The Kogi Sector Command of Federal Road Safety Commission on Tuesday confirmed the death of a former President of ASUU, Prof. Festus Iyayi in a road crash in Lokoja.
Iyayi was travelling to Kano for the NEC meeting of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) scheduled for Wednesday when the accident occurred at about 11:45 a.m., union officials said.
The state Commander of FRSC, Olakunle Motajo, who made the confirmation, described the accident as unfortunate.
He said the accident involved the a Toyota Hilux in the motorcade of Gov. Idris Wada of Kogi and a Toyota Hiace bus belonging to the UNIBEN ASUU chapter.
Iyayi was in the union bus with two others, including a woman, who sustained fracture in her left arm, while the other had bruises but the driver escaped unhurt, Motajo said.
The corpse of Iyayi has been deposited at Kogi State Specialist Hospital in Lokoja where other injured victims were also being treated, he said.
The FRSC Sector Commander said that a preliminary report on the accident revealed wrongful overtaking on the part of the government vehicle.
The governor who was returning from Abuja, later visited the emergency ward of the hospital to commiserate with the victims.
He was also at the hospital mortuary to the see the dead body and directed the management of the hospital to give the victims the best of care.
Some ASUU members were also seen around the emergency ward but refused to talk on the accident.
Some residents of Banda community, who witnessed the accident, told NAN that the two vehicles collided and the ASUU bus somersaulted three times before hitting a big tree in the bush.
Seven policemen in the vehicle in the motorcade also sustained injuries and are receiving treatment at the Government House Clinic in Lokoja.
Meanwhile, Gov Idris has ordered a full investigation into the accident.
The governor in a statement in Lokoja expressed sadness over the death of Iyayi and sympathised with those injured and their families.
The statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Jacob Edi, claimed that the “governor’s convoy was on a speed of 80km per hour when a bus collided with the escort van.”
Born in 1947, Iyayi attended Annunciation Catholic College and Government Ughelli, Delta.
He obtained an MSc in Industrial Economics from Kiev Institute of Economics and a PhD from Bradford University, England.
The President of ASUU, Dr Nasir Fagge, said “the sad news was broken to the union in the morning of Nov. 12.’’
“I cannot say anything right now. We have just lost one of our own, Festus Iyayi, who was very dear to us. I am mourning.’’
The immediate past President of the union, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, said the news came to him as a rude shock and was still in doubt if it was true.
Prof. Ahunna Okerengwo, the Chairman, University of Port-Harcourt chapter of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), says the death of Prof. Festus Iyayi on Tuesday was shocking.
When contacted on phone, Okerengwo said that she was on her way to Kano for a meeting concerning the ASUU strike and was still shocked by the news.
Prof. Damian Opata, the Head, Department of English, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, also described Iyayi’s death as unfortunate. “It is very sad coming at this time,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday commiserated with the leadership and members of ASUU on the tragic death of Iyayi.
The President recalled that Iyayi rose to national prominence in the 1980s with his courageous leadership of ASUU and struggle for a better working environment for teachers and academics in the nation’s university system.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant, Media to the president, Dr. Reuben Abati, it said the president “is particularly dismayed by the fact that Iyayi has sadly lost his life while going to contribute to efforts to finally resolve the current ASUU strike.’’