Professor Iyayi Killed by Kogi Governor’s Convoy

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Tragedy struck Tuersday when the former
President of Academic Staff Union of
Universities (ASUU), Professor Festus Iyayi, was
killed in a ghastly motor accident.
The former ASUU president was said to be on
his way to Kano with three other members of
ASUU, University of Benin chapter, when the
vehicle they were travelling in was hit by a
police escort vehicle in the convoy of the Kogi
State Governor, Capt. Idris Wada, around
Lokoja, the state capital.
Following the impact, the vehicle was knocked
off the road and somersaulted three times,
killing the professor of Business Administration
instantly.
The unfortunate incident happened at Banda
village yesterday when the governor was
returning from an official engagement in the
Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
In a statement by Jacob Edi, Special Adviser to
the Governor, Media, the Kogi State
Government said the convoy was moving at 80
kilometers per hour when a bus collided with
the escort vehicle.
The condition of Iyayi’s three other colleagues
was also described as critical at press time
yesterday, as they were said to be in a coma.
The statement added that at least six victims
with varying degrees of injuries from both sides
are currently hospitalised,
Edi said Wada ordered a full-scale investigation
into the accident, when he paid a visit to the
injured.
An ambulance was said to have been
dispatched from Benin to Kogi State to convey
Iyayi’s body to Benin.
Iyayi was part of the ASUU negotiating team,
which met with the federal government last
week, and was travelling to Kano in
continuation of efforts to resolve the logjam
that had ensued over the strike with his
colleagues, before his death.
His death yesterday threw ASUU and the
University of Benin community into mourning.
Reacting to Iyayi’s death yesterday, President
Goodluck Jonathan commiserated with the
leadership and members of ASUU over his
tragic death.
He equally extended sincere condolences to
Iyayi’s family as well as his colleagues, friends
and associates across the country and beyond.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser,
Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the
president joined them in mourning the
renowned academic and award-winning writer.
“Iyayi rose to national prominence in the 1980s
with his courageous leadership of ASUU in its
struggle for a better working environment for
teachers and academics in the nation’s
university system,” the president observed.
Jonathan said he was particularly dismayed by
the fact that Iyayi had sadly lost his life while
going to contribute to efforts meant to finally
resolve the current ASUU strike which has
unfortunately disrupted academic studies in
most of the nation’s universities for over four
months.
Jonathan prayed for God to comfort all who
mourn Iyayi and grant his soul eternal rest.
Also, the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri
Tambuwal, condoled the Nigerian academic
community and the family of Iyayi on his tragic
death.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media
and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam,
Tambuwal described the deceased as a
respected teacher and unionist who gave his all
for the progress of the education sector.
According to the speaker, late Iyayi’s lifetime of
struggles would no doubt inspire many
upcoming lecturers and unionists to render
selfless services to their country.
While urging ASUU and the Federal Ministry of
Education to immortalise the late professor,
Tambuwal prayed to the Almighty God to give
his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable
loss.
In the same vein, organised labour yesterday
expressed shock over the death of Iyayi.
A statement by the Vice President of the Nigeria
Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, said the
Nigeria labour movement had indeed lost a
tested and committed activist of decent work in
the universities and Nigerian labour market.
The statement said Iyayi would be remembered
for the honesty, commitment and abundant
energy he brought to the struggle of working
men and women for improved working and
living conditions.
It added that the death of Iyayi was a reminder
to the federal government to urgently bring to a
permanent end the persistent crisis of funding
of public education.
“Late Festus would be remembered for the
honesty and commitment, as well as abundant
energy he brought to the struggle of working
men and women for improved working and
living conditions.
“The fact that he tragically died while
reportedly travelling for the resolution of the
four-month long strike of university lecturers
was an eloquent testimony to his life and deeds;
service to the working people and humanity!
“Fighters and comrades like comrade Festus
hardly say goodbye. In literary and metaphoric
terms, Festus is the latest major casualty of
Nigeria’s crisis of governance.
“Accidents are the norm (not exception) along
the notorious Kogi-Lokoja road which for well
over a decade remains under permanent
‘construction’ and ‘rehabilitation’ despite serial
awards of contracts by various governments,”
the NLC lamented.
In another statement on the tragedy, the
Chairman, University of Ibadan branch of
ASUU, Dr. Segun Ajiboye, who regretted the
incident, said it was a sad day for the union,
which has lost a rare gem and a great leader
with an impeccable character.
Asked if the union will still go ahead with its
planned National Executive Council (NEC)
meeting today, he said members of the union
were in deep mourning (all Nigerians should
be) and were not thinking about anything at the
moment, except the loss the past leader.
In his reaction, Prof. Friday Okonofua, of the
University of Benin, held Wada for being
responsible for Iyayi’s death.
“It is the governor of Kogi that killed him. He
was killed by a reckless convoy. He killed one
of our most distinguished academics who had
won laurels from all over the world. We would
hold the governor of Kogi responsible for his
death,” Prof. Okonofua said.

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