Mr Iyayai thus becomes the biggest casualties of the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), dying in active service. According to reports, the former president died as he headed for a meeting of the Union with other top members of the union where a declaration was to be made to end the on-going strike.
Reports said the accident occurred on Tuesday morning around Lokoja, Kogi State, as he made his way from Benin to Kano to attend a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU where the union is expected to call off its four month old strike.
He was an accomplished writer known for his radical and sometimes tough stance on social and political issues. Iyayi employed a realistic style of writing, depicting the social, political and moral environment and system both the rich and poor live and work in. He was also a former president of the Association of Senior Staff of Universities (ASSU)
Born in Edo state of Nigeria, his family lived on little means but instilled in him strong moral lessons about life. Iyayi started his Education at Annunciation Catholic College in the old Bendel State popularly known as ACC finishing in 1966 and in 1967 he went to Government College Ughelli graduating in 1968.
In that same year he was a zonal winner in a Kenedy Essay Competition organised by the United States Embassy in Nigeria. He left the shores of Nigeria to pursue his higher education, obtaining a M.Sc in Industrial Economics from the Kiev Institute of Economics, in the former USSR and then his Ph.D from the University of Bradford, England.
In 1980, he went back to Benin and became a lecturer in the Department of Business Administration at the University of Benin.
As a member of staff of the University, he became interested in radical social issues, and a few years after his employment, he became the President of the local branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), a radical union known for its upfront style on academic and social welfare.
He rose to the position of president of the national organization in 1986, but in 1988, the union was briefly banned and Iyayi was detained, in that same year he won the Commonwealth Prize for Literature for his book Heroes. He was later removed from his faculty position.
Upon his death, Iyayi was a member of different Nigerian literary organizations and worked in the private sector as a consultant.