I was asked why there was a protest in my school and my response was “Well, the students just realized food is too expensive down here and guys can’t afford to eat well”, but just then the irony of the situation hit me, we are protesting that we can’t eat well and now for the sake of the protest we can’t eat at all.
The word churning out from the very reliable gossip mill is that the President of the Law Students Society, Seun Lari- Williams (who for the sake of this article we shall just refer to as SLW) on Sunday tried to purchase indomie noodles (hungry man’s size) and was told adamantly by the sales girl that it was 110naira as opposed to the 100 naira he had stipulated in his budget for the item. Of course, naturally, this jumbo humongous increment to the price and the indolent attitude of the sales girl incensed the charismatic president and he resolved to deal with the hardened criminals who attempted to pilfer his hard earned money!! One thing led to another and what started as an altercation between a salesgirl and a president spread and became an issue of national importance within the four walls of the Federal Republic of Unilag. So far, every shop where weary, hungry and famished students usually run to to seek solace and refreshment in the comfort of their food has been closed down and there has been a drastic fall in the number of take away packs piling in waste bins all over the school, from King Jaja Hall to Queen Amina Hall. This of course has caused some to wonder if the protest is at all worth it, or if the president should have just bought the noodles even if on credit and eaten it in peace so we can all get on with our lives, lives that were going on pretty fine even with the exorbitant extra 5 naira charged for pure water or the occasional extra 10 naira for indomie noodles.
Some people have also argued that the protest has not been entirely fair to the food vendors as they are also pawns in the chessboard of extortion that SLW seems to think that we are living in. This argument, they chalk down to the huge sums these vendors have to pay for their stands and the buildings they use as shops, it is said (again from our hard working rumour mill) that our beloved ‘Shop10’ is charged 90,000 naira per month by the school authorities. They have offered that in seeking an end to this extortionist game we should address the problem from the source, checkmate their very king.
However, kudos must be given to SLW for he is indeed a voice and not as some would like to present, SLY. For too long have we had to pay above student prices for essential goods, maybe due to the fact that we do not have an SUG in Unilag. Due to the padlocked condition of the shops in school, I went to see a friend in LUTH (of course in the hope of free food), but when the time came, to my great astonishment, she bought rice and turkey in a take away pack for 200naira! My mouth hung open and then to further seal my awe she bought a bottle of Fanta for 50naira! 50! When last have I seen that?! This experience opened even my Thomasic eye to the pertinence, graveness and utmost importance of the issue SLW inspired and how we have been so blinded to the true ridiculousness of our situation! To those who say we should protest against the school authorities themselves, I do not think we have enough locus standi as far as that matter goes (in other words the school might ask ‘oya which wan kon be your own inside?’) Hence we can only pressurise the vendors themselves and leave it to the vendors and the school (who would of course be pushing for a quick solution) to renegotiate their terms so as to allow them reduce the prices. So let us declare in one voice No to high prices and Yes!!! to 300naira chicken and chips!
Finally, I must add that it is the words and not the loudness of our voices that matter because “it is the rain that makes plants grow, not the thunder!” (This is to those who ravaged the food of those poor women at various shops).
This Reflecting yet timely piece is written by JONES AYUWO