SaharaReporters says it has confirmed that Festus Iyayi, a well-known Nigerian novelist and activist academic, was killed when a car in the convoy of the Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada, rammed into his vehicle near Lokoja in Kogi State.
A police source as well as an eyewitness told SaharaReporters that Mr. Iyayi died instantly at the scene of the ghastly accident. Mr. Iyayi was on his way to Kano to attend a meeting of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) whose members have been on strike since July. The union’s meeting in Kano was called to decide on a possible calling off of the strike and a return to teaching.
With yesterday's accident, Governor Idris has further consolidated his reputation as having one of the most reckless convoys in Nigeria where drivers attached to governors and other top officials are known for driving dangerously. In late December 2012, Governor Idris’s convoy was also involved in a deadly accident that claimed the life of his aide de camp. Mr. Idris was hospitalized in a hospital in Abuja where he was treated for serious injuries.
In a brief telephone conversation yesterday, Kogi’s Deputy Governor, Yomi Awoniyi, confirmed that the governor’s convoy was involved in an accident. But Mr. Awoniyi said he had not obtained the details of how the accident happened, telling a Sahara Reporters correspondent that he was away in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom State, on official duty.
In the early and mid-1980s, Mr. Iyayi broke out of the confines of his academic discipline and emerged as one of Nigeria’s most radical writers with such novels as Heroes, Violence, and The Contract.
Mr. Iyayi studied economics and business management in the old Soviet Union as well as in the UK, and became a career-long professor of business at the University of Benin (UNIBEN).
A fearless, outspoken member of ASUU, he was at one time a leader of the union’s chapter at UNIBEN before becoming the group’s national leader in 1986 during the dictatorship of General Ibrahim Babangida. In the early 90s he was elected as the President of the Committee for the Defence of Human rights (CDHR).
His death will be seen as the biggest individual casualty of ASUU’s prolonged strike as well as the history of accidents caused by the deranged driving by convoys traveling with Nigerian state governors.
ASUU President Nasir Fagge has already confirmed the death, saying the sad news was broken to the union yesterday.