Tears, encomiums as Odumakin is buried

Tears flowed uncontrollably from family members and close associates of the late spokesperson of the Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Mr Yinka Odumakin as his remains were laid to rest in his country home in Mooro, Ife North Local Government Area of Osun State on Saturday. 

Wife of the deceased, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, wept repeatedly as her late husband was being lowered into the grave and those close to her at the occasion had a hectic time consoling her. 

The sight drew tears from sympathizers and other mourners present at the burial ceremony who wept profusely in mourning the departed civil rights activist whom they described as a heroic fighter of the hopeless. 

Venue of the funeral, Origbo Anglican Grammar School in Mooro, was packed with eminent personalities who paid their last respects to Odumakin. 

Earlier, close associates trooped out en mass to catch a glimpse of the late activist where he was laid in state. 

Dignitaries took turns to celebrate the life and times of Odumakin as they paid glowig tributes to him. 

Speaking at the event, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, said the deceased would forever remain in his heart. “While some have chosen to mourn your demise, the exalted throne of Oduduwa has opted to celebrate you my dear Peter Olayinka Odumakin,” he said. 

Represented by Sooko Kemade Olagbaju, the traditional ruler pointed out that, “in death, as in life, you remain an unforgettable national personality who is so dear to us. Attestation of this consists in the heavy outpouring of grief across the nation at your sudden departure.” 

“But for us in Ife kingdom, your birthplace and ancestral home, we will rather celebrate an icon graciously given to us by Olodumare. You are not dead because you cannot be dead in our hearts. 

“You were not only a worthy son of the house of Oduduwa. You worked tirelessly for Oduduwa. Your insightfully penetrative perspective on Yoruba cause is uncommon. 

“On one of your visits recently, I raised concern about your health. I suggested a prayer visit to the hallowed chamber of the spirits of our ancestors. You agreed. I was elated that indeed the end of your medical challenge was near. 

“But alas! Instead of praying for yourself and particularly the restoration of your health, you shocked me when you started praying for Yorubaland instead. 

“Emotion overwhelmed me as you stepped out of the spiritual cave. I felt like shredding your apparels. I almost bit you, even used my nails on your body, I wondered what manner of a man would cede his once in a lifetime chance with the spirits of our ancestors and Olodumare, owners of land, sea, air, space and heavens, to his race. 

“Our people across Oduduwa land cannot appreciate you enough. As a token from the House of Oduduwa, I have completed all prescribed protocol for the renaming of IfeMoro Road after you. It is now to be known officially as Olayinka Odumakin Boulevard. 

“Similarly, an ultra modern garden has been named in your honour in my privately owned Students Village in Obafemi Awolowo University where a dignified bronze bust will be unveiled in your eternal honour,” the Ooni said. 

In his own submission at the event, Osun State governor, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, said “without any doubt, his is certainly one death too many and it is such a trying time for us all. 

“However, we must not sorrow like those who do not have hope. We must find comfort in the truly phenomenal life he lived. 

“We should rejoice, knowing Odunmakin has left for a better place. He has left for us on this side of humanity a legacy of inspirational service, fierce loyalty to the Yoruba race and relentless contributions to the quest for a greater nation. 

“He did not live a wasted life. He was an illustrious son of Osun and a man of deep conviction who constantly fought for what is right, just, and equitable. He simply lived for the people. He was a phenomenal leader, who, without holding public office, impacted us in unique ways.” 

“Odunmakin’s trajectory through life – whether as an impressionable undergraduate activist in Ife, to life as a purposeful columnist, a fiery anti-dictatorship combatant, to Afenifere as a vociferous scribe, and his political involvement — reads like a profile in courage. 

“We are indeed grateful for his life. It is our fervent prayer that the good Lord grant his dearly-beloved family and all of us the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss.” 

Also speaking at the event, the Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, said it would be difficult to find out another person that would act as Odumakin did. 

“It is unfortunate that I am now giving tribute on the death of my grandson. But it is a necessity because of the work he has done for Yoruba, Nigeria and the world. He was a rare gem not for what he was known for. He was not the type that will be progressive in the morning and be another person in the afternoon. He was as constant as the Northern star. 

“Look at Yinka from his youthful days while in school fighting for his people. How many people can do that? He was an uncompromising Awoist. He was not today for Abacha, tomorrow for Babangida. Wherever you found him, he would be in the midst of the progressives. 

“He was fearless and courageous. Yinka lived a fulfilled life. He stood for truth at all time. No replacement for Yinka who can work relentlessly. We will consistently be with you. He has paid his dues. We pray for God to give us a replacement at this time when the country is burning. What he went through was not palatable. How many of you will do that? 

“Other Afenifere members should try and emulate him and cultivate his spirit of service. Join our elders to fight against imperialism, against Fulani imperialism. When Odumakin was alive, he was a born democrat. He called a spade a spade. 

“In Yorubaland, we are not secessionists. But we hate Fulanisation. Not secession, but government should restructure the country. We will continue to encourage the Igbohos, the Egbesu to cry out for people’s freedom until the country is restructured. 

“President Muhammadu Buhari is the number one enemy of the country. We worked for the unity of the country when he was in school. We want restructuring. Which Yoruba man or Igbo is raping Fulani women?” he asked. 

Also, Ekiti and Oyo States governors, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Seyi Makinde described the deceased as a committed fighter for the masses and charged the younger ones to stand by his principles always. 

