by Collins Uma
There are Nigerians in their tens of thousands in the different campuses across the country who depend on the business activities within the campuses for their livelihood. From the hair salon owner to the food sellers to the transporters, their is an entire ecosystem within the school environment that gets disrupted whenever ASUU decides to keep academic activities shut down like this.
Rose looks into the mirror and, for the umpteenth time, wonders how much longer before she goes to relax her hair. Her savings dried up since August, a little over a month after the ASUU strike commenced. She works as a photocopying machine operator in Benue State University campus and has been hoping the strike would be called off so she could go back to earning some money. She owes her friends so much money already. Jobs are nowhere. She may just have to go chill at the well patronized bar down the street later in the evening. Someone might be willing to pay for her company. You never know.
Oga Isaac turns his transistor radio off as the FM station starts playing some Christmas carols. The songs bring anything but joy to him. He had used borrowed money from his bank last year to complete two blocks of single room apartments he had built opposite the university gate. Some of the loan had been repaid with the initial rent he collected from the students who had moved into the rooms. Their rent was due in September but ASUU has decided that the students should stay away. There are 10 rooms in all at N75,000 each. That is N750,000 he doesn’t know when he will get. Even if he is able to make his bank understand the situation, will his six children understand why they will not be getting new clothes like their friends this Christmas or why they might have nothing to eat?
Its barely two weeks after Rashidat’s wedding and instead of settling down to enjoy the marriage she is preparing to go to the Police station where her friend, or former friend as she likes to think of it, Hussaina, had reported a matter against her. Before the wedding, Hussaina had supplied Rashidat yards of wrapper she needed for Aso Ebi for her forthcoming wedding. Hussaina agreed to be paid latest on the wedding day when all Rashidat’s friends who collected the Aso Ebi would have paid up. That was in June. Hussaina was yet to get her money in November. Rashidat’s defence is that her friends, mostly her course mates at Kogi State University, who collected the clothes were yet to pay up. They did not even attend the wedding due to the lingering ASUU strike that has kept all of them away. How she is going to get Rashidat’s money is one source of a very huge headache right now. Her young marriage is already getting strained. Her new husband doesn’t want to have anything to do with a police case. If not for the stupid ASUU strike this wouldn’t be happening, she always told herself.
Attah’s PhD programme will commence this November in the UK. He has already delayed it by one year so he is not ready to delay it further. His students will suffer, however, if he leaves now. He has ten students whose final year projects he is supervising and he was supposed to have finished with that since September but the ASUU strike that has been on since July has made it impossible. He was scheduled to leave in October but he didn’t. In three days he will be out of Nigeria. The students and the faculty will just have to find a way to sort themselves out. Its not his fault ASUU has chosen not to call the strike off, is it?
These are just a few of the scenarios that abound all over the nation as a result of the ASUU strike. More people than the students are being affected. There are Nigerians in their tens of thousands in the different campuses across the country who depend on the business activities within the campuses for their livelihood. From the hair salon owner to the food sellers to the transporters, their is an entire ecosystem within the school environment that gets disrupted whenever ASUU decides to keep academic activities shut down like this. The internally generated revenue lost, the bands of young ‘hustlers’ unleashed on the streets, the level of insecurity and other social vices that get heightened, the increased level of poverty among tens of thousands of Nigerians. There is so much wrong with a strike like this. Except that this is not as important as the 2009 agreement between ASUU and the federal government, is it?
Collins Uma is a trained Sociologist with a bias for Developmental Sociology. He is a public affairs analyst and commentator. He is also a husband and father and an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Collins Uma tweets via @CollinsUma
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.