Tributes: The irrepressible warrior goes home

When I saw a post concerning Comrade Yinka Odumakin’s death, I thought the poster was still carrying out the pranks of ‘April Fool’s Day’. So, I told him to back off as April Fool’s Day normally stops at 12 midnight on 1st April of every year. Out of sheer curiosity, and to fulfill all righteousness, I, however, called one of our soulmates in the human rights and pro-democracy world, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, who has been a life-long Yinka’s wife and heartthrob. I wanted to hear her deny the story and say it was false and fake. I yearned for her to burst out laughing with her accustomed baritone guffaw, saying Yinka was alive, hale and hearty. I just desired her to say it was a mere rumour, a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

But, alas! She confirmed Yinka’s passage, giving me eerie graphic details. I have not found my clarity of thought since then. I am devastated by Yinka’s untimely death.

Yinka spoke to me only last month. Yes, you guessed right, about the struggle, of course, the need not to tire or give up, the need to fight on like Trojans. We spoke about the pending South-West, Middle Belt and South-East case, which was instituted against President Muhammadu Buhari and his government over the nepotic, cronystic, lopsided, sectional and prebendalistic appointments he has so far made, to the consternation and marginalisation of other sections of the country.

Chief E. K. Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Dr Nnia Nwodo, Dr Pogu, et al., lead the plaintiffs in this regenerative and self-defining suit. I am one of the lead Counsels. We talked. We exchanged ideas on strategy; we discussed Nigeria. Yes, Nigeria’s challenges. State of nadir. Despondency. Anger. Hunger. Melancholy. Sorrow. Tears. Blood. Pains. Pangs. Nigeria’s pain. And, ofcourse, possible panacea. Solutions.

And this gadfly and searing pain in successive government’s flesh has gone? Just like that? This pearl? This gem of a pan-Nigerian? This Yoruba Nationality Crusader for self-identity and self-determination? This shiny 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 truckloads. Yinka was not just an activist per excellence, he was also an uncommon public affairs analyst, social critic, politician and political strategist, who shot from all cylinders on matters of national interest. He was fecund and cerebral. He walked the talk. He fought wars and battles. He won most.

Odumakin, with his accustomed ‘Awo cap’ ever-perched on his head, spoke truth to authority. He challenged power and impunity. 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.

This gladiator may have lost this war of mortality to Covid-19 complications, at LASUTH, Lagos. But he won the greater war of immortality because Yinka has conquered death. He scorned death, laughed at it derisively in the early hours of Holy Saturday when he transited. So, death, where is thy sting? Yinka was gentle as a person, as gentle as a lamb. But, he was a lion and tiger combined together, in wars against injustice, oppression and repression.

Mark Anthony (Julius Caesar Act 5, Scene 5, by William Shakespeare), summarises my grief, when he said: “his life was so gentle, and the elements mixed so well in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, This was a man”.

Yinka, rest in eternal peace in the Lord’s bossom. Don’t bother to kick and fight from the grave, as I know you would readily want to. Just rest in perfect peace, till we meet on resurrection day. Then, we will part no more. For those of us strugglers you left behind, including your irrepressible wife of an activist and comrade, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, we would continue the battle. It is a case of no retreat, no surrender.

 

Aluta continua, victoria acerta.

Good bye, Yinka. Fare thee well, compatriot.

 

Chief Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, Ph.D is a human right crusader.

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