•Buhari, Osinbajo, Obasanjo, Jonathan, Atiku, Tinubu, Govs, others pay tribute to late activist
The fiery spokesperson of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Comrade Yinka Odumakin, yesterday, died from lung complications, after testing negative to COVID-19 twice. He had earlier contracted the COVID-19 but had recovered and tested negative to the virus on two consecutive times. Odumakin had been discharged penultimate Monday from the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH), Yaba, Lagos, the isolation centre for COVID-19 patients.
But while still battling the disease, he was said to have been intubated and, in the process, suffered lung complications. According to close family sources, when the complications in his respiratory organs did not give way as quickly as expected, he was rushed to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, where he eventually passed on yesterday.
Family sources told THISDAY that the intubation at IDH had so affected his lungs that recovery was difficult.
Odumakin’s wife, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who confirmed some of the information in a brief statement formally announcing her husband’s death, stated, “With gratitude to the Supreme Being for a life well spent, I announce the passing on of my beloved husband, Comrade Yinka Odumakin, to the great beyond after a brief illness.”
In the statement titled, “A Part of Me Is Gone!” Mrs. Odumakin said, “The sad event happened this morning (Saturday, 3/4/2021) at the intensive care unit of 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 soul mate. I urge us all to remain steadfast in the cause of the masses to which he dedicated his life.”
There was a massive outpouring of grief, emotion, and eulogy at the news of Odumakin’s death, as national leaders, prominent Nigerians, and citizens from across the country paid tribute yesterday to one of the country’s most outspoken advocates of social justice, and spokesman of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in an emotional statement, described the fallen spokesman of Afenifere as a dutiful man of conviction. In the condolence message signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari commiserated with the family, friends, and acquaintances of Odumakin.
The late Odumakin was spokesman to Buhari in 2011, when he ran for president on the platform of the now defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
The president said Odumakin died at a time when he had a lot more to contribute to the country. He prayed God to grant repose to the soul of the departed activist and comfort all those he left behind.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in a release on Saturday by his media assistant, Laolu Akande, expressed sadness at the news of Odumakin’s death. Osinbajo commiserated with his wife, family and associates, and prayed that God will comfort the family.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo also reacted to the sad news and immediately paid a condolence visit to the leader of the pan-Yoruba group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, at his Lagos residence to commiserate with him over the demise of Odumakin.
In an equally touching tribute titled, “A strong voice for equity is gone,” former President Goodluck Jonathan described Odumakin as “a courageous patriot and rights crusader who gave his all to the struggle for a better Nigeria.”
Jonathan said Odumakin was a man with rich democratic credentials who “played active roles in the years of activism that birthed and stabilised civil rule in our country.”
The former president stated regarding Odumakin, “He was a great asset for just causes whose considerable contributions to the growth of civil society is not in doubt. He also acquitted himself as a seasoned journalist and columnist who promoted egalitarianism and social well-being, in his regular essays.”
The statement signed by Jonathan’s media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, also said, “As a cultural enthusiast, Mr. Odumakin lived his short life as a force to be reckoned with in propagating and protecting the interest of the Yoruba in the larger Nigeria social space.
“This is not a time to lose such a strong promoter of the ideals that would progress our nation in the desired direction of a united, just and equitable society.”
He Was a Strong Believer in Good Governance – Atiku Abubakar
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described Odumakin as a promoter of good governance. In a statement he personally signed, Atiku said, “Odumakin was a patriot and strong believer in the promotion of good governance, democracy and the rule of law. I sympathise with all Nigerians who share these same values with Odumakin, especially the Afenifere group, of which Yinka was the publicity secretary – a role he played with so much commitment and admiration.
“Much as our heart grieves over this unpleasant development, we must take solace in accepting it as an act of God and acknowledge the fact that Yinka lived a life of purpose in defence of the ordinary people of this country and to enthrone a better Nigeria.”
Afenifere: It’s a Loss Too Heavy to Bear
Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, tweeted a photo of Odumakin, which he captioned, “This is too heavy to bear.”
Secretary-General of Afenifere, Basorun Sehinde Arogbofa, described the death of the Afenifere spokesperson as a terrible blow to the country and the group.
Arogbofa, who reacted in Akure, said, “it’s a terrible blow. A terrible blow to me, as a person, because we’ve been so intimate.
“He’s been my right-hand man in Afenifere management. It’s terrible. Yinka should not have gone at this time.
“It’s a terrible blow to Afenifere and Nigeria. We’ve lost a brilliant chap with intelligent and brilliant ideas. This is sad, very sad.”
Odumakin was a focused social crusader – PDP
The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said Odumakin’s death was a huge loss to the country and, particularly, the PDP, given his erudite contributions to national dialogue and relentless commitment towards the development of democratic ethos in the country.
In a statement, National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “Odumakin was consistently focused in fighting for a nation in which the principles of equity, fairness and justice will thrive in every sphere of our national life.
“He dedicated his life as a journalist, human right activist and social crusader for improvement in every phase of the live in our country.
