BY LAJU ARENYEKA
It cost about N20 to board a shuttle from one end of Lagos State University to another. On the average, a driver of a 14-seater bus could make about 20 trips per day. But since the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) began its nationwide strike on July 1, the situation has become less than average for non- academic citizens of university communities.
The state of affairs is the same at the University of Lagos; for once, the line of cabs is longer than the queue of commuters. In fact, the commuters’ queue is non-existent. ASUU is on strike, most students are at home, but the vendors still have the same mouths to feed and the same bills to pay.
Daniel Ighosunwe owns a photography studio in one of the nation’s striking varsities. It is doubtful that he has an idea of the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU, but he is affected nonetheless.
“I have another studio outside the campus, but business on campus is usually better. Since ASUU went on strike, things have been really slow around here. The students constitute our market. Without them on campus, there is no business. I sincerely hope that the strike will be called off soon.”
Kelechi Okorie and her sister own a business centre on another striking university campus. She told Quadlife: “We make photocopies, print, and sell stationery. Before the strike, we used to have a lot of customers, but now, we have just one or two per day. We don’t have any other source of income; that is why we come here every day. The strike is not just affecting the students, it’s affecting us too.”
Eleven-year-old Rufeeyat Bello helps her mum sell food on campus: “The strike is always spoiling our food.” She says; “Every day we cook, the food will not finish despite the fact that we cook just about three cups of rice compared to 16 cups we used to cook before the strike. We are just praying that they will end the strike very soon.”
No doubt, when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. But in this case, the grass is not just the students, but those who depend on the system for their livelihood.