Angry leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities allegedly chased away the Governor of Kogi State, Captain Idris Wada (retd.) from the emergency ward of the Lokoja General Hospital on Tuesday.
Wada had gone to the hospital to visit their injured colleague, Dr. Ngozi Ilo, and commiserate with them over the death of their former President, Prof. Festus Iyayi, in an accident involving his convoy and an ASUU vehicle on Tuesday.
The Chairman, University of Benin chapter of ASUU, Dr. Anthony Monye-Emina; and the Benin Zonal Coordinator, Dr. Sunny Iyalo, had minor injuries and were therefore not admitted into the hospital.
The ASUU leaders, including the National President, Dr. Biodun Ogunyemi; the Ibadan Zonal Coordinator, Dr. Nassir Adesola; the Chairman, Lagos State University chapter of the union, Dr. Adekunle Idris; Monye-Emina; Iyalo and lecturers from the Federal University Lokoja however sent the governor away from the hospital’s emergency ward.
Their grouse was Wada’s late response to the accident and the uncaring attitude he allegedly displayed towards the union leaders involved in the accident.
They also accused him of trying to make a political gain out of their misfortune.
Idris, who confirmed that Wada was chased out of the emergency ward, said, “We are surprised that a state governor could resort to telling lies because contrary to the claim by his spokesperson that he showed care towards our colleagues, he did not.
“Somebody that did not stop after his convoy killed our leader; somebody that did not come to the hospital until some minutes to 5pm (on Tuesday) after the accident that happened around 11am could not be said to be caring.
“That was why we chased him out of the emergency ward of the hospital and we also prevented him from seeing Prof. Iyayi’s corpse in the mortuary.
“We are not happy with the fact that he came very late to the hospital and the fact that when he came, his press crew attempted to take photograph and video record of Dr. Ilo, who is our national welfare secretary. We stopped them because that was the height of insensitivity.
“Somebody that could not provide us with an ambulance cannot be said to be caring. We had to call UNIBEN for an ambulance that took Ilo to the UNIBEN Teaching Hospital while our colleagues from the Federal University, Lokoja, with the assistance of the vice-chancellor, gave us the ambulance that was used to convey the remains of Prof. Iyayi to Benin.”
Idris added that though Wada left the hospital “like a gentleman,” some of his overzealous security aides tried to be naughty.
He said, “Some of the policemen that followed him to the hospital wanted to be naughty but we lectured them. The hospital workers and the residents of Lokoja who witnessed how we chased the governor away were happy.”
Also, Adesola expressed dismay at the efforts made by the governor to rewrite the incident.
He said, “It was actually the last of the governor’s convoy that veered off the road and ran into a vehicle that was conveying Iyayi and others.
“When the governor’s convoy came with noise and harassment, everyone on the road moved to the side of the road for them to pass but unfortunately, the governor’s aide has told the world that an ASUU vehicle was avoiding a trailer and ran into their escort vehicle.
“What manner of reckless lying is that? The front of the ASUU bus remains intact except for the windscreen that broke. Iyayi was sitting at the back of the bus and the escort van ran into it.
The most annoying part is that the incident occurred around 11am and the governor did not even visit the hospital until around 5pm.
“He came with a large number of pressmen and security aides and was attempting to make some political capital out of our misfortune.
“We actually had to chase him away from the emergency ward where our welfare secretary was still receiving treatment .”
But Jacob Edi, the Special Adviser, Media and Strategy to Wada, claimed that the ASUU leaders did not chase his boss away from the hospital.
Edi, who in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, insisted that Wada was not indifferent to the plight of the accident victims, however, stated that the union officials were not friendly.
He said, “When the governor went to the hospital, the ASUU people had a kind of adverse reaction to the governor. But they did not chase away the governor. Nobody chased away anybody.”
The governor’s spokesman added that the state government would not want to be involved in controversy over the death of the former ASUU president.
He stated that Wada was pained by the accident and had been sympathising with the bereaved families and the survivors.
It was however not only the ASUU leaders that lambasted the governor over the accident, the Nigeria Labour Congress, a former President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Peter Esele and an ex-Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Abubakar Tsav, also did.
They described Wada’s convoy as reckless and demanded the prosecution of the driver of the escort vehicle that caused the accident on the Lokoja-Abuja Road.
The NLC, in a statement in Abuja by its National President, Mr. Abdulwahed Omar, described the death of Iyayi as avoidable.
It also blamed the Federal Government for its neglect of the road.
The NLC said its position was that the federal and Kogi State governments were responsible for Iyayi’s death.
It said that 10 years after the contract for the rehabilation of the Lokoja-Abuja Road was awarded, it had been turned to a death trap.
The NLC said, “Iyayi’s death leaves a sour taste in the mouth and it is totally avoidable. It is blameable, lawlessness/impunity on the part of the Kogi State governor, who is fast acquiring for himself an accident-prone reputation.
The congress therefore advised “siren-blowing and terror-dealing convoys” to be conscious of other road users.
It called on the Federal Roads Safety Corps and the Nigeria Police to ensure that those behind the accident were brought to justice.
Esele and Tsav urged the relevant authorities to ensure that the convoy driver involved in the accident was prosecuted.
They spoke in different telephone interviews with our correspondents.
According to them, Wada has a responsibility to caution his drivers as his convoy has become reputed for recklessness.
Esele recalled that the convoy of the governor was involved in an accident which resulted in the death of Wada’s Aide de Camp and in which Wada was also injured.
Tsav, who described the death of the former ASUU leader as unfortunate, called on President Goodluck Jonathan to meet the demands of ASUU.
This, he said, would be in appreciation of the fact that Iyayi died while contributing to the development of university education in the country.
Tsav said that accidents occurred in Kogi State not because the roads in Kogi were the worst but because the drivers in the governor’s convoy were not cautious.
He said that the roads were not meant only for the political office holders but for all Nigerians.
He said, “The convoy of Wada is known for being reckless; this is not the first time this is happening. It does not mean that the worst roads are in Kogi State.
“I want to appeal to him to caution his drivers, they are reckless, he should caution them to be cautious on the roads, the roads belong to every Nigerian.”
Read more: Nigerian Eye