Business owners in Oye-Ekiti painfully await the resumption of FUOYE students whom they have described as the backbone of most businesses in the town.
Academic activities in the University were temporarily suspended as a result of the crisis that led to the death of two students. On the 10th of September this year, students of the university staged a peaceful protest that spun out of control when security personnel attached to the governor’s wife’s security detail opened fire on unarmed students.
After the incident, the institution enforced a temporary shut down and the absence of students in the town is currently crippling businesses in the town. Some business owners now make little to nothing on a daily basis.
A sales representative at a local pharmacy who identified herself as Mrs Oluwaseun decried the situation, saying she comes to work daily without expectations.
“I just sleep and wake up there’s no money outside. If students were around I know what I would have made.”
She repeated the Yoruba phrase, “Enu gbe,” which literally means ‘the mouth is dry,’ to emphasize her displeasure over the shutdown.
Mrs Akomolafe, who trades in food items, said the shutdown has made the environment very dull. She admits that sales have been very low and she barely breaks even. When asked what the consequences could be if the shutdown lingered longer she said: “Basically for people who do business because of students, they might collapse. Some people have even locked up their businesses,” adding that her business now makes 50% less of what it usually made.
Debby, a fashion designer in the area, says the impact of the shut down has been negative.
“Sales have reduced drastically,” she explained.
Like most business owners, Debby wants the students back as soon as possible.
A barber who identified himself as Kingsley says he has not been affected as such because God has him covered. He says his colleagues have been affected negatively by the absence of students but not him.
“Some of my colleagues say students make [the] market move but not to me.”
A colleague of Kingsley, Anthony who runs a barbershop in Oye has a very different tale from Kingsley’s.
“We hardly eat three times a day. We make ten times what we make now if students were around,” he laments.
To him, the effect is a chain reaction. “Bike men that cut [theiur hair] here don’t cut because there are no students to carry, so they’re also not making money.”
According to him, if students could resume as he spoke, he would be a very happy man.
Folabi Olatunde’s POS stand sustains the narrative of dwindling sales.
“We hardly have anyone to patronize us,” he says, explaining that some shops have been locked up because they have no patronage.
“Some businesses have collapsed already [and] if the shutdown continues, it will affect a lot.”
Samuel who prints, makes copies and helps students in online registration and payments says business is down. According to Samuel, 70% of his clientele are students and without them, business has not been good. He wants every issue sorted out so things can go back to business as usual.
Students have a massive influence on the economic activities in the town and their absence is starting to take its toll on businesses in Oye. The shutdown, which has lasted over a month now is making residents who own businesses very unhappy.
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