A former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Festus Iyayi, is dead, union officials said.
Witnesses said Mr. Iyayi, 66, died along the the Lokoja-Abuja highway in an accident involving the the convoy of Kogi state Governor, Idris Wada.
The late university teacher was among ASUU leaders who met with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja last week to deliberate on how to end the four-month strike by lecturers.
Mr. Iyayi is believed to be travelling to Kano for Wednesday’s National Executive Committee meeting where a vote is likely to be taken on whether the ongoing strike should be called off.
One of the pilot cars in the governor’s convoy reportedly rammed into the vehicle in which Mr. Iyayi and other activists were travelling, killing him instantly, witnesses said.
But the Special Adviser to the Governor, Jacob Edi, said it was untrue that it was the governor’s pilot vehicle that hit Mr. Iyayi’s car.
“There was a collision on a narrow road and it is too early to say who rammed into who,” Mr. Edi told PREMIUM TIMES. “The ASUU car was dodging a trailer and an accident occurred. It is not fair to politicise this incident.”
Mr. Edi said as soon as the accident happened, the governor directed that the ambulance in the convoy be used to convey the victims to the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja.
Some of the victims, he said, were also taken to the Government House Clinic.
The Kogi governor’s spokesperson said the governor later visited the hospitals to sympathize with the victims of the accident.
He dismissed suggestions that the accident happened because of overspeeding by his boss’ convoy, saying Mr. Wada’s convoy travels at 80 km per hour.
This is the second time Mr. Wada’s convoy would be involved in deadly accident in less than a year.
On December 28, 2012, the governor’s motorcade was involved in a crash that the auto crash that broke Mr. Wada’s leg, killed his security aide and injured two other state officials.
Below is Mr. Iyayi’s brief biography as published by Wikipedia.
Iyayi was born in Edo state, Nigeria. His family lived on little means but instilled in him strong moral lessons about life. Iyayi started his education at Annuciation Catholic College in the old Bendel state popularly known as ACC finishing in 1966. In 1967 he went to Government College Ughelli, graduating in 1968. In that same year he was a zonal winner in a Kennedy Essay Competition organised by the United States Embassy in Nigeria.
He left the shores of Nigeria to pursue his higher education, obtaining a M.Sc in Industrial Economics from the Kiev Institute of Economics, in the former USSR and then his Ph.D from the University of Bradford, England. In 1980, he went back to Benin and became a lecturer in the Department of Business Administration at the University of Benin.
As a member of staff of the University, he became interested in radical social issues, and a few years after his employment, he became the president of the local branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), a radical union known for its upfront style on academic and social welfare. He rose to the position of president of the national organization in 1986, but in 1988, the union was briefly banned and Iyayi was detained. In that same year, he won the Commonwealth Prize for Literature for his book “Heroes”. He was later removed from his faculty position. Today, Iyayi is a member of different Nigerian literary organizations and works in the private sector as a consultant.
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