Tosin Alabi


Msugh ior Benue

As a young ambitious lady, I have always anticipated my NYSC year and great wonder when alas I graduated from the prestigious University of Ibadan finally. I was intrigued at what state I would be posted to, well believe me when I say my interest became indifferent when I saw Benue State in my portal. Nevertheless, I traveled with an open mind. What harm could Benue cause, it was after the food basket of the nation and as a foodie, my expectations began to rise.
I knew Benue State wouldn’t be as posh as Lagos that I grew up in but I never expected to see people still living in huts in this day and time. Look at my shocked expression as the driver drove into Benue state. I felt like I was in one of those epic movies with the small huts and large farmlands. The distance between one hut to another could run into some meters which made my journey feel endless.
Makurdi saved the day with its urbanity. The city bubbled with people and daily business activities which made me wonder how other towns could be so different from the state capital. Some passersby who noticed my big box hailed and welcomed me by waving at me. It was quite amusing for someone who came from the city of “mind your business”, well who am I to complain? And oh! Did I mention I passed River Benue? I have always heard of it, never thought much of it but it felt good seeing the river.
I traveled from Makurdi to Wannune where the NYSC camp is situated with no complaint of traffic, in fact, the road was almost deserted by pedestrians and the few I saw felt contented walking under the hot sun to wherever their destinations were. There was no sign of bus stops unlike the usual in Lagos and Ibadan which wasn’t surprising.
On getting to the camp, I was exhausted. I mean, I had just spent six hours from Abuja, passing through Nassarawa to Wannune after taking an hour flight from Lagos to Abuja because Benue state didn’t have a functioning airport. If I had known the journey was going to be that long, I would have endured and enjoyed a road trip from Lagos.
The NYSC camp was not what I had imagined considering the information that experienced corp members had been sharing with me. The camp had a lot of hills and dry land, the rooms quite spacious to accommodate at most 10 people.
The orientation session made me realize that there were seven major ethnic groups; Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Etulo, Utono, Akpa, and Igala. I also met people from different states and tribes which is one of the aims of the NYSC, and it was a beautiful though annoying at many points, encounter. While I might have enjoyed the activities of platoons and the snippy jokes and attacks of the soldiers, I couldn’t bear the heat! The sun was scorching which contradicted the freezing morning before dawn. It made me wonder if Benue state is an ‘extremist’.

My three weeks were spent trying to win activities for platoons and of course going to Maami, the market square of the camp to eat Pounded Yam. Amazing, unlike the western parts that I came from Yam was considerably cheap which made pounded yam an option because a plate was N400 and quite filling, especially Mama Tope’s servings. You might be wondering why I buy pounded yam every time, me too! Benue state is after all the food basket of the nation but the local rice cooked at the camp kitchen was a no! And the soups? Ah! Not for me biko. I wouldn’t fault the cooks considering the number of people they were cooking for nevertheless, I love good food. Their pap and akara though were wonderful, they do know how to make a good pap. The majority of corpers anticipated this meal. I didn’t have the liberty to taste Benue indigenous food but the words of rating from corp members who aren’t indigenes weren’t encouraging.
After the orientation service, I left Benue back to Lagos. This time I passed through Enugu so I had the luxury of time to enjoy the view. It took over three hours to get to Enugu, we passed different local governments in Benue state, and believe me when I say what I saw wasn’t encouraging.

I saw different corpers lodges which were huts, and some communities haven’t had light for months! Because of this, I couldn’t get a fresh palm wine as it wasn’t cold. Also, I believe a state experiencing herdsmen attack should provide adequate lighting just for safety measures.
But while some local governments had issues, many others were satisfying. The news came a few days later that corpers posted to places like Makurdi, Gboko, and a few others enjoyed constant distribution of light. Many corpers in different LG attested to the welcoming nature of residents in their place of primary assignment and of course the affordability of food items. With their testimonies, I wished to go back there to serve but I’d already relocated to Lagos.
I know I would travel there one day, this time to enjoy and tour the state properly, not out of duty but curiosity and knowledge. I cannot exactly give a detailed review of my stay in Benue because it was short and less toured. But I can assure you, you would love the place if you go to the right places. Hopefully, the insecurity of this nation would be controlled so we all can explore the different places of our nation.


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