By Timileyin Akinkahunsi and Ojoi Ijagah
Punch Nigeria. SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2018.
For Dorcas Ifeji, the best time of her life was in 2016, the year she participated in the one-year mandatory National youth service programme. And all of the excitement was down to the three weeks she spent in the National Youth Service Corps orientation camp in Taraba State.
Ifeji described her experience in camp as the time of her life she would always relish. As a fresh graduate, she had thought that the regimented life in the camp, with soldiers keeping a watchful eye on corps members, would be stressful, but she was wrong. The experience was almost like nothing changed for the party-loving lady.
"We had a place called Club Zero behind the Mammy Market (usually a market in military barracks where food, beverages and other things are sold); it was like a clubhouse," she said with a sheepish smile.
"Club Zero was where everything unimaginable happened in the camp. It was just behind the Mammy Market. You could get to smoke weed, party and indulge in everything irregular; some adventurous people even made out in the open.
"What made Club Zero interesting was because the soldiers in the camp usually let their guards down there, looking for free beer from the guys and willing girls to flirt with. Some soldiers were lucky enough to find drunk and vulnerable girls who would follow them to their quarters for private business.
"It was normal to see corps members in pairs, kissing, groping and doing sexually suggestive things in Club Zero. The place was dimly lit so the atmosphere was conducive for certain actions. A day really stood out for me: people were shouting and I was wondering what could have happened. Then I realised that a guy and a lady had just been found having sex in a corner at Club Zero.
"The act should have attracted serious punishment but people actually hailed them and after the noise went down, all the soldiers present there said was 'una must buy us one crate of beer o' (you must buy us a crate of beer)."
Since the national youth service is compulsory for Nigerian graduates under the age of 30, those seeking employment are required to show proof of participation or formal exemption from taking part in it as a prerequisite for getting jobs in the country.