“Indeed, if Yinka Odumakin had the last pint of blood in his vein and there was a need to drop same for democracy to be strengthened in our country, he would have readily made it available
“Our party commiserates with his dear wife, Joe, who has also remained steadfast in fighting for human right, good governance, credible elections as well as justice, especially for the downtrodden.”
He was an uncommon patriot – APC
All Progressives Congress (APC) mourned the death of Odumakin, describing him as a seasoned public analyst, activist, politician and patriot, who was relentless in canvassing and serving the interests of Yorubaland and the progress of the country at large. Secretary of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, in a statement issued Saturday said Odumakin was an uncommon patriot.
He was a Champion of Egalitarianism – Sanwo-Olu
Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State said, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, that the late activist was a great nationalist, passionate leader, and champion of a true Nigeria that would work for every citizen.
The governor said, “Odumakin as civil rights activist was selfless. He spent the greater part of his life in the service of humanity, particularly the emancipation of the Yoruba people, the development of the South-west region, in particular, and the nation, in general.”
Odumakin “stood firmly behind the attainment of constitutional democracy and fiscal federalism as the basis for sustainable development and lifting the masses out of poverty,” Sanwo-Olu added. He said, “I personally followed the late Odumakin and found his principled position and capacity to speak truth to power as crucial for Nigeria’s political and economic development.”
A Bright Star Departed Prematurely – Tinubu
National leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, called Odumakin a dedicated and courageous civil society activist. Tracing Odumakin’s activism to his student days, Tinubu, in a personally signed statement, titled, “Yinka Odumakin: Premature Departure of a Bright Star,” said, “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 epitomised 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.”
He was Embodiment of Noble Virtues – Makinde
Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State described Odumakin’s death as the personal loss of a good brother and a great loss to the Yoruba race. In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, Makinde said the late Afenifere spokesman was a true Yoruba son, who embodied the ethos of Omoluabi, a dogged and true fighter of the Yoruba cause, and an advocate of good governance and true federalism.
He said Odumakin’s death had created a huge vacuum in Yoruba land and Nigeria.
The governor said, “While we submit to the will of Almighty God, who retains the right over the lives of every mortal, we are convinced that the values and ideals that Odumakin fought for in his lifetime have not died with him.”
He was a Great Son of the West – Fani-Kayode
A former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, said described Odumakin as a great warrior who feared nothing and stood for truth and justice right to the end.
Fani-Kayode said, “The South-west and, indeed, Nigeria has lost one of its greatest sons and brightest stars. Those of us who had the honour of being called your brother and who stood by you shoulder to shoulder through the most trying times for our people and the most bitter battles for the emancipation of our nation shall miss you dearly.
“You were a Spartan and a Roman all rolled into one in every sense of the word.
“A great son of the West who inspired millions, who made us proud of who we are and what we stand for, who humbled our collective adversaries and who harboured no fear.
“Your legacy is truly blessed and wrapped in glory and it shall surely endure.”
Ekweremadu: Odumakin was gallant soldier for democracy
Former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, condoled with the pan-Yoruba group, describing Odumakin’s death as a heavy loss, not only to the Yoruba nation, but also to the country as a whole.
Ekweremadu said Odumakin was a courageous leader, who worked tirelessly for a peaceful, equitable, and prosperous Nigeria.
“He was a gallant soldier for democracy and will be remembered for his dogged battles in this regard,” Ekweremadu said, adding, “It is sad that we have lost him, but it is even sadder that Nigeria is far from the egalitarian and prosperous nation he had hoped and worked for.”
He had unparalleled commitment to equity – Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum
Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum said concerning its late National Secretary, “Although he was an Afenifere chieftain, his commitment to building a Nigerian State, where fairness, equity and justice reigns, was unparalleled.
“For Southern Nigerian and Middle Belt Forum, Yinka was a backbone who in the past few years worked tirelessly to give the organisation both national and international visibility and recognition. He also brought clarity and common understanding to the problems bedevilling our country, aimed at providing timely solutions to them.”
The forum’s condolence message was jointly signed by its National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark; President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor; President-General of Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus; and National Chairman, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Senator Emmanuel Ibok-Essien.
Odumakin was a true Yoruba son – Gani Adams
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, described the death of Odumakin as one death too many, saying the Yoruba nation has lost a gem who was a dependable ally. Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, said the late Odumakin was a true Yoruba son, a committed fellow, and the voice of the people, especially, the downtrodden.
Adams stated, “We’ll all miss his voice. We’ll miss his commitment, we’ll miss his 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.”
He Fought for Noble Ideals – Obaseki
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki stated, “Odumakin, a man of many parts, tirelessly spoke unequivocally for Nigeria’s advancement, pursuing causes to open up the civic space and engender community engagement in governance and politics.”
Obaseki added, “As an activist and politician, he was in a class of his own. He fought for noble ideals; gave himself to the struggle to make Nigeria great and never ran away from the clarion call for national redemption…Odumakin will be missed for his candour, courage and strength of character, which was never in short supply when it mattered the most.”
