BusinessDay

Campus business owners lament prolonged ASUU strike

Oyenusi Peter, a 30-year-old family man, was able to conveniently provide basic needs for his family before the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on a one-month warning strike on February 14.

Eight months later, Oyenusi, who runs a business centre providing services like photocopy, printing and registration business at the University of Abuja, is struggling to feed his family as the strike has lasted for over seven months.

“Before the strike, I made money every day and I relied on the business to fend for my family; now it is so difficult to feed because nobody is doing photocopy or printing where I live and my machines are in my shop too,” he lamented.

Nigeria has 49 accredited federal universities, all of which, including state universities, are on strike.

Oyenusi is one of many entrepreneurs with businesses on campuses across the countries who are suffering as a result of the ongoing industrial action.

Business activities such as printing, photocopying, restaurants, hairdressing, and transport services have been paralysed in universities.

With most of their customers as students, businesses around the universities are also bearing the brunt as they suffer a sharp decline in sales.

“Out of 12 months, my shop has been closed for eight months, and my rent of N300,000 is due soon,” Anna told BusinessDay.

Anna runs a beauty shop at the University of Lagos, but she has only been going to the shop to clean up the place and is making plans to move permanently to another location.

“The school is almost empty but some of my customers call me for home service, and that is my consolation, but it is nothing like going to the shop and making my ‘daily 2K’,” she said.

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“Payment for the shop costs approximately N35,000 and this is inclusive of waste management but we rent it from the school officials for as high as N300,000, and it is unfair,” she said.

Some students of the universities who also double as entrepreneurs to fend for themselves are suffering both academically and economically.

Some of the service providers have been forced to move to another location temporarily to continue operations such as transport providers and some others that have perishable items in stock.

The entrepreneurs remain troubled as the tussle between the federal government and ASUU rages on, showing no sign of being resolved soon.

The union commenced the strike action after the federal government failed to meet some of its demands, including the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution.

Although the National Industrial Court has ordered all striking lecturers to resume, ASUU has filed 14 grounds of appeal to challenge the order.

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