It is with profound sadness that Civil Society Legislative Advocacy (CISLAC) mourns the tragic death of Nigerian renowned writer, academic and leading democratic activist, Professor Festus Iyayi, whose death occurred after a ghastly motor accident on Tuesday 11th November 2013 along the Auchi and Lokoja highway on his way to the national congress organized by Academic Staff Union of University in Kano.
CISLAC remembers the tireless and committed efforts put in by this development oriented intellectual in the struggle for a better Nigeria. We say without any fear of contradiction that the deceased was a famous university don, who has contributed to progressive agitations and advocacy for people oriented development, citizen’ welfare and emancipation. We recall his tough stance on social and political issues, intelligent articulation of trade union and progressive positions, thought provoking opinions and pro-poor alternatives canvassed through his several publications.
CISLAC recollects that his sojourn as the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), he fought tirelessly to save university education from total collapse. His contribution towards nation education development would forever be celebrated. It is sad to note that 23 years after his initial struggle, the state of university education has deteriorated further and Iyayi met a painful death fighting the same cause.
CISLAC recalls with nostalgia, the personal contribution of Festu Iyayi to the development of civil society in Nigeria as he was a mentor and source of inspiration to several activists and organizations in the sector with his insightful advice and constructive inputs. We view now with deep pain, lying in our library, his last contribution as a CISLAC Resource Person, the Assessment of the implementation of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Act and Process in Nigeria.
We regret once again, that one of Nigeria’s leading light in social activism and progressive struggle is lost to the death traps we call roads in Nigeria, which continues to claim the lives of innocent people on a daily basis. This painfully calls to mind the loss of Chima Ubani, a renowned activist who died in a similar circumstance several years ago on his way from Maiduguri where he had participated in a sensitization rally organized by the labour movement to resist the plan by the Nigerian state to increase the cost of petroleum products and make life more miserable for the toiling poor masses of the country.
CISLAC is sad that Iyayi died in an accident that involved the convoy Kogi State governor. We note with concern the arbitrary use of convoys and the recklessness with which they drive on our highways, endangering the lives of innocent people. One would have thought that after surviving an accident under such circumstances, the governor would be more circumspect in his ways.
We call on the government to pay attention to the quality of our roads and ensure that they are safe for motorists to prevent avoidable deaths on our highway.
We also call on all elected and appointed political leaders to deist from the use of unnecessary convoys and caution their drivers to drive carefully, respect traffic regulations and respect the rights of other road users.
We call on the police authorities to investigate the circumstances resulting in the accident and ensure that any defaulting parties are brought to justice in accordance with our laws.
We call on the federal government to immediately take steps to revamp the state of university education in Nigeria, a cause for which Iyayi lived and died so that his death would not have been in vain
We sympathize with all members of ASUU, the University of Benin, all progressively minded activists and civil society as a whole on this painful loss. We particularly pray that God grants his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director, CISLAC