Governor Adams of Edo State has described the former President of the Academic Staff Union of the Universities, Professor Festus Iyayi who died in an auto crash as man who gave his all in the struggle and led by example, saying his death was a rude shock to him.
Oshiomhole stated this yesterday in Benin City when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late professor.
The Governor said “I am here on behalf of the good people of Edo State to condole with you and members of your family on the death of Professor Festus Iyayi. The Iyayi family cannot be defined in terms of the wife, the immediate children, as well as family members.
“Iyayi was a member of a much larger family that cuts across the length and breadth of Nigeria. For me and I believe for all those who knew him, it was a rude shock. In fact, I was extremely shocked. It was extremely shocking when somebody showed a text message and suggested in that message that Iyayi might not have survived that accident. I told the man not to spread false rumour.
“A week before then, I saw him on television along with his colleagues providing intellectual backing as to why the federal government should deliver on their commitment to ASUU as per the agreement signed in 2009. I played a part in the signing of that agreement after both parties shifted ground.
“When I learnt that our comrade died in such gruesome manner, only a stone hearted person would not be moved. I do not know how to convey not just my feeling, but the feelings of those who have known him.
“I had known him when I was in the NLC and ASUU at that time was not part of the NLC. Iyayi along with his colleagues provided intellectual backing to support and encourage the NLC to articulate its position on a variety of socio-economic and political issues. So he was always there”, he said.
Oshiomhole noted “in line with the ASUU tradition of selfless service and sacrifice in the truest sense of that word, he would always travel by road covering long distances where even junior officers and lower people would rather take flights. ASUU leaders would always go by road to any part of the country, leading by example.
“When people talk of selfless service, commitment to nation, leadership by example giving your all to what you believe in, constituting yourself to a one man liberation army driven by national passion to reposition our great country to lead the continent to the way God had intended, Iyayi represented the best of that tradition”, he noted.
Oshiomhole insisted “even those who disagree with his logic could not his fault his position. Even those who faulted his logic could not fault his patriotism that informed those positions. Those are the kind of leadership every community needs if Nigeria would be different from what it has been.
“When I came here, I was troubled by the position of Ambrose Alli University and I wanted people who have dedicated their lives to the cause of education, Professor Iyayi and Dr Peter Ozo-Eson are people I knew all their lives they have worked persuading government to accord the appropriate recognition and sufficient allocation to the university system in order to build the much needed competent human capital.
“I approached them to be members of the governing council which they readily accepted and offered their time generously along with others to provide leadership for the AAU. When I say that we feel the pains, it is not a matter of rhetoric”, he said.
Responding on behalf of the family, Professor Austine Ebewele thanked the governor for the visit and said the death was a big loss not only to the family but also to the university community.