Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Iyayi’s death: NLC may drag Kogi governor to human rights commission

The NLC condemned the state of the Abuja-Lokoja road.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Wednesday said it may be
compelled to drag the Federal and Kogi State governments before the
National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, if they fail to take full
responsibility for the death of the former President of the Academic
Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Festus Iyayi. Mr. Iyayi died in an
accident allegedly caused by a vehicle on the Kogi State governor's
The senior lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of
Benin, died on Tuesday along Lokoja-Abuja road while on his way to
Kano to attend a meeting of the ASUU National Executive Council, NEC,
as part of efforts to find solution to the ongoing strike by
university lecturers.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Chris Uyott, told PREMIUM TIMES in a
telephone interview that though the NLC President, Abdulwahed Omar,
had earlier demanded that the Federal and Kogi State governments be
held accountable for the death of the eminent scholar, the Congress
may petition the NHRC to ensure that he did not die in vain.
In his remarks, The NLC President, who described Mr. Iyayi's demise as
"painful and tragic", said his death was not only a blow to ASUU and
the NLC, but a blow to the entire country to which he committed his
entire life.
"He was a great scholar, who bestrode virtually all the disciplines
like a colossus," he said, adding that though he was a Management
Science Scholar, Mr. Iyayi was remarkable in his reputation a novelist
and literary icon, whose works were a standard read for literary
students in universities across the world.
"Iyayi was a leading authority in Industrial Relations and an activist
to the core, often deploying his prodigious energy and intellectual
prowess to the cause. As President of the Academic Staff Union in
1986, he set the tone and pace of ASUU protests, in spite of the
overbearing military government. It certainly must be in appreciation
of this that the executive of ASUU, had always thought if fit to
involve him in negotiations," Mr. Omar said.
He said the deceased's passion for activism knew no bounds, noting in
particular the years of his sabbatical with the Congress when he
impacted positively on the activities of the labour body.
"Iyayi's death leaves a sour taste in the mouth and is totally
avoidable. It is blamable on federal government's act of criminal
negligence on the one hand and executive lawlessness/impunity on the
part of the Kogi State Governor who is fast acquiring for himself an
accident-prone reputation," he said.
The Lokoja-Abuja stretch of road, which he pointed out was one of the
busiest in the country, had suffered neglect by the Federal and Kogi
State governments, as the contract for its dualisation awarded about
ten years ago to ease vehicular movement and reduce accidents on the
road is yet to be completed, and has caused several accidents.
Mr. Omar said the NLC was of the view that there was no justification
for abandoning the road, stating the government must be ready to let
Nigerians know the facts of the contract.
Government, he warned, would be doing very little to help itself if it
shielded, rather than prosecute the criminals responsible for the
non-completion of the road. He urged "all siren-blowing and
terror-dealing convoys to exercise utmost caution as well as have
regard for other road users."
He also urged the National Assembly to criminalise fatal road crashes
as part of the process of bringing accountability to road use.

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