A Canadian-based Nigerian legal lawyer, Ayokunle Odekunle, passed away on Friday after a battle with gastric cancer.
Odekunle, born in Nigeria but migrated to Canada, discovered the advanced stage of his cancer upon his arrival in Edmonton in 2020. Doctors discovered that the condition was untreatable.
Odekunle graduated from the University of Ibadan with a law degree in 2011 and became a member of the Nigerian bar in the following year. He further achieved bar admission in Alberta, Canada, last summer despite his health challenges.
The lawyer’s recent posts on X suggest that he was in his last days but many didn’t pay attention.
One of which he said, “Nobody is too young to die. Better enjoy every moment and live on your terms only.”
Nigerians mourn, donate to support Ayokunle Odekunle’s family
Notable Nigerians, including, Atiku Abubakar the PDP presidential candidate, former Vice President, and Ifeanyi Okowa, his running mate, have expressed condolences to the lawyer’s family.
“Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ayokunle Odekunle Esq, @oddy4real, a staunch and unwavering supporter of my political journey and ideals. Despite facing personal challenges, Ayokunle never faltered in his belief, and his resilience and tenacity as a supporter were truly remarkable. The news of his untimely demise due to cancer has left me profoundly disheartened. My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Halima, his parents, and the wonderful children he leaves behind. Their loss is immeasurable, and my thoughts are with them during this difficult time. May Almighty Allah comfort his family, forgive his sins and grant him AlJannah Firdaus. Ameen,” Atiku said in a statement on his X account.
In a statement released on his X account, Okowa also acknowledged Odekunle’s support for the PDP during his lifetime. He sympathised with his family and the PDP over the loss.
However, millions of naira have been donated to the family of the deceased. The donation is being coordinated by Japeth Omojuwa, a writer and political commentator.
More than $32,000 has been donated to a GoFundMe account created by Omojuwa at the time of this report.
Abubakar Saraki, the 13th President of Nigerian Senate also eulogized Odekunle, while also urging people to donate to support his legacy.
“In 2018, during my #GrowNigeria campaign, Ayo played a key role in helping to draw more young people to the campaign,” Saraki wrote on X.
“Over the years, even though he had relocated to Canada, Ayo’s commitment to good governance and justice in Nigeria, his love for his family, and his passion for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) resonated deeply with all who knew him.”
The former governor of Kwara State also saluted Odekunle’s spirit of service and engagement even when he was gravely ill.
“To honour his legacy and support his family during this challenging time, I ask everyone who can to contribute to the GoFundMe account set up in his memory. Your generosity can provide substantial relief and show your solidarity with Ayo’s family. I too will be doing the same through my foundation,” Saraki added.
“My deepest condolences go to Ayo’s beloved wife, Halimah, and their children. May they find solace in the warmth of memories, the support of loved ones, and the strength of the Almighty during this immensely difficult time.”
Doctor raises awareness about gastric cancer
A popular doctor on X, simply known as Dr. Olufunmilayo, raised awareness about gastric cancer as many Nigerians continue to mourn Odekunle.
He said gastric cancer is a medical term for cancer of the stomach.
Olufunmilayo said the symptoms of gastric cancer may not be clear in the early stage; however, the patient may have unexplained swelling in the tummy, persistent heartburn, persistent reflux, persistent vomiting, vomiting of blood, feeling tired all the time, severe loss of appetite, stools that look black, continuous burping a lot, persistent abdominal pain, persistent difficulty swallowing, food or drink getting stuck in the throat, significant unexplained weight loss, quickly feeling full after little food, and not feeling hungry when you should be.
He noted that the causes of gastric cancer are still unclear but smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, eating too many junk foods and fizzy drinks and being overweight might put one at risk of having gastric cancer.
“Treatment will depend on the stage at which it was found, detected, or diagnosed. If found early, the outcome is far better than if found late.
“Gastric cancer is a real serious medical condition that can lead to death if not diagnosed early,” Olufunmilayo said in a long thread on his X account.