We were saddened to hear about the passing of Nigerian writer and professor Festus Iyayi, who was killed yesterday in a road accident. He was 66 years old. Iyayi was travelling to Kano for an Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) meeting when the bus he was in was involved in a head-on collision with a vehicle in the Kogi State governor's security envoy. Iyayi had served as the president of ASUU in 1986, and remained an active member of the organisation's University of Benin (UNIBEN) chapter.
Born in 1947, Iyayi, a native of Edo State, was educated at the prestigious Government College in Ughelli, Delta State, and also earned a PhD from the University of Bradford in the UK. Upon his return to Nigeria, Iyayi became a professor of Business Administration at UNIBEN, although his uncompromising commitment to social and political change during the era of military rule eventually led to his being fired from the faculty. His writing, which includes the novels Violence (1979) and The Contract (1982), champions the lives of the Nigerian working class and their transcendence of the exploitation and victimisation they face on a day-to-day basis. Heroes (1986), which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize, explores the country's Civil War from both the Nigerian and Biafran sides through the lens of class conflict. Iyayi was a vocal critic of corruption and the failings of Nigerian society through his writing and social activism. Tributes and messages of consolation for his family and friends have poured in from around the country from figures such as President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr Nasir Fagge (President of ASUU), and Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie (the the Vice- Chancellor of Imo State University). May he rest in peace. Find books by Festus Iyayi in the ZODML Catalogue. Image source: DisNaija