Afenifere Spokesman Comrade Yinka Odumakin Rest on Till we Path no More

 The late Afenifere spokesman, Comrade Yinka Odumakin whose funeral rites began yesterday was a resilient fighter who, like a warrior, fought handful of battles during his lifetime. His act of bravery, tenacity and consistency endeared him to many and has been acknowledged by millions of Nigerians who have been paying glowing tributes to him since his demise on Friday, April 2 (Good Friday). 

                       


His Last Days 

Odumakin, an apostle of True Federalism and restructuring never wavered on this all-important issue until he breathed his last. Despite his health challenges, he was a regular face at the Lekki home of Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere national leader. Most of the meetings centred on the activities of killer herdsmen and South-West security . 


He was present at Adebanjo’s residence on February 8 when Yoruba rights activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly called Sunday Igboho visited and met with Afenifere. 


On Wednesday, February 17, Odumakin was part of the Afenifere group that paid a condolence visit to the family of late Alhaji Lateef Jakande, a former governor of Lagos at his Ilupeju residence. At the event, he looked emaciated and a lot of people who saw him had expressed concern over his state of health. 


The Moro, Osun state-born activist was also at Pa Adebanjo’s residence on March 5 when Ayodele Fayose visited for discussion on the nation’s affairs. Fayose had tweeted “Yesterday, I visited elder statesman and Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo. Alongside my brother, Yinka Odumakin, we had fruitful discussions on the state of the nation”. Many who saw the pictures taken after the meeting also raised concerns on Odumakin’s health but he was undaunted, attending series of meetings, even outside Lagos. It was gathered that Afenifere leaders later prevailed on him to take a break and attend to his health. 


On Monday March 8, this writer and The Nation’s Political Editor, Dr. Emmanuel Oladesu had gone on appointment to the Omole Phase 2 residence of the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams for an interview on the arrest of Iskilu Wakili, a suspected Fulani warlord in the Ibarapa area of Oyo state. While waiting in the reception, a black tinted Mercedes Benz drove into the premises. The driver alighted and assisted someone out of the car. It was Yinka Odumakin! He was in pains but full of life. He said he had an urgent appointment with his physician but had decided to branch at the Yoruba generalissimo’s place to notify him of an important meeting. After a fruitful conversation and banters, the interview session was about starting and Odumakin asked to be excused to proceed to his doctor’s place at Royan Hospital in Ojodu Berger area of Lagos. We bade him farewell and wished him a quick recovery. 


Unfortunately, that meeting was Odumakin’s last public outing as it was gathered that his doctor practically ‘detained’ him saying he couldn’t return home again as he required urgent medical attention. Odumakin never made it back home as his condition worsened. From Royan Hospital, he was transferred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, where it was discovered that he had contracted COVID-19. 


He was then transferred to the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH), Yaba, Lagos, the isolation centre for COVID-19 patients. But while being treated for COVID-19 , 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 back to LASUTH where he eventually passed on. 


Comrade Yinka Odumakin's Lying-In-State at the Police College. Ikeja Lagos.









His Many Battles 


During his student days at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU),Odumakin who served as the Public Relations Officer of OAU Students’ Union was suspended alongside seven other union leaders by OAU management for leading peaceful protests against the military junta led by Ibrahim Babangida. Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) challenged their expulsion in court and they were all reinstated. 


Odumakin was one of the young elements of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that fought the regime of late military head of state, Sani Abacha, after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. It was during one of the protests that he was arrested alongside the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi and both were detained at the Nigerian Prisons Service, Alagbon in Lagos. There, he met his beloved wife, Comrade Joe Okei-Odumakin. They were introduced to each other by the late legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi. They later became close friends, got married and became the most famous couple activists in Nigeria. They were both delegates at the 2014 national conference. 


Narrating how they met, the late Odumakin said “We met at a detention facility in Alagbon where she was transferred from Ilorin, Kwara State, after her detention over some pro-democracy campaigns. 


“I had read the name in the newspapers before then but I thought the person was a man. Two persons and I were picked alongside Chief Gani Fawehinmi at a rally in Lagos and taken to the same facility. When we saw her there, chief stopped and greeted her and asked if I knew her. I said no. He then introduced us and I told him that I thought she was a man. That was our first contact and we thereafter became comrades and later friends. The rest as they say is history.” 


Also in a glowing tribute to her husband titled ‘Yinka: Basking In The Shadow That You Cast’, Okei-Odumakin wrote ““My memories are rousing through chains of pains. A sea surge of a romance which sprouted in Gen. Sani Abacha’s detention. 


“My husband was not a criminal, neither was I. Our ‘crime’ was standing strong for others as we always have been. We will return to the dingy detention cell in our reminiscences later! 


“Who meets and marries from detention at Alagbon? Only Yinka would ask! And only I would say YES! 


