Thursday, 14 November 2013

Commonwealth Writers winner, Iyayi's death prolongs crisis between universities and government

As outrage is pouring in over the tragic death of a Nigerian author, Prof Festus Iyayi (1947-3013), the crisis between the country’s Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and President Goodluck Jonathan-led government may continue.
Iyayi, who was ex-president of ASSU from University of Benin (UNIBEN), Edo State, and winner of Commonwealth Writers Prize for his novel Heroes in 1988, died in an auto crash on his way to a crucial NEC meeting of the union on Tuesday after his car was involved in accident with the convoy of Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State.
Prof Festus Iyayi

The governor’s convoy has been blamed for the accident. Members of ASUU, in response were said to have prevented Wada from seeing the corpse of Iyayi and visiting the injured at a hospital, in Lokoja. The ASUU angst, according to reports was fueled by “the non-caring attitude of the governor after the accident”. ASUU, according reports, has suspended the meeting indefinitely. 

University lecturers across the country under the union have been on an indefinite strike since four months, over the state of decay in the country’s higher institutions.  A source said the earliest time the union could meet again “is January 17, 2013 and the strike continues till then”.
Born in Edo State, Iyayi started his education at Annunciation Catholic College (ACC) in the area that was later kown as Bendel State (now defunct) and completed in 1966. In 1967 he went to Government College Ughelli and graduated in 1968. In the same year he won Kennedy Essay Competition organised by the United States Embassy in Nigeria.
Iyayi traveled abroad where he got his 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 returned to Benin and became a lecturer in the Department of Business Administration at UNIBEN. As a member ASUU, he was radical unionist who got in 1988 got detained after the union was banned.

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