My second conference was a little funny and I must confess that it was not what I expected that it turned out to be. Being an entrepreneur in a student environment where there are no hostels could make your activities very unpredictable even to you. A number times I have noticed some petty traders almost panicking because the students are going to be on vacation for some time. They come to you asking questions like, “When is the school resuming?” You could easily tell that some of them were too old to have children who are still in the university. It was so obvious it was their businesses that warranted such questions.
One day I got into the shoes of these traders because I really felt what they must have been going through for years! I had publicized a meeting and I had started selling tickets to the people who were going to come. Every typical student has so much on the priority list and sometimes you have the kind of priorities that make you forget the definition of priorities. For this reason some of the people did not buy the tickets right away. They promised they were going to buy the tickets a day to and some promised they were going to buy at the venue. I gave tickets to some other people in some areas because I wanted the sales to be easier and also faster.
The sales weren’t any faster. It just went on at snail speed and it took some extra effort to sell the ones I sold. I was communicating with the guys selling the tickets and at the same time communicating with the guys working to put the venue in order. I also needed to keep in touch with my speakers and still prepare my own notes. What went wrong! Some days to the meeting I noticed a lot of people were speculating trouble. It was almost exactly a year after a terrible crisis in the university campus and some of the tale bearers had fallaciously, I believe, said that they have noticed there was always a problem in the university in June of every year. The news spread like wide fire and by the middle of the month nearly everyone had traveled. My programme had been scheduled to hold on the 16th day in June 2006 and that coincidentally was the speculated date for trouble.
Some people traveled with my tickets and a number of the people who promised to pick up tickets that traveled. My guest speakers showed up but only 21 people showed up as against the attendance of more than 100 for my first conference. Here’s the implication. The chairs rented were supposed to be paid for through the toll for every participant. The sound system was rented and must be paid for. The money realized from those who showed up only catered for transportation of the guest speaker, refreshment and then we were left with bills to pay again. No body had speculated crisis some weeks before! Even when it started a few days to 16th of June it was like a rumour. Nothing eventually happened but that had already put me in trouble again. Some months later I realized that one of the people who was supposed to have assisted with selling tickets had kept the tickets under her mattress. The handbills given to her were almost intact under her mattress and I taught I had someone assisting! To a great extent it was my main speaker that bailed me out. I did not give him honourarium but I gave him all the honour I could so when he heard some of the things that had happened he issued a cheque of ten thousand naira (N10, 000) which went a long way in solving the problems. My allowances sorted the rest.
… to be continued.