Nigeria’s Minister of Information ,Mr Labaran Maku said he received with utter shock and disbelief the horrendous news of the sudden death in an auto crash of one of Nigeria’s foremost patriots and literary icons, Prof. Festus Iyayi.The Peoples Democratic Movement also expressed shock at the tragic death.
Maku in his statement said the late Prof. Iyayi was not just a scholar of first class distinction, he was far more known for his writings, particularly his two classics:Violence, and Heroes.
A Professor of Business Administration, Festus Iyayi took to writing by vocation and won the Commonwealth Prize for Literature in 1988 with his book Heroes, based on the Nigerian civil war.
“His death coming so close after the demise of Prof. Chinua Achebe, has robbed Nigeria, Africa and indeed the entire literary world of two outstanding giants, who made distinctive contributions to Africa’s literature. I recall with extreme sadness also the recent passage of Prof. Kofi Awonoor, a Ghanaian literally scholar, who was killed in the terrorist attacks on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on 21st September, 2013.
“Prof. Festus Iyayi, a former ASUU President, had been engrossed in recent weeks in the processes towards the resolution of the ongoing ASUU national strike. He was travelling to Kano for a final meeting over the ASUU strike when the ugly accident that robbed him of his life occurred around Lokoja, Kogi State.
“My association with Prof. Festus Iyayi began when I became the National Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in the1986/87 academic year. On graduation, I was posted to old Bendel State for my Service Year during which I stayed with Prof. Iyayi.
“In spite of the age gap between us, Prof. Iyayi took me as a friend, and we continued to relate closely ever since until his demise in this unfortunate accident.
“Prof. Festus Iyayi lived his life fighting for a better Nigeria. In his entire academic and literary career, he was totally and completely devoted to national service.
“He was never one of those scholars seen at the corridors of power seeking favours. He devoted his life to scholarship and active struggle for the democratisation and transformation of Nigeria.
Maku said “for all the years I knew him, never once did Prof. Iyayi’s interest and devotion to Nigeria and Africa wane for a moment. He was among the very best this nation has produced as a citizen, scholar, writer and patriot.
“This death indeed has robbed Nigeria of one of Africa’s most fecund minds and a devoted advocate for Africa’s renaissance.
“The academic community, the workers movement, the literary community and Nigeria’s pro-democracy movement have lost a giant and a committed advocate for a better society that works in the interest of all its members.
“I will miss him personally as a friend, comrade and trusted associate in the struggle for Nigeria’s transformation and Africa’s redemption.
“Adieu Comrade Iyayi. The memory of your contributions and your ideas will continue to guide us and future generations in the service of our fatherland and humanity.
“My condolences to his family, his colleagues and friends spread across Nigeria and the global community of writers, scholars and social advocates.
The Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM said in a statement that the road accident which led to the untimely death of Professor Festus Iyayi, 66, a former ASUU president and world class writer and academic, in Lokoja while on his way to a meeting in Kano to end the 4-month-old ASUU strike, has come as a rude shock to. The demise of Prof Iyayi has come at a time when his academic services are needed the most. PDM deplores the incessant loss of valuable Nigerian lives due to avoidable road accidents caused by poor road construction and, often, by reckless and dangerous driving by highly placed Nigerians.
“Nigeria has endured too much loss of its priceless human assets through untimely deaths resulting from unnecessary road accidents”, lamented the National Chairman of PDM, Mallam Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, who spoke through his Media Advisor, Alaba Yusuf.
He added that: “Prof. Iyayi’s death, in a car crash allegedly involving the convoy of Kogi State Governor is regrettable and speaks to the need by highly placed Nigerians to lead by example instead of engaging in acts which continue to make our roads unsafe. Iyayi was a global academic icon who didn’t have to die this way. We pray for the repose of his soul and further pray God to grant his family the fortitude to bear the sad loss”