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Yinka Odumakin: Exit of a dogged fighter, democrat

Encomium has continued to pour in for Yinka Odumakin, pro-democracy activist and national publicity secretary of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, who died Saturday reportedly from Covid-19 complications.

In recent decades, Odumakin had been in the forefront for agitations for good governance, enthronement and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.

Odumakin was one of Nigeria’s activists in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) who fought the military, including the dictatorial regime of maximum ruler, Sani Abacha.

Despite being imprisoned several times, along with several other activists, he was never deterred until the battle was won when the military eventually returned to the barracks in 1999.

He often spoke tenaciously for the rights of the Yoruba and the people of the South-West geo-political zone.

The late Afenifere spokesman, amongst other things, canvassed the ideas of restructuring, fiscal federalism, decentralised policing as solutions to the country’s socio-economic challenges.

He was also a staunch critic of the policies and programmes of the current administration of Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which he considered anti-people.

Until his death, he consistently condemned the activities of criminal Fulani herdsmen, who have been accused of farmland destruction, rape, killings and abductions in the South-West and other parts of Nigeria.

Odumakin was a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife, where he served as the public relations officer of the university’s students union and started his journalism career with the Punch Newspapers before he moved to The Guardian.

In 2011, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari who was then the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) appointed him as his campaign spokesman, though, both of them later fell- apart.

Odumakin, until his death, had actively remained in his struggle for equity, justice and fairness in the polity. Over the years, his critical intervention has been brought to bear on national discourse through his roles as Afenifere Publicity Secretary.

Since the news of his demise, Nigerians across the country have continued to extoll his virtues.

Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo in a visit to the new Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo Saturday at his home in Lekki, said the news of Odumaki’s death was shocking to him, adding that he would be missed for his struggle for good governance.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, described the late human rights and pro-democracy activist, as a great nationalist, passionate leader and champion of a true Nigeria that would work for every citizen.

Sanwo-Olu also stated that Odumakin stood firmly behind the attainment of constitutional democracy and fiscal federalism as the basis for sustainable development and lifting the masses out of poverty.

According to him,”It is with deep sense of sorrow but with a heart full of gratitude to God for a good life spent by the late Yinka Odumakin that I write to commiserate with the family, friends and associates of the late Yinka Odumakin.

“Odumakin was undoubtedly a great nationalist, passionate leader and champion of a true Nigeria that would work for every citizen.

“Odumakin as civil rights activist was selfless. He spent the greater part of his life in the service of humanity, particularly the emancipation of the Yoruba people, the development of the South West region in particular and the nation in general.”

The governor further said: “As spokesman for the Afenifere, Odumakin made his mark and became a reference point as major voice for the development of the country.

“On behalf of my family and the good people of Lagos State, I hereby express my heartfelt condolences to his immediate family, particularly his wife, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, the Afenifere and the entire Yoruba race over the loss of Yinka Odumakin.

“May God grant his departed soul eternal rest and grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss”.

Earlier, Adebanjo in a tweet described the demise of the Afenifere spokesman as too heavy to bear.

Also, Odua People’s Congress leader, Gani Adams, said his death was a huge loss and a big blow to the Yoruba nation, stressing that Yoruba had lost a gem and a dependable ally.

Minister of Interior and former Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola in a twitter message, described Odumakin as a dogged fighter for humanity, adding that he would be missed by all.

Afenifere Secretary-General, Basorun Sehinde Arogbofa, said the death was a big blow to him and the Yoruba people.

“It’s a terrible blow. A terrible blow to me as a person because we’ve been so intimate. He’s been my right-hand man in Afenifere management. It’s terrible. Yinka should not have gone at this time.

“It’s a terrible blow to Afenifere and Nigeria. We’ve lost a brilliant chap with intelligent and brilliant ideas. This is sad, very sad. What a pity. I pity his wife Joe,” Arogbofa said.

A former presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore equally expressed shock over his death; but added that death was a necessary end to all mankind.

Also reacting, The lawmaker who represented the Kogi West Senatorial District in the 8th National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye,in a tweet via his verified Twitter handle, said it was sad that good people often die while the tormentors live.

“Egbon Yinka as l fondly call you. So you are truly gone!!! We lost a great voice and true Odua. What an empty world we have here.

“So sad that good people die while their tormentors are still living. Good night egbon Yinka. Aluta continua… SDM”, he tweeted.

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