“We were introduced to each other by the most qualified, the most preeminent, and the most decorated of inmate – Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAM, SAN). 


“Chief said: ‘Yinka, she’s a man!’. Yinka married both the man & the woman in me! It was our truest solemnisation of activist matrimony by a revered High Priest of the struggle…with the trench as our altar and the good of our people as our ultimate goal. 


“Yinka, it cannot be goodbye, it is goodnight and see you later on the other side with God. I will bask with reckless abandon in the shadow of your cast…” 


Upon return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, Odumakin who had just joined Afenifere was asked to get ticket for the House of Representatives by Afenifere leaders who were in control of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD). Alongside his friend, Dr. Bunmi Omoseyindemi, they declined the offer. 


In his words “After receiving us into Afenifere, I remembered that time Chief Adebanjo said myself and Bunmi Omoseyindemi should go and collect form to go the House of Representatives in 1999. But we humbly rejected the offer and respectfully told him that we didn’t join Afenifere to seek positions but that our aim is to build the organization. The first assignment we were given was to go and conduct the AD primaries in Ondo state to pick the governorship candidate. I, Dr. Omoseyindemi and others led the team to go and conduct the primary that led to the emergence of late Adebayo Adefarati as AD candidate in 1998”. 


Due to the division between the two factions of Afenifere (Reuben Fasoranti and Ayo Fasanmi), the late Odumakin was among the younger elements who broke away to form the Afenifere Renewal Group where he became the pioneer Publicity Secretary. 


He however returned to the mainstream Afenifere after the ARG under the leadership of Wale Oshun pledged alliance to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) founded by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State Governor. He remained the spokesman of Afenifere until his demise. 


Giving his reasons for dumping the ARG, he said “Indeed, we were to take a different name, but some of us insisted we should take Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), so that when the elders see that we are moving on they would align. It was an agreement among us to renew the whole Afenifere project, and that was how we launched ARG”. 


“We started and were moving on, but after some months, we had a meeting at Magodo and a decision came up that we should have a political agenda in order to have a sense of direction. I still remember that it was Honorable Oshun, who asked why we were addressing the issue; he said we belonged to ACN. But I said no, some of us do not belong to ACN. That was the first signal that things may not be what we thought”. 


“The final straw that made me walk away from ARG was when we went to Ekiti State to support Governor Kayode Fayemi, who was contesting for the state governorship”. 


“The event coincided with the time Bola Tinubu rebuilt Adekunle Fajuyi House. On that very morning we were in Ekiti, I opened the Nation Newspaper and saw a full-page advert that said, ‘we thank our leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu for rebuilding Fajuyi’s House.’ It was signed by ARG. As the publicity secretary, I turned to Oshun and asked who placed the advert because I was seeing it for the first time”. 


“What brought about my action was that when we came out as ARG, people felt we were an offshoot of Tinubu and I had to do a lot of talking to convince people against such belief ”. 


“At that point, I decided to leave. But some of our colleagues pleaded with me to stay and I decided to wait till we returned to Lagos. At our next meeting, I was expecting that the issue would come up but it didn’t. It was there and then that I left ARG”. 


“We started with an altruism agenda to rebuild and renew, but along the line, some interests took over what we were doing. This was after assuring the public that ARG is independent”. 


“At that point, I made up my mind to reconcile with the elders because I couldn’t continue to live with ARG’s deception. All that has happened in Yoruba land from 1999 to date is to supplant that idea of collegiate leadership in Yoruba land where leaders can take decision”. 


A tireless and committed fighter to any cause he believed in, Odumakin during his lifetime took on political heavyweights like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ayo Opadokun, the late Prince Tony Momoh, Prof. Itse Sagay, Governor Nasir El-Rufai and few days to his passage, he heavily criticised Pastor Tunde Bakare, for praising Asiwaju Tinubu and attacking Afenifere leader, Pa Adebanjo. 


Odumakin’s lying-in –state took place yesterday at the Police College, Ikeja. It is ironical that the same police who harassed, tortured and humiliated him for standing up and fighting for justice are today honouring him for sacrificing his life for a cause he strongly believed in. 


In his tribute, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos state governor and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said the late Odumakin “was a committed fighter for democracy, dedicated civil society activist, courageous and outspoken defender of whatever ideals and principles he believed in and a patriotic citizen in every sense of the word.” 


Also, in the words of Chief James Ibori, former Delta State Governor, “Odumakin was the kind of gadfly that any nation would need; indefatigable, ready to take a stand on issues, maintaining a credible constancy, instead of changing directions like a wind vane…He remained an activist till the bitter end.”


#YinkaOdumakin was a role model to all, he believe and fought for Restructuring of Nigeria and True Federalism I hope his dreams come to Reality Someday. A REAL YORUBA LEADER .....REST IN POWER

Posted by Obinna Parish Pascal on Friday, 23 April 2021

By Obinna Pascal Amajuoyi

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