President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed sadness over the death of Prof. Iyayi, saying his death was painful because it came at a time that he (Iyayi) was going to contribute to the resolution of the prolonged ASUU crisis.
Former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Festus Iyayi of the University of Benin died in a motor accident when a car belonging to the convoy of the Kogi State governor rammed into the vehicle he was being conveyed in along the Lokoja-Abuja expressway.
An eyewitness told the Vanguard that the rear vehicle in the governor’s convoy, apparently coming from Abuja, pulled out to overtake the other vehicles in the convoy and in the process collided with the ASUU bus coming from the Lokoja end of the road. According to the witness, the vehicle conveying the late professor steered off the road, and somersaulted three times before hitting a tree, killing Professor Iyayi instantly and injuring the two others.
In a message delivered by Rueben Abati, Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, president Jonathan described Iyayi as a ‘renowned academic and award-winning writer who 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’.
“On behalf of himself and the Federal Government, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan commiserates with the leadership and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the tragic death today (yesterday) of former ASUU President, Dr. Festus Iyayi.
“President Jonathan also extends sincere condolences to Dr. Iyayi’s family as well as his colleagues, friends and associates across the country and beyond.
“The President joins them in mourning the renowned academic and award-winning writer who 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.
“He is particularly dismayed by the fact that Dr. Iyayi has sadly lost his life while going to contribute to efforts to finally resolve the current ASUU strike which has unfortunately disrupted academics in most of the nation’s universities for over four months.
“President Jonathan prays that God Almighty will comfort all who mourn Dr. Iyayi and grant his soul eternal rest”.
Tributes have also poured in from Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Vice-president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu and Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan,
The academic is survived by a wife, Grace and four children.