Many socio-cultural and human rights organisations across the country were left in deep mourning yesterday over the sudden passage of Mr. Yinka Odumakin, who until his death was the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere and one of the spokesmen of Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum (SMBLF).
According to a statement from the wife, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, the pioneer Publicity Secretary of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) died of COVID-19 complications at the Intensive Care Unit, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) yesterday.
She said: “The sad event happened this morning (Saturday, 3/4/2021) at the intensive care unit of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) where he was being managed for respiratory issues due to complications from COVID-19 which he had recovered from about a week ago. I appreciate the outpouring of grief and sympathy from home and abroad as I mourn my irreplaceable soulmate. I urge us all to remain steadfast in the cause of the masses to which he dedicated his life. Burial arrangement will be made public in due course.”
President Muhammadu Buhari recalled Odumakin as dutiful, and a person of conviction, expressing sorrow at his demise, when he had a lot more to contribute to society and the nation at large.
President Buhari, in a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina prayed God to grant repose to the soul of the departed activist, and comfort all those who mourn him.
In a condolence message titled: “Premature departure of a bright star”, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu described the deceased as a “committed fighter for democracy, dedicated civil society activist, a courageous and outspoken defender of whatever ideals and principles he believed in and a patriotic citizen in every sense of the word.”
According to the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), “Ever since his student days, Odumakin had been fearless and unrelenting in speaking up in promoting the cause of justice and what he perceived as the best interest of the citizens of Nigeria. He participated actively at the forefront in the various students and youth struggles against successive military dictatorships in the 1980s and 1990s. In the process, he was arrested, harassed, and even detained several times. Yet, he never allowed himself to succumb to tyranny or be pressured into submissive and pliant silence.
“Odumakin never held public office. But he has been a constant feature and part of our public consciousness over the last two decades of this unbroken democratic dispensation. He epitomized the true definition of the citizen; a patriot who was ever conscious of the fact that his life could not be complete or his humanity meaningful if he did not take an active interest in and join likeminded fellow citizens in seeking always to promote the common good of his community and country.
“In the course of the last two and a half decades, Odumakin and I had cause to collaborate in various organizations and in pursuit of different political causes at different times and I can testify to his capacity for hard work, his brilliance, his tenacity in his loyalty to his cherished principles. Even if we differed politically, I had no cause to doubt his sincerity in charting his chosen path. He will forever remain a model of what a citizen who places the good of his country above his personal interest could be. For, given his talents and abilities, Odumakin could easily have opted to focus on his personal welfare and that of his family rather than embroil himself in the several struggles he dedicated his life to.”
Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, declared that the southwest has lost a courageous human rights activist and fearless public commentator.
The governor noted that Odumakin, while alive, championed the cause of the southwest and promoted the ideals of the late sage and Premier of the defunct Western Region, Obafemi Awolowo, which were held dear by the Afenifere.
Abiodun, who said the late activist would be remembered for his timely response to national issues, particularly, ones that affected the southwest, added that Odumakin lived a good life and fought a good fight.
“For those of us who have followed Odumakin’s trajectory in journalism and activism, he lived a good life and fought doggedly to defend the defenceless. He and his wife were always at the forefront to protest against oppressive government policies.
“As the spokesperson of the Afenifere, he discharged his duties diligently and defended the cause of the southwest passionately. He never hid his passion for the Yoruba people and was never timid to speak against any policy that would affect the generality of the nation.
“Though, the activist has gone to the join his Maker, his humane and altruistic activities while on Earth will remain indelible in our hearts.
“I commiserate with his immediate family, especially his wife and ‘Siamese twins’, Joey Odumakin, the Afenifere, and indeed, the southwest. I pray that his soul finds comfort in the bosom of the Almighty God. We shall all miss Odumakin. Goodnight, Yinka!” The statement concluded.
In the reckoning of Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the demise of Ogunmakin, “ is a huge loss to the Yoruba Race and Nigeria at large.”
According to the governor, “It saddens us as Government and people of Ondo State to be faced with the reality of the demise of Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin. It is heart-aching; it’s one death with many losses to our people.
“He was a true Nationalist who placed Yoruba Race on a pedestal of honour and high regards and quite fearlessly, gave all in his passion-filled struggle for a virile and peaceful Nigeria with fairness, justice, equity, and freedom as his beacons.
“His roles in the enthronement of popular democracy, as well as his fiery advocacy for the Rule of Law, remain undoubtedly legendary. We recall his fiery beginning in the struggle as the Publicity Secretary of Obafemi Awolowo University student Union where he discharged his duties creditably.”
The former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose eulogised Odumakin “as a man in total defense of justice and fairness for all. He had a life well spent, not how far, but how well. “In it all, he will be remembered for his undiluted love for the Yoruba race and Nigerians in general.
“My prayers are with his wife, children, and the leadership of Afenifere at this difficult time. May the soul of Yinka Rest In Peace.”
In a condolence message, one of his close allies and Aare Onakankanfo of Yoruba land, Otunba Gani Adams said Yoruba has lost a gem and dependable ally.
