Raibiu Abdulahi, a businessman in his 30s is sitting on a stool, eagerly beckoning passersby with the hope of getting patronage.
He has waited for hours, hoping and believing that a customer will walk towards his shop but luck seemed not to be smiling at him.
“Walahi, na like this I dey do everyday o! Market e no dey at all. I get am for wife, I get pikin, dem go chop… Walahi, me I don tire,” he lamented as he described how his business has been since the industrial action of ASUU.,
On the 14th of February, 2022, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on strike, demanding among other things, the revitalization of universities, the deployment of UTAS to replace IPPIS, and the implementation of the 2009 renegotiated agreement that features its members’ conditions of service.
Due to the failure to reach an agreement with the government, the union further resorted to a total and indefinite strike on the 29th of August, 2022. Asides from the students who are mainly affected, several businesses that depend on students’ patronage have closed up and the few left are now running into losses.
Low sales hits traders
Business owners in Oye-Ekiti, the host community of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) greatly rely on the student populace for their income. From food, transportation, and accommodation, the revenue generated is what most of these entrepreneurs use to cater for their families and daily needs. However, things have fallen into an improper fraction ever since the students have been abruptly sent home.
Edith Agu is the wife of a lecturer who operates a provision store at Oye market. Before the strike began, she would restock her shop three times a month. But now, she only manages to do that once a month.
Mrs. Agu’s provision store PC: Sunday Awosoro
“Annoying! Very, very annoying. No customer. The indigenes are more interested in buying vegetables. They are not ready to drink tea,” she lamented.
Since her husband has not been paid for months, her family has been surviving on her low-income goods. “We have only been living by faith.”
Unlike Mrs. Agu, Idowu Olamide repairs smartphones and laptops in Oye-Ekiti. At his workshop, he also sells gadget accessories. For him, the ASUU strike came as a “doom”.
Before this strike, Mr. Olamide will switch on his generator, working from seven to 9:00 PM everyday. “Now, I even barely on my generator for one hour in a day. I’m a man that has responsibilities to carry but there are no customers,” he grumbled.
Mr. Olamide walks into his workshop PC: Sunday Awosoro.
Transport Workers Also Raise Concern
As traders in Oye Ekiti battle with the side effects of the strike, transport workers are also not left behind. At the moment, some drivers of minibusses popularly called ‘Korope’ who usually commute the students around Oye-Ekiti have been forced to start farming. According to Jide Olayiwola, a cab driver, “a few of them have changed locations”.
The situation appears depressing for Audu Sunday. He is a commercial motorcyclist who works with a hire purchase motorcycle.
“I used to make at least seven thousand naira in a day. But now, when I make two thousand naira, I always thank God”.
Before now, Mr. Sunday delivers fifteen thousand naira every week. But fortunately for him, his boss has reduced it to ten thousand naira.
Shops are closing up, and Goods are getting Expired
What Mr. Abdulhai sells is perishable. Many times, his fruits have stayed longer than expected, leading to complete loss.
Some shop owners have stopped opening
Other traders like Mrs. Agu whose goods have gotten worse due to slow sales have stopped opening their shops.
A locked restaurant
Currently, some business owners are relocating, looking for greener pastures as the ASUU strike still has no end in sight.