By Tosin Ologun
With her head resting on her palm, Dorcas Daramola gave a long sigh and embraced her 9-year-old daughter that just came back from school. She had been struggling to recover from the losses incurred during the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic outbreak and the lingering ASUU strike.
For Nigerian students in public universities, the effect of the Academic Staff Union Universities’ incessant strike is that business owners whose business activities are situated in school environments are beginning to turn into shambles.
Dorcas Daramola, a shop owner at the University of Ibadan, laments how the strike has affected her enterprise. The Academic Staff Union of Universities show no mercy when it decided to embark on a warning strike on February 14, a day which is widely commemorated as lovers day was maimed by ASUU, students in their finals, who have a dream of graduating and serving their father’s land this year have been literally told to sleep, and have another dream.
Frustration is boldly written like a tribal mark on Dorcas’s face as she expressed her notions of how the long ASUU strike is affecting the livelihood of her family. She said, “The ASUU strike has affected me a lot and I am yet to recover from the debts I owed after the ASUU strike and Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. I thought the warning strike would not last for long, but unfortunately, here we are” things are falling apart.
“Most of my goods have an expiry date, and if I don’t sell these goods within the required timing, I would be left with the option of disposing of them when it gets spoiled. So, what I do is giving out to retailers who are not on campus to help me sell at a very cheap rate just for me to get some money out of the goods,” she said.
A food vendor at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nicholas Adeyanju also lamented saying that whatever affects the students also affects people that provide goods and services for students on campuses. “Normal academic break is not always friendly even when it’s a short break, not to talk about a break that lasts for months. So, the ASUU strike is an unwanted halt for anyone that sells goods.
“We urge the Federal Government and ASUU to reach an agreement and call off the strike for our customers, which are students. This will enable us to grow the economy even in our little ways.” He said. A branding expert, Ayobami Odugbemi, in an interview with this reporter, said her business thrives more when the academic calendar of the institution is smooth.
According to her, Ayobami revealed that she had to let go of her workers because she cannot afford to pay them and that she cannot even keep them with her without giving them payment at month ends. He added, “The ASUU strike has affected my business badly. Before the ASUU strike, I know how much I make from my business. The money I make now is just for me to survive the main time.”
History of ASUU
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was established in 1978 to succeed the former Nigerian Association of Universities (NAUT). The birth of the Union occurred simultaneously with the military era of oppression that prompted the union into being fretful about national matters.
ASUU, from its birth, channeled its confrontations around the survival of the Nigerian University system under three main paths: salary and non-salary conditions; university autonomy; and the defense of the right to education. To this present moment, ASUU requests from the federal government stand are not much different from what they have been agitating for over the past five decades.
The record holds that from 1999 till date, it is very hard not to experience an ASUU strike once in two years as we have it in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and now 2022.