The activist we lost in Odumakin —Falana, Akintoye, Olawepo-Hashim 

As Nigerians grapple with the weekend shock exit of the national publicity secretary of pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Comrade Yinka Odumakin, more prominent Nigerians have continued to eulogise the outstanding human rights activist. 

Mr Femi Falana on Sunday detailed his fraternity journey with the late activist. In a moving elegy, the silk recalled the exploits of Odumakin in his sustained quest for a better Nigeria and his strong commitment to a united nation, anchored on power devolution from the centre to federating units despite the pressure on him from separatist groups to identify with them. 

He said, “Yinka Odumakin was an undergraduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University (1986-1989). He was a member of the Alliance of Progressive Students (ALPS). Based on his defence of students’ rights, Yinka was elected the Public Relations Officer of the students union (1987-88). 

That was the time that the Ibrahim Babangida military junta embarked on the deradicalisation of the universities in order to weaken the capacity of the Nigerian people to resist the imposition of the structural adjustment programme.” 

“During the 1988 convocation ceremony of the university, the late Vice Admiral Patrick Koshoni stood proxy for the visitor and military President, General Babangida.

The students staged a peaceful protest against the recolonization of the country by imperialism. For leading the protest, Yinka and seven of his colleagues were expelled from the university.

My principal, the late Comrade Alao Aka-Bashorun dispatched me to Ife to challenge the expulsion of the student activists at the Oyo State High Court. The trial judge quashed the expulsion and ordered the reinstatement of Yinka and his colleagues.

“When the Babangida junta annulled the results of the June 12 election won by the late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, Yinka was among the young men and women who mobilized the Nigerian people to terminate military rule in Nigeria. A few years later, I was surprised when Yinka informed me that he had decided to pursue the struggle for the emancipation of the Nigerian people along ethnic lines. Thereafter, he pitched his tent with Afenifere. Even though Yinka was the youngest member of the group, he was made the spokesman. In that capacity, he effectively publicised the activities of the body and defended its position on national issues.

“Before President Umaru Yar’Adua passed on in May 2010, a cabal of powermongers had staged a coup against the Constitution. Yinka became the secretary of the Save Nigeria Group, led by Pastor Tunde Bakare, which campaigned for the inauguration of Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan as acting president. “As a believer in national integration, Yinka married his comrade and girlfriend, Josephine Obiajulu, of the Igbo extraction. In spite of the pressure recently mounted on him by some separatist groups, Yinka remained committed to a united Nigeria, anchored on power devolution from the centre to the other federating units.”

Similarly, a renowned professor of History and member of the Second Republic Senate, Banji Akintoye, on Sunday expressed great shock and deep sorrow over the demise of Odumakin, describing it as untimely and a loss of a first asset by the entire Yoruba race. Akintoye said this in his reaction contained in a statement made available to newsmen by his media office, noting that the late activist, was a character who had access to virtually all the significant personalities in the Nigerian political firmament which he deployed for the good of Yoruba people. The elder statesman, who described the deceased as his son and his passing also a personal loss to him, said he was sure a lot of people knew that Odumakin was very close to him “in my first few years after my return from decades of sojourn in foreign lands.”

“I am sure that a lot of our people know that in my first few years after my return from decades of sojourn in foreign lands, Yinka Odumakin was a very close son to me.

“I often remarked to Yinka Odumakin that his skill in reaching virtually all significant personalities in Nigerian politics was a wonderful asset to the future of our Yoruba nation,” Akintoye said.

Also, former presidential candidate and global energy executive, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has paid glowing tributes to the late Odumakin, who he described as a man of extraordinary courage that stood by his words. In a statement personally signed by him, the businessman expressed his deep shock over the death of the Afenifere spokesman, saying Nigeria has lost one of the greatest.

“To say Nigeria has lost another great is to put it mildly. He was one of the greatest,” he said

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