Investigation by our correspondents showed that in two institutions in Oyo and Osun States, for example, the strike has not only brought academic activities to a halt, it has also ensured that owners of small-scale businesses operating on the campuses incurred substantial financial losses.
At The Polytechnic, Ibadan, shop owners, who usually depend on the student population to make a living, are hard hit by the strike.
When one of our correspondents visited the main campus of the institution on Monday, a few shop owners who spoke with him admitted that the strike had crippled their businesses. The students and lecturers are the major customers who patronise the businesses for the typing of projects, duplication of handouts and other study materials.
An attendant in a petrol filling station situated on the campus said that sales had declined significantly since the strike started. “We are suffering as a result of the strike called by the Oyo State schools. Now that a bigger strike is ongoing, I am not so sure of our chances of recovery from the losses that we have incurred. It could go on for many weeks unless the issues leading to the action are quickly resolved,” he said, on condition of anonymity.
Our correspondent also observed that the institution was deserted as most of the students have left the campus and all the lecture rooms were locked up.
Some of the students, in separate telephone interviews with our correspondent, disclosed that they had decided to take up jobs, however lowly, and make a living in the absence of lectures and other academic activities at the institution.
One of them, Adeola Olatunji, said he had to convert his personal car to a taxi cab in order to make ends meet.
He said, “I have witnessed a long strike in the past and it affected me. I have no father or someone that can help me financially. But I have a car that can fetch me some money to live on. I converted it to a taxi for use at night. I have done it before. So, there is no shame. I even pick students who know me in the school and they still pay the fare. In two hours, I could make up to N1,500 each night. When school resumes, I will stop.”
Another student, Halirat Babalola, said the strike had given her an opportunity to hone her skill in fashion designing. So, while most of her classmates were either idling away in their homes or trying to earn a living somewhere, she decided to enrol as an apprentice at a fashion designing institute in Iseyin where her parents live.
“I hate to waste time unnecessarily. We have been at home for some weeks now. If the strike continues for a few more weeks, I would have learnt one or two basic things about dress making. It will be a dream to have a fashion designing shop apart from other job,” she said.
Commercial motorcycle operators and taxi drivers who ply the Sango-Poly route are also affected by the ASUP strike. Many of them said that they had to change their routes to adjust to the hard time occasioned by the strike.
Also, at the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, the situation was only slightly different. Most students of the institution had just taken their examinations and some non-academic workers were seen at work. But shop owners were far from doing brisk business.
Some students, obviously in their final year, were seen moving around, trying to tidy up their long essays. A student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who gave his name as Dayo Adedeji, told our correspondent that some lecturers were busy supervising final-year students assigned to them.
Adedeji said, “Most of us are fortunate to have completed our examinations before now. It would have been disastrous if the strike had started when we were still receiving lectures. We have wasted a lot of time in this school.
“We wasted 11 months due to a national strike two years ago. We also lost some time to another strike by other unions. We don’t know how long the ongoing ASUP strike will last because the Federal Government does not give polytechnics the kind of attention it gives to universities. This is quite unfortunate.”
ASUP declared an indefinite strike on Monday, November 13, after its negotiation with the Federal Government broke down. The union had wanted the government to address its demands on the provision of NEEDS assessment for federal and state polytechnics, the Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Scale N20bn and short fall in staff salaries as of December 2016, as well as non-payment of earned academic allowances.
ASUP also asked the FG to address the issue of poor funding of public polytechnics as reflected in the unimplemented capital grants, withdrawals of allowances since 2016, shortfalls in personnel allocations, lack of funding of promotion exercises and delay in review of the Federal Polytechnics Act, among others.