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Iyayi: Fashola flays use of siren

By Francis Onoiribholo (Benin), Oladele Ogunsola (Ibadan), Akinwunmi King and Ekene Okoro (Lagos)

The late Prof. Festus Iyayi

The late Prof. Festus Iyayi

Apparently reacting to Tuesday’s killing of Festus Iyayi by Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State’s convoy on the Abuja-Lokoja highway, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday condemned the use of siren by political office holders in Nigeria and reckless driving by government convoys.

Iyayi, a Professor of Business Administration and Management, and one time President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), died when the vehicle in which he was travelling to Kano somersaulted several times after being brushed by a car in the Kogi Governor’s convoy.

He was heading to Kano to attend an enlarged National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the union where it was expected that the over four months university lecturers’ strike would have been called off.

Iyayi’s body is to be committed to mother earth in the first week of December.

But Fashola, who spoke at the ongoing 13th National Council on Transport in Lagos, said the practice of moving about with siren by public office holders amounts to oppressing taxpayers with their own money.

The Governor wondered why those elected by the people would continue to disturb the peace of those who elected them and gave them the free cars they were driving.

“Let us get rid of all this sirens. They aren’t made here. We buy them to enrich other economy. They were made in factories outside the country. And then we use loud horn especially the one used during emergency.

“Are we in a state of perpetual emergency? If those who manage the public transport policy can get away by using sirens, it will never work.

“From the day that I have become Governor in this state and until this moment, I haven’t had cause to use it and I don’t intend to use it.

“I detest noise, but I think that it is even worse that people elect us to manage public transport on their behalf and we choose to escape from it. After riding in a free car paid for, coupled with the free fuel, it is an abdication of duty.

“It must apply across the board. At least at the state level, I can speak. My commissioners have very clear order on that; they will lose their job if they do,” Fashola said.

He added that the country can develop a public transport system that responds to the public, protects people, creates jobs and promotes economic growth while improving national safety and security.

“Every form of unqualified person goes pass our security post in a siren. And we expect to be safe.

“Those we put there to protect us cannot even detect who is who. So when they approach a check point with a kidnapped victim in their boot, they just put on their siren and drive away,” he added.

National Social Welfare Officer of ASUU, Prof. Ngozi Iloh, who also sustained severe injury on her legs in the auto crash was on Thursday taken to the Orthopaedic Ward of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH).

According to President of Save Accident Victims Association of Nigeria (SAVAN), Eddy Ehikhamenon, who spoke to Daily Independent in Benin, Iloh has regained consciousness and was in stable condition.

It was also learnt that the UNIBEN Chairman of ASUU, Anthony Emina, who was also in the crashed vehicle was among those present at the hospital when Iloh was wheeled to the Orthopaedic Ward of UBTH at about 12.00 noon on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State on Thursday paid a condolence visit to the family of late Iyayi, describing the former ASUU president as a man who gave his all in the struggle and led by example.

Oshiomhole, who said Iyayi’s death was a rude shock to him, declared: “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,” the Governor said.

A member of the Iyayi’s family, Prof. Robert Ebewele, disclosed on Thursday night that funeral ceremony for late Iyayi has been tentatively fixed for first week of December.

Ebewele who spoke when Pro-Chancellor of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Effiong Dickson Bob, paid a condolence visit to the bereaved family, said the funeral would begin with a commendation service.

He stressed that the family would liaise with the university community for the burial programme, just as he thanked the visitors for their concern.

Earlier, Effiong, who was led on the visit by Vice Chancellor of the University, Osayuki Oshodin, said he was deeply hurt by the incident.

According to him, though death must surely come, “how and when it will come is what we don’t know.”

“But it’s unfortunate that Iyayi died in the cause of finding a university system where things are done properly.

“It’s my hope that his death will spur ASUU leadership to honour him by finding a lasting solution to the strike even as I urge all those who are alive to do all they could with steadfastness and courage,” Effiong said.

National Social Welfare Officer of ASUU, Prof. Ngozi Iloh, who also sustained severe injury on her legs in the auto crash was on Thursday taken to the Orthopaedic Ward of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH).

According to President of Save Accident Victims Association of Nigeria (SAVAN), Eddy Ehikhamenon, who spoke to Daily Independent in Benin, Iloh has regained consciousness and was in stable condition.

It was also learnt that the UNIBEN Chairman of ASUU, Anthony Emina, who was also in the crashed vehicle was among those present at the hospital when Iloh was wheeled to the Orthopaedic Ward of UBTH at about 12.00 noon on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State on Thursday paid a condolence visit to the family of late Iyayi, describing the former ASUU president as a man who gave his all in the struggle and led by example.

Oshiomhole, who said Iyayi’s death was a rude shock to him, declared: “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,” the Governor said.

Another report from the Oyo State capital on Thursday said the University of Ibadan (UI) chapter of the ASUU has suspended forthwith all its activities and programmes to honour the late Iyayi.

This was contained in a text message sent by the union to all academic staff of the university.

The message said the decision became imperative to honour the deceased who devoted his life to fighting injustice and served the union meritoriously.

In the message UI ASUU chapter Chairman, Olusegun Ajiboye, said: “We regret to inform you that Prof Festus Iyayi was killed by the Kogi State Governor’s convoy while on Union assignment.

“Therefore, all Union programmes are hereby postponed until further notice to mourn the dead.”

Meanwhile, Kogi Gtate Governor has sent all his convoy drivers to the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC)’s driver’s training school, following Tuesday’s fatal accident.

Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the FRSC, Osita Chidoka, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at a media briefing to mark Africa Day for Road Crashes and World Day for Remembrance of Road Crash Victims.

Chikoda who expressed sadness over the death of the erudite scholar, pointed out that the convoy of Kogi State Government officials has been involved severally in auto-crashes in the last one year.

“This is not the first time that the Kogi State Governor’s convoy was involved in road crashes.”

“In December 28, 2012, Kogi State Governor had a crash where his ADC was killed. On 30th September 2013, five people were injured in the Kogi State Deputy Governor’s crash.

“The Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly has been involved in a crash.

“On Tuesday, November 12, 2013, the convoy of the governor was again was involved in auto-crash,” Chidoka said.

The FRSC boss lamented that when other Governors across the country sent their convoy drivers for training Kogi State Government was not part of it.

“When we saw that the convoy drivers were becoming a problem for the country, we started a process of training them.

“We worked with the Governors’ Forum and many state governments submitted their drivers for training. Interestingly, the Kogi State convoy was not involved in the training.

“I have just been told by the Sector Commander in Kogi State that the Governor had asked him to train all his convoy drivers.

“Of the 700 convoy drivers we trained in the last two years till date, none of them has been involved in road crashes.

“Now that the governor has directed his convoy drivers to be trained, we have advised him to bring FRSC personnel into his convoy. FRSC plays the role of safety managers. I believe there will be an improvement,” he said.

Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has also charged highly placed Nigerians, especially political office holders, to lead by example instead of engaging in acts that continue to make Nigerian roads unsafe.

The party spoke while reacting to the road accident, which led to the death of Iyayi.

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