Adams, described the death of the Odumakin as one death too many. He said Yoruba has lost a gem, who, according to him was a dependable ally.
Aare Adams, who received the news of the late Odumakin’s death with shock and trepidations, said the death of the late Afenifere publicity scribe was a big loss to the Yoruba nation, adding that death had dealt the Yoruba nation a big blow, leaving in its wake, sad memories of the loss of a brother, a friend and dependable ally.
While mourning his friend of many years, Adams said Odumakin was a true Yoruba son, a committed fellow, and the voice of the people, especially, the downtrodden.
“We’ll all miss his voice. We’ll miss his commitment, we’ll miss is bravery because the late Yinka Odumakin’s fearless image loomed larger than what we can easily forget in a hurry.
“He was a phenomenon that spoke truth to power. He cut a picture of an all-rounder, a media personage, an analyst and public commentator that had warmed himself to the hearts of many people.
“His exit had left a big vacuum in the social and political milieu and Nigerians will always remember him for who he was because, in his life, the late Odumakin was truly one of the few gifted souls of our race.
“The extent of the shocking news for me has been inexplicable. It will take a very long time for me to accept the realities of his death.
“We are in the struggle together, we shared so many memories together and I was very close to the family, so for me, it was a personal loss and I wish my sister, his wife, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, and the deceased relatives well, especially at this trying moments”.
“For the Yoruba nation, and Afenifere as a whole, Odumakin’s imprints will always be in the book of history, but as much as his death was so rude and shocking, we are consoled that the man died, though, very young, he will be remembered for his invaluable contributions to the development of Nigeria and the Yoruba nation in particular.”
In another reaction, General Secretary, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide said his death was a big loss to Nigeria and the Yoruba race particularly.
According to Olajide, “Odumakin love Nigeria and Yoruba race so much. He was in the struggle to see the best of Nigeria for a long time but unfortunately, he left in the midst of the fight. He however left a great imprint. I salute his humility and talent especially the way he displayed during the 2014 National Conference.”
Up north, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) also eulogied the virtue of Odumakin, saying, “The human rights community had lost a great man.”
In a telephone conversation with The Guardian yesterday, President AYCF, Alhaji Yerimma Shettima said, “His death was a great loss to Nigeria. He stood on the side of the people.”
In another condolence, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum said Odumakin was a bundle of contradictions but a great lover of Nigerians and Nigeria.
President Yoruba Ronu, Mr Akin Malaolu said Odumakin was wholly out of sympathies with corrupt leaders and also one of those who could without a hint of precocity analysed events and defend a cause with deft temerity.
“We need not tell you all how mournfully we felt when the news of his death broke. He played his part and now he had followed out his fate. In spite of his numerous iniquities, by the recollection of many joys in the glories of this earth, as by corks, to float himself in the sea of nothingness until he reaches the region of the Blessed and the pure in heart.
“Almighty God will single him out on account of his love for our people and most especially the helpless and hapless. He shall walk between three great Prophets of GOD – namely Our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Prophet Mohammed (saw) and Prophet Moses and they shall open the door of Heaven for him.”
Also speaking on his passage, governorship candidate of Lagos Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Jimi Agbaje said, “I am too shocked to talk. I least expected Odumakin will die this time.”
In a similar vein, Mr Sola Lawal, who stood in for Odumakin as Afenifere spokesman until he died said, “I cannot talk now.”
Spokesman Middle Belt Forum, Dr Isuwa Dogo said, “I worked with Odumakin over decades and I say he was a very great man. He loved Nigeria and wished the best for the country especially his desire to see a restructure system of government.”
Mr Akin Osuntokun, a former Political Adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo said Odumakin left a big battle just as the National Chairman ARG, Mr Wale Oshun described the decease as a great loss to the Yoruba nation.
Odumakin was last seen in public engagements when the Afenifere delegation led by Chief Supo Sonibare paid condolence visit to the family of family the late Alhaji Lateef Jakande at Ilupeju in early February.
He could hardly walk but had to call for assistance from two journalists that supported him into his vehicle. A similar scenario played out when Sunday Igboho paid a courtesy visit from Ibadan to the Lagos residence of Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo from where they moved to Adams house. Odumakin was practically aided to walk throughout the event.
Reliable source said it was from there his peers and other elders prevailed on him (Odumakin) to leave the stage and concentrate on his health.
Until his demise Odumakin was a member of Afenifere and also served briefly as pioneer Spokesman of ARG. He was Spokesman of Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) in the 2011 presidential election when President Muhammadu Buhari and his then running mate Pastor Tunde Bakare contested but lost to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
By 2015 Odumakin had left the Bubari’s camp to support Jonathan. He played a significant role as a member of Save Nigeria Group (SNG) in 2009 when the Doctrine of Necessity was invoked to swear in Jonathan as president after the death of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Odumakin was also a member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which fought the military regime to a standstill for actualisation of June 12 Presidential Election results and enthronement of democracy.