LEADERS of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, yesterday, suspended indefinitely the union’s National Executive Council, NEC, meeting planned to hold in Kano over the tragic auto-crash that claimed the life of ASUU former President, Professor Festus Iyayi, on Tuesday morning.
Thousands of students who had kept vigil, waiting for the outcome of ASUU NEC meeting, therefore went home disappointed following the announcement of the suspension of the meeting.
|Late Professor Iyayi|
President of ASUU, Dr. Nasir Fagge, who announced the suspension of the NEC meeting in Kano, explained that the union had to suspend the meeting following the sudden and tragic death of Professor Festus Iyayi.
The NEC meeting was widely expected to make a decisive statement on the five-month old ASUU strike that has crippled academic activities in the public university system.
At a briefing, Fagge told reporters in Kano that “we are compelled to postpone this meeting in the light of the sudden death of one of our strongest pillars who died yesterday (Tuesday).
“As you can see for yourself, we are mourning the departure of this great scholar and you would agree with me that in this circumstance we cannot look at issues objectively.”
The ASUU President who looked visibly shocked by the unfortunate development, described Iyayi “as a strong pillar of the union,’ stressing that “this is a great loss to the entire country.”
Over 50 universities were represented at the botched Kano NEC meeting which was to deliberate on the outcome of the branch meetings held recently that was key to the decision on suspension of the strike.
No new date has been fixed for the NEC meeting.
However, labour watchers are of the opinion that ASUU may not reschedule the NEC meeting until after the burial of the late professor.
Thousands of students that had kept vigil waiting for the outcome went home disappointed following the announcement of the suspension of the NEC meeting.
A student who spoke with Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said, “this is a clear indication that we have more days to spend at home because the figure that passed on was an icon and a respected voice.”
He expressed disappointment that the Federal Government had not arrested those that caused the fatal accident, stressing that “the only thing that can cool frayed nerves is to put on trial all those that played infamous roles in the accident.”
Meantime, more Nigerians have continued to mourn late Professor Festus Iyayi, former President of ASUU, who died Tuesday.
Reacting to the unfortunate incident, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and Joint Action Front, JAF, among others, described him as a true and committed Nigerian who gave up his personal comfort and joined the masses in the trenches in the fight for a better society.
Governor Oshiomhole in a condolence message through his Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Mr. Peter Okhiria, said: “Iyayi was a distinguished Nigerian who served not only ASUU, but the whole Nigerian academic community. He had a passion for education and I am proud that he came from Edo State. I found him so resourceful that I appointed him a member of the Governing Council of the Ambrose Alli University.
On its part, NLC in a statement by its President, Abdulwaheed Omar, blamed his death 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.”
On his part, Chief Emeka Wogu, who described his death as shocking and a colossal loss to the trade union movement in Nigeria, lamented Iyayi died at a time when his struggle for improving the standards of education in Nigeria was about yielding positive results in the country.
His words: “I received with shock the sudden death of the former President of ASUU, Professor Festus Iyayi in a fatal motor accident on Lokoja Abuja Expressway. I share in the pains and identify with ASUU and the family of the deceased in this moment of grief.”
JAF, in a statement by its Secretary, Abiodun Aremu, while describing his death as a monumental tragedy inflicted on the working and oppressed people in Nigeria, said: “Indeed, this is a tragic loss for Comrade Professor Festus Iyayi to have been wasted by the Kogi State Governor’s reckless convoy on November 12, 2013.”
Also, Bamidele Aturu, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, said Africa and indeed, the “world, has lost one of the most passionate believers in social justice and equity. He was one of the most honest and dependable ally. We have lost a dogged advocate of decency and consummate teacher. It is indeed an irony that a man who spent his entire life campaigning against impunity should be murdered so recklessly.
Iyayi’s death regrettable — Amosun
Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, also expressed profound shock and regret at the death of former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Prof. Festus Iyayi who died at the age of 66.
The governor condoled with the government and people of Edo State, ASUU and the academic community over the death of the late lecturer, writer and dogged fighter for academic and social reforms.
In a press release by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mrs. Funmi Wakama, Amosun recalled the late professor’s struggle in the education sector as ASUU president in 1986 which led to his incarceration in 1988, describing his death as unfortunate.
He said: “The late professor profoundly influenced progressive policies in the nation’s education sector and he will forever be remembered for his selfless service towards resolving the on-going ASUU/government face off. Indeed, the country has lost another brilliant mind and true patriot.”