It’s big loss to Yoruba nation – Oyetola
Governor of The State of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola, called the late activist a unique advocate of justice, fairness, good governance, and a better Nigeria. Oyetola said, “The death of Mr Yinka Odumakin is a great loss to Yorubaland and Nigeria as a whole. His contributions to the enthronement and growth of democracy in the country will never be forgotten.”
He lived good life, fought good fight – Abiodun
Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said Odumakin was a fearless public commentator who lived a good life and fought a good fight for Nigeria. In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, Abiodun said, “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 South-west 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.”
Yinka was a change agent – Obi
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) vice presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Mr Peter Obi, called Odumakin a change agent. Obi said, however, “I am sure he died a sad man, sadness not in terms of being regretful of his personal life nor the extent of his accomplishments, but in terms of being weighed down, as surely as all patriotic Nigerians are, by the ugly development in Nigeria that has made life seem hopeless.”
Lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, in a statement titled, “Yinka Odumakin – The Irrepressible Warrior Goes Home,” recalled his recent engagements with Odumakin on the state of the nation. Ozekhome wrote in the poetic tribute, “And this gadfly and searing pain in successive government’s flesh has gone? Just like that? This pear? This gem of a pan-Nigerian? This Yoruba nationality crusader for self-identity and self-determination? This shinny and incandescent example of a genuine comrade and unflagging struggler, who, in his lifetime, inspired a whole new generation of rights crusaders? This bold, fearless, courageous wordsmith, whose pen was mightier than the sword? Good God! Our loss is heavens’ profit.
“Our pain is paradise’s gain. Odumakin championed the people’s cause. He fought on behalf of the voiceless and the beleaguered. He was not materially rich. But, he was a trillionaire in integrity, honour and dignity. His legacies are trailers-load. Yinka was not just an Activist per Excellence; he was an uncommon public Affairs analyst, social critic, politician and political strategist, who shot from all cylinders on matters of national interest. He was fecund cerebral. He walked the talk. He fought wars and battles…He left no stone unturned and no turn unstoned in his desire for a better Nigeria. A Nigeria imbued with mutual respect, ethnic nationalities’ self-determination; inter-religious harmony, egalitarianism and social justice.”
He was true federalism apostle – Ibori
Former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, described Odumakin as the kind of gadfly any nation would need, saying he was indefatigable in his advocacy for true federalism. In a statement by his media assistant, Tony Eluemunor, Ibori said, “Though Mr. Odumakin was not among my supporters, and our paths rarely crossed, yet, that did not blind me to the fact that he was gradually becoming a credible voice for true federalism and fiscal restructuring, which Nigeria needs badly. So, I always wished him well. Now, I will miss him very much.”
A former governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje, said, “Nigeria lost a towering patriot in Yinka Odumakin.”
An activist, Inibehe Effiong, wrote, “Rest in peace Comrade Yinka Odumakin. You followed the path you believed with courage and tenacity. As an activist, you were never afraid of speaking truth to power. Your role as the spokesman of Afenefere will not be forgotten.”
Pro-democracy Movement of Nigeria
Pro-democracy Movement of Nigeria mourned Odumakin’s demise, calling it a huge loss. Convener of the June 12 Pro Democracy Movement of Nigeria, Olawale Okunniyi, announced a seven-day mourning period for the democracy activist.
Okunniyi, while virtually addressing leaders of the June 12 movement yesterday, said Odumakin was one of the fiercest and most prolific comrades of the pro-democracy movement in Nigeria, who spent most of his adult life fighting the cause of a just and equitable Nigeria. He said the late activist deserved to be immortalised.
A statement on Saturday by media assistant to Okunniyi, Obafemi Olubori, said, “Odumakin and others in the National Conscience Party (NCP) led by Chief Gani Fawehinmi of blessed memory teamed up with the Campaign for Democracy (CD) led by Dr Beko Ransome Kuti in the 90s to flush military rule out of power. As fate would have it, he met his heartthrob and greatest supporter, Joe Okei, in the cause of that struggle, which led to the restoration of the present democratic rule in Nigeria”
An Irrepressible Warrior Goes Home – Mike A.A. Ozekhome
And this gadfly and searing pain in successive government’s flesh has gone? Just like that? This pear? This gem of a pan-Nigerian? This Yoruba Nationality Crusader for self-identity and self-determination? This shinny and incandescent example of a genuine Comrade and unflagging struggler, who, in his lifetime, inspired a whole new generation of rights crusaders? This bold, fearless, courageous wordsmith, whose pen was mightier than the sword? Good God! Our loss is heavens’ profit. Our pain is paradise’s gain. Odumakin championed the people’s cause. He fought on behalf of the voiceless and the beleaguered. He was not materially rich. But, he was a trillionaire in integrity, honour and dignity. His legacies are trailers-load. Yinka was not just an Activist per Excellence; he was an uncommon public Affairs analyst, social critic, politician and political strategist, who shot from all cylinders on matters of National interest. He was fecund cerebral. He walked the talk. He fought wars and battles. He won most.