From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin
A Catholic priest, Reverend Father Andrew Obiyan, incurred the wrath of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, on Friday when he appealed to the body to “surrender” to the federal government and call off its strike action.
Obiyan gave the appeal while officiating at the commendation service of the late former president of ASUU, Festus Iyayi, held at the Akin Deko auditorium of University of Benin.
Angered by his advise, many pros in the congregation booed the priest, holding up the service for a while.
Obiyan had noted that there is no success without sacrifice and that surrendering at this time was a sign of strength and not of weakness.
“ASUU will never, never lose by it. They will always gain by it and their dreams will never die.”
“My humble appeal to you, as a minister of God, is to kindly request you in the name of God to please make surrender the tools of power. You have made your point eloquently and clear enough. Sincere and intelligent Nigerians will consider what you have done and will forever appreciate you for it,” he said.
The Reverend Father urged the union to give the federal government a chance in spite of the fact that it may betrayed the trust reposed on them in the past.
Earlier, Obiyan extolled Iyayi for his tenacity of purpose, courage and sense of dedication to duty, all of which he said contributed to the “hero” he became, both in life and in death.
“The death of the faithful is precious in the eyes of God, so I want to admonish the family not to think of the pain of death, but think about the bright promise of immortality,” he said.
Reacting to the appeal, President of ASUU, Nasri Isa Fagee, said the reaction from the crowd was enough attestation to the mood of majority of union members on the matter.
“We were told here at this gathering there were some fundamental issues that bother the mind of our late comrade, as to the future of the struggle. For me, it is left for us to rally round those ideals and advance his legacies. You saw the reaction of the crowd to what was said about suspending the struggle, and that to me said it all,” he said.
Among dignitaries at the commendation service were governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, UNIBEN Vice Chancellor, Osayiki Oshodin, the first executive governor of Edo State, John Odigie Oyegun, secretary to the state government, Julius Ihonvbere, former attorney general of the state, Osagie Obayuwana and ASUU officials from across the nation, led by its President.