Three weeks into the school’s closure, students and traders on
campus count their losses.
On a typical school day, the Mohammed Maccido way in the
University of Abuja permanent site, is always a beehive of
activities. Apart from hosting the school’s only market, it is just a
stone throw from the prestigious Senate building which is
understandably a centre of attraction and meeting for different
stakeholders- students, lecturers, visitors and school staff. The
market has over the years served as a source of livelihood for
many who come from as far as Zuba, Giri and even Gwagwalada.
But three weeks into the closure of the school after a massive
protest by students has left many of these traders ina lurch with
many now seeking alternative means of livelihood.
The school was closed down by the authorities following a protest
by students in late November. Soldiers were called in then to send
recalcitrant students who refused to vacate the campus. For now
no one knows when the campus would be re opened for
academic activities. The students are protesting the failure of the
school administration to meet up with the deadline given to it by
the education ministry to accredit three programs- medicine,
agriculture and veterinary medicine. While the school authorities
are saying they are doing all they can to get the programs running
normally, the students mainly from the affected departments, say
their patience is fast running out. The subsequent closure has not
only affected academic activities but sounded the death knell for
commercial activities also, especially for those that get their daily
bread from such activities on campus. A cross section of these
traders, some who still mill around the vast premises in hopes of
a speedy settlement of the crisis, say the brief closure is telling
negatively on their fortunes.
Sani Abdulazeez, who sells refreshment at the school’s market,
says that many of the traders have relocated temporarily to
nearby enclaves to look for alternative selling point since the
commencement of the present crisis. ‘When two elephants
engage in a fight, they are not the only ones that bear the brunt of
the crisis. The poor grass suffers more. Many of us depend on
sales we are able to get from these students since they form the
greater part of our patronage. But as you can see now for
yourself everywhere is quiet, so who will buy from you.
We are praying that the crisis be resolved soon. This year is
already gone so we are hoping it would be resolved as early as
possible next year,’ he enthuses somewhat dismally.
An elderly trader, Obiora is seen calmly listening to a transistor
radio at the market. Besides him are empty stalls and trading
points with no human presence. ‘I am just keeping myself busy
since there is nobody around now. It is not easy without these
students. They are the sole reason people are here for business.
The crisis had better be resolved quickly so that people will not go
hungry and be led into anti social activities.
Tessy Ogiadome a student taking sandwich courses at the
school’s permanent site, says the crisis affects not only traders but
the students themselves. “No student wants to spend any extra
time for any given course. Also many of us are from average
families and having to spend needless time for studying has
financial implications that most of us can hardly bear. The earlier
the crisis is resolved the better for everyone concerned. Imagine a
student having to support himself or herself all through this forced
break and then running around for more money when the school
is reopened. It is unfortunate.
Another student who would not give his name urges the
authorities to put their acts together in the interest of the students.
“The crisis has gone on for far too long, and it is not fair for us
students, since we have to pay the price for the unseriousness of
those charged with the proper administration of the school. How
long will we continue to suffers?’
At present investigations reveal that the ministry of education is
hampered from wading into the crisis, as it is still yet to deliberate
on the white paper of the committee set up by it to look into the
problems militating against the school and possible solutions.
Meanwhile, for traders like Obiora and Sani the waiting game
continues, even as they pray for the speedy settlement of all
issues contributing to the stalemate. ‘The students are the life wire
of the campus, without them we won’t be here, says a dismal