According to Fayemi, Odumakin was a patriot who defended the defenceless people, spoke for the voiceless and one who always stood in unshaken principles. 

“He was my colleague in the pro-democracy movement. He worked assiduously for my coming to office in Ekiti State. He was a nationalist without question; never apologetic with Yoruba agenda. He was never a secessionist. This country needs to be freed from the evil merchants who want to draw it back. We should not succumb to the merchants of secession, don’t succumb to the merchants of segregation,” he said. 

Governor Makinde said it was not how long one lived that mattered, but how well spent one’s life was. 

“I am here to give honour to whom honour is due. I became an accidental politician and I joined the Afenifere. That was where I knew him well. He spoke truth to power. I want to say, when I look at all dignitaries here, they came because of what Yinka stood for. He stood for integrity, committed to people idea. 

“Though in life, committed ones may not have fortune or fame, but will light the path for others coming behind. The struggles for restructuring in this country will forever be a shinning star for a path for us until we get the type of country that we deserve. 

“We will continue. My brother, my friend, sun re o. To the family, God will give you the strength to carry on. Everybody can father a child but every father cannot be a good father,” he said. 

In his own tribute, the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Professor Eyitayo Ogunbodede, lauded Odumakin for his commitment to the growth of the university. 

“For those who are familiar with Yorubaland, such people will know that culturally, I am not supposed to be here, because the person whose funeral passage is being celebrated today is younger than I am. 

“Conversely, and with tradition of Great Ife, we usually celebrate achievements and accomplishments, no matter the age of the achiever. I, therefore, decided to be here to give honour to one of our vibrant alumni, Yinka Odumakin, who during his lifetime contributed physically, financially and with absolute commitment to the advancement of this University, both while he was a student and since graduation. 

“Time may not permit me to enumerate all that Yinka had done for his Alma Mater, but I am sure we have read quite a lot about him and I am glad it had all been positive accolades. 

“About three or four years ago, Yinka was instrumental in bringing a sitting governor from South/South to deliver a lecture during the Faculty Week of the Faculty of Arts. 

“He then single handedly made sure that the governor fulfilled his pledge of a substantial financial donation. Yinka did not only follow up on behalf of the university, he collected the money and personally travelled down to the university to hand over same, intact, to the then Dean of the Faculty. “Great Ifes are known to be academically sound, intelligently solid, behaviourally normal and fearless in nature. In fact, they are trained to dominate their environments. We, therefore, see Yinka Odumakin as a brand, a good example of versatility of OAU Alumni; and this was clearly demonstrated in the way he handled his beat as the spokesperson of Afenifere. Characteristic of a Great Ife, Yinka exhibited sound academic excellence which was smoothly blended with the fearlessness of roaring lion. 

“His death is not only tragic but a monumental loss to the human rights community, OAU, Nigeria and humanity in general. Yinka died at a very critical period when this country needed his wealth of experience to chart a new path for the overall advancement of the country. 

“A 1989, graduate of the Department of English Language, the institutional spirit that Yinka exhibited cannot fade away easily. He was a vibrant students’ Union leader and a staunch defender of Students’ rights. He was Public Relations Officer of the OAU Students Union 1987 to 1988. 

“He was at one time expelled from the University for leading a protest against the Babangida administration. We thank God that he was reinstated through the efforts of Mr Femi Falana (SAN) who was himself Public Relations Officer of the OAU Students’ Union and other notable individuals. 

“It is in this spirit that the university has decided to lift the partial suspension of Students’ Union activities, which was imposed when our student leaders started engaging in free-for-all fights that even resulted in the hospitalisation of some of the Union officers.” 

“The current time table will midwife the Union election and restoration of full Students’ Union activities before the end of the current session. The labours and legacies of Yinka Odumakin shall never be in vain,” he said. 

In his sermon at the programme, the founder of the Sword of the Spirit and president of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, said he was concerned about his spiritual life. 

The clergy man, who preached from the book of Luke 23: 39-43, described Odumakin as a man that fears God and charged all and sundry to fear God. Specifically, he charged politicians and those at the corridors of powers to fear God saying, “if they fear God, they will not corrupt and kill others. Politician that fears God will use people’s resources well. Remember the last day. Your account of stewardship will be given one day. 

“Man is a creator of time. Yinka died in his fifties. He used his life well to glorify life and contribute to humanity. Physical death is an exit from this world to the eternal world. Before death came calling, he called on his saviour. He called on Jesus at the most critical time of his life he was about to step out of time to eternity in the hospital. 

In her remark, Dr Okei-Odumakin thanked all the governors in the South-West for their efforts in reviving the life of his husband while on sick bed. 

She recalled how her husband was exhausted, collapsed and was in coma for two days before being he was later revived. 

She said despite his critical condition, her husband insisted he wanted to speak with Pa Adebanjo. 

“I thank Dr Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu, all governors of the South-West and beyond. I thank Ooni of Ife. I thank Pa Adebanjo who always called and mobilised resources to keep my husband alive. I thank all the press men and women as well as all who graced this occasion. 

“24 days ago,my husband was still speaking for Afenifere and the Yoruba people. My everlasting date, you are not dead. What you lived and died for, we will stand for it. We will continue to re-echo it to ensure true federalism. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has been great to us. 

“From dust we all came and from dust we shall return. You stood for Nigeria that should not be wasted. My soulmate, we met at Alagbon. We were imprisoned together many times. If I come back to life, you are the man I want to live my entire life with again,” she said.

 

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