By Sunday Ani
Tomorrow, the remains of late Yinka Odumakin, the immediate past national publicity Secretary of Afenifere, the apex Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, will be laid to rest. It would bring to an end a life of activism and selfless service to Nigeria and humanity. He came, he saw and he conquered.
Announcing the burial arrangement of Odumakin, his widow, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, also an activist said the body of her husband, will be laid to rest on Saturday, April 24.
“On Friday 23, his body departs Lagos for Moro, his country home, in Ife North Local Government Area of Osun.
“There will be a Christian wake keep by 5:00 pm at the Origbo Anglican Grammar School, Moro, which will be followed by a Candle light procession,” the widow had said.
She also announced there would be Lying in State at Origbo Anglican Grammar School, Moro by 8: 00 am on April 24, and to be followed by a funeral service by 10:00 am, after which his remains will be committed to Mother Earth at a private interment.
But as the fearless and vocal human rights activist, is laid to rest for onward journey to eternal glory, a big vacuum has been created. Nigerians, particularly the human rights community, will miss his activism.
A human rights activist par excellence, Odumakin who was until his death, the national publicity secretary of Afenifere, was readily available to comment on any national issues, particularly those that border on human rights abuse, restructuring, injustice, neglect of the poor, and bad governance among others.
A dogged fighter of injustice and human rights abuse of any coloration, Odumakin painfully succumbed to the cold hands of death at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos.
His confrontational stance against military dictatorship saw him in and out of detention at various times, particularly when the military held sway in governance.
During one of his sojourns in detention, he was said to have met the woman that eventually became his wife, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin. They met at Alagbon Prisons in Lagos, after she was transferred from Ilorin, Kwara State, following her involvement in pro-democracy campaigns.
As birds of a feather, which always flock together, their chemistry immediately synchronized and the rest was history, as the unusual meeting led to tying of the nuptial knot on November, 4 1997 between the two activists.
Like his peers, his early life started at St. Augustine Primary School, Ondo State, from where he proceeded to CAC Grammar School, Edunabon and Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, both in Osun State, for his secondary school education. His thirst for education saw him gaining admission into the Obafemi Awolowo University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Studies in 1989.
Odumakin was a strong member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which fought the government of Sani Abacha to a standstill after the annulment of the 1993 presidential election. He played a key role in the organisation, which insisted that Abacha must step down in favour of Moshood Abiola who was believed to have won the 1993 presidential election. Odumakin was known to have thrown his weight behind several agitations in support of the Yoruba.
He was one of the spokespersons of the Southern and Middle Belt Leader’s Forum (SMBLF).
Although he turned out to be a known critic of the current All Progressives Congress-led government under President Muhammadu Buhari, he was President Buhari’s spokesman when he contested the 2011 presidential election under the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
He participated in the 2014 National Conference, which came up with far-reaching recommendations on how to move the country forward. In fact, Odumakin and his wife were the only married couple among the 492-member 2014 National Conference which was held in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria
Amidst various political, social, economic and religious crises bedeviling the country, Odumakin, unarguably, was one Nigerian that gave so much of his life to aid the birthing of a transformative change in Nigeria.
Looking at what is happening today in Nigeria, where bandits are running riot all over the country, killing, maiming and destroying property, with no clear cut solution from the government, one could only imagine what Odumakin would have said were he to be alive. But, today he lies stone dead when the country he gave his all is being pillaged by murderous militia. Death, where is thy sting?
Born on December 10, 1966, in Moro, Ife North, Osun State, Odumakin’s sojourn on earth was short but eventful, having joined his ancestors on April 3, 2021, at a very young age of 54.
A man of many battles, he finally succumbed to complications from Coronavirus disease, at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) LASUTH). Adieu, champion of the oppressed. Adieu, the indefatigable human rights fighter. Rest in peace!