The NLC condemned the state of the Abuja-Lokoja road.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Wednesday said it may be compelled to drag the Federal and Kogi State governments before the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, if they fail to take full responsibility for the death of the former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Festus Iyayi. Mr. Iyayi died in an accident allegedly caused by a vehicle on the Kogi State governor’s convoy.
The senior lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of Benin, died on Tuesday along Lokoja-Abuja road while on his way to Kano to attend a meeting of the ASUU National Executive Council, NEC, as part of efforts to find solution to the ongoing strike by university lecturers.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Chris Uyott, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that though the NLC President, Abdulwahed Omar, had earlier demanded that the Federal and Kogi State governments be held accountable for the death of the eminent scholar, the Congress may petition the NHRC to ensure that he did not die in vain.
In his remarks, The NLC President, who described Mr. Iyayi’s demise as “painful and tragic”, said his death was not only a blow to ASUU and the NLC, but a blow to the entire country to which he committed his entire life.
“He was a great scholar, who bestrode virtually all the disciplines like a colossus,” he said, adding that though he was a Management Science Scholar, Mr. Iyayi was remarkable in his reputation a novelist and literary icon, whose works were a standard read for literary students in universities across the world.
“Iyayi was a leading authority in Industrial Relations and an activist to the core, often deploying his prodigious energy and intellectual prowess to the cause. As President of the Academic Staff Union in 1986, he set the tone and pace of ASUU protests, in spite of the overbearing military government. It certainly must be in appreciation of this that the executive of ASUU, had always thought if fit to
involve him in negotiations,” Mr. Omar said.
He said the deceased’s passion for activism knew no bounds, noting in particular the years of his sabbatical with the Congress when he impacted positively on the activities of the labour body.
“Iyayi’s death leaves a sour taste in the mouth and is totally avoidable. It is blamable on federal government’s act of criminal negligence on the one hand and executive lawlessness/impunity on the part of the Kogi State Governor who is fast acquiring for himself an accident-prone reputation,” he said.
The Lokoja-Abuja stretch of road, which he pointed out was one of the busiest in the country, had suffered neglect by the Federal and Kogi State governments, as the contract for its dualisation awarded about ten years ago to ease vehicular movement and reduce accidents on the road is yet to be completed, and has caused several accidents.
Mr. Omar said the NLC was of the view that there was no justification for abandoning the road, stating the government must be ready to let Nigerians know the facts of the contract.
Government, he warned, would be doing very little to help itself if it shielded, rather than prosecute the criminals responsible for the non-completion of the road. He urged “all siren-blowing and terror-dealing convoys to exercise utmost caution as well as have regard for other road users.”
He also urged the National Assembly to criminalise fatal road crashes as part of the process of bringing accountability to road use.
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