THE decision by the Academic Staff Union of Universities to prolong its strike till May this year has started taking a toll on some segments of the society in Bauchi State.

Market women and landlords in the Yelwa axis of Bauchi metropolis, a suburban area in Bauchi, which hosts two tertiary institutions of learning-Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, ATBU, and the Federal Polytechnic,whose aggregate student population runs into thousands, are now lamenting over the loss they are incurring as a result of the forced closure of the two institutions.

With the presence of the two higher institutions of learning, there exists a large market for foodstuff and groceries as well as high demand for accommodation by students. As a result, many investors have built various types of houses to meet the housing needs of the student population that has sprung up in Yelwa. However, following the impasse in negotiations between the Federal Government and ASUU, Yelwa market women and landlords are now reeling in pains.

They told Arewa Voice that the inability of Federal Government and ASUU to resolve their issues had thrown a spoke in their wheel. Market women and landlords in student populated areas have now joined students to pray for an end to the strike as their means of livelihood now hang in the balance. A provisions dealer at the Yelwa market, Alice Ibrahim, who now depends solely on polytechnic students for patronage, said that her sales had dropped significantly since ATBU students joined the strike action.

She said: “It has not been easy at all since the university students joined the ASUU strike. If you came here two months ago, I would have found it very hard to attend to you because I would be busy attending to many customers, but see how idle I am. I have goods in the shop but no one to buy. And you know that whether I sell and make profit or not, I will still have to pay rent for this shop. I appeal to the Federal Government and ASUU to agree on something so that this strike can be called off. My son, who attends ATBU, is now at home with nothing to do. I don’t want him to mix with bad boys at home and that is why I have mandated him to join me in the shop after his breakfast so that he can be more useful to me.”

Another trader, who sells tomatoes and pepper, Illiya Saleh, lamented that since the strike action by ASUU, he has been recording losses and low income from sales of his perishables. “Honestly, I think that I am the most affected by this strike. These days, I am hardly able to sell off my tomatoes and peppers before the close of market. This is really affecting me because I end up selling them the next day for lesser amount because of their depreciated value. I have now reduced the size of commodities I purchase, but it is telling on me because the money I take home is not enough for my large family.

“Every morning these days, during our prayer time, we pray for this strike to end so that we can return to our normal lives. With this hard economy, we are still experiencing low sales. It is like getting double punishment for a crime you know nothing about. Now that they have said that they will continue the strike, I don’t know what to do,” Saleh said in disappointment.

On the part of the landlords, the story is similar. One of the landlords, Aliyu Liman, who spoke with Arewa Voice revealed that he might unwillingly have to forfeit his rent for the number of months the students are away.

According to him it is difficult to get students to pay for the period they do not occupy their apartments. “This strike action is affecting everyone. I have up to 105 rooms that I am renting out for students’ accommodation, but right now, I am thinking of the amount of money that I will lose when the students resume from their strike,” he said.

Last Sunday, the National Executive Council, NEC, of ASUU held an emergency meeting in which NEC concluded that the government has failed to satisfactorily address all the issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action, MoA, within the four-week roll-over strike period, resolved that the strike be rolled over for another eight (8) weeks.

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