much TV as I want, travel (GHANA, ENGLAND, and TANZANIA are on my current destination wishlist).

HEY! What happens to this blog after I'm done??? I need ideas and suggestions. Does a new 2012 Batch C corper want to share his/her stories on here? I know I've enjoyed blogging, and would want to continue, but I need a new sustainable angle. NO to Fashion, Hair, News blogging! Maybe Travel - Berry's Adventures? Or an advice column - Dear Berry? Or if somebody proposes and I accept, a wedding blog - Berry Getting Married?

Ah, I dunno. Gotta go get some work done.

Revlon Blackberry lipstick kisses to you! (lol, even my lipstick shade has Berry in it - Choiiiiiiiiii, I'm too good - ok, that was very razz of me :p)


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Final Clearance Drama!

Hey y'all,

So, two weeks from today, I will be officially done with NYSC! Mehn, does time fly by or what? Actually, it's felt like a really long year, although I remember my first foray into this NYSC service year. I thank God cos it's almost over - and also for helping me get through yesterday! What happened yesterday, you ask... I'll tell you - FINAL CLEARANCE!

Ok, so I've briefly mentioned Monthly Clearance before (Now That Camp Is Over) - where you submit a letter from your PPA (employer) to your LGI (Local Government Inspector) saying that you worked the previous month...

*side note* maybe before I'm done, I can write a mini NYSC dictionary post explaining what everything is, including acronyms? And another post on 'Introducing Your LGI Office.' *end side note*

Anyways, the month of passing out, you have to submit a Final Clearance letter from your employer, stating that you worked through your service year satisfactorily, don't owe them anything, and that you will now be discharged and handed over back to NYSC. In addition to the letter, you have to submit your cleared CDS card - this is signed by your CD leader or LGI, depending on what CD you joined, and they'll sign off that you completed your CD expectations. Now, since I was in a special CD group, I had to get mine cleared in the NYSC Secretariat in Surulere. This is where the drama happened.

I submitted my card to the head of JASA, under which a lot of special CD groups operate, and she said to get a note from another official saying that he'd looked over my card and it was good to go. This official does most of the signing when we come to CD every week. So I give him the card to look over and he says there's something wrong - that 2 of the signatures on the card are forged, so he can't clear me! WHA THE WHA WHA?!?!?! :-O I'm like "Dude, I haven't forged nothing. I've been coming consistently, every single week. Done all the work required. Submitted my card to you or my CD instructor for signing. I ain't never touched that card to write anything!" And so the back and forth ensued. He actually even wrote a note clearing all the other Batch C corpers, and refused to write my state code to clear me. See me see wahala! The signatures he was talking about were from January, during the strike over the fuel subsidy - at which point, no CDs were even being held! During that period, we were told to submit our cards to our CD instructors so that they could validate them. Which leads me to believe that my CD instructor forged this guy's signature.

Anyways, said CD instructor was with me at the time, trying to argue with the guy on my behalf. He joked with him, pleaded with him, even went so far as lying. Apparently, some 2011 Batch B corps members had forged his signature on their cards, and were reprimanded. So my CD instructor said that my card was among those that had been compromised at that time, and since those were already settled, then the guy should clear me. Now, most people would allow that lie to be told, but I protested. I said "Mr CD Instructor, I know you're lying, trying to get this guy to clear my card, but I can't stand here and let him question my character and integrity. I have done NOTHING wrong, so please don't lie on my behalf." The other Batch C corps members told me to keep quiet and just beg the guy, and I completely refused to! Why should I beg when I did nothing wrong? Begging is as good as admitting that I forged his signature and I did nothing of the sort, so I was willing to stay and argue with him until the office closed! And anyways, he'd asked my CD instructor for my phone number at some point, and was rebuffed, so I think this was his way of getting back at me. *rolling eyes*

Long story short, I stood my ground, and my card got cleared eventually. If I see that ninny anywhere else in my life, Imma give him a real talking to! Next step, going to my NYSC local government office to complete my final clearance. I got there at 1:30pm and expected to be there until 4, maybe 5pm - it's best to mentally prepare yourself for these things so that you don't get aggravated or frustrated. I'd like to say it was a seamless process, but it really wasn't. First of all, we've got a new LGI, and this was her first time of handling us. As soon as I got there, she left to have lunch for about 45 minutes. During that time, I got the necessary documents together, made photocopies, and paid for some bogus items (NYSC foundation, Eko Corper magazine, and somn else - I dunno what it was). We had to pay for those things, or else we wouldn't get the clearance done. From 2:30 to 4:00pm, we got in line, were told to sit down, lined up sitting down, lined up standing up, lined up sitting down again, lined up standing up, and finally lined up standing according to gender. Of course this whole time, people are fighting, shoving, skipping lines, and just being general nuisances. But thank the Lord, I got everything I needed DONE!


The next things to worry about are going back to camp for the Job Awareness seminar (rolls eyes), Passing Out Parade rehearsals (more rolling eyes), and finally the Passing Out Parade, where I pick up my certificate! I'm not sure about going to camp before the Passing Out Parade. On one hand, I heard they take attendance and they're beginning to be really strict... on the other hand, 2 Batch B corps members I know skipped everything and still got their certificates. We'll see. I'm a goody-two shoes, so I'll at least check out the seminar and one rehearsal. Jesus, just help the next 2 weeks go by quickly.

Whew! Longer post than I thought. Gotta get to work. Have a berry pretty day ladies and gentlemen :)