From Okwe Obi, Abuja, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan and Sunday Ani
Pan–Arewa socio-political organisation, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), yesterday, condoled with the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, over the death of Yinka Odumakin.
Its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement yesterday, said Odumakin dedicated his life serving the country and advocating true federalism.
“Odumakin was a key figure in Afenifere, and the Forum recognises that he served it loyally, with commitment.
“On those few occasions when this Forum collaborated with Afenifere and other groups in pursuit of national goals, Odumakin stood out as a pivotal figure.
“The Forum condoles with his family and Afenifere. We pray that both will find comfort in his record of service and the life he lived.
“I often remarked to Odumakin that his skill in reaching virtually all significant personalities in Nigerian politics was a wonderful asset to the future of our Yoruba nation,” he said.
Similarly, renowned professor of History and Second Republic senator, Banji Akintoye, described Odumakin’s death as a loss of a first-class asset by the Yoruba race.
He made the disclosure in a statement made available to journalists by his media office, yesterday.
Akintoye described Odumakin as a son who was very close to him, especially, when he first arrived In Nigeria from his decades of professional sojourns in the United States of America (USA).
He said: “It is with great shock and deep sorrow that I have received the news of the untimely passing of my son, Odumakin. Let me say very expressly that Odumakin’s death is a personal loss to me. His death is a loss of a first class asset by the Yoruba nation.
“I am sure a lot of our people know that in my first few years after my return from decades of sojourn in foreign lands, Odumakin was a very close son to me.”
Reacting, Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, in a statement described Odumakin as a patriot, saying the news of his death came to him as a rude shock of monumental proportions.
“Odumakin’s death is not only a personal irreplaceable loss, but also a huge loss to the nation. Death, why did you do this to us at the most trying and difficult moments in our country?” he lamented.
Igini described Odumakin as an embodiment of commitment to the success of the Nigerian project, adding that he demonstrated it with integrity during the ‘Save Nigeria Project’ and the call for electoral reforms, where he exhibited how human agency could make or mar the destiny of a nation.
“We cannot question God, but the death of Odumakin is a painful reality. No words can sufficiently console us of his loss and the pains of his passing.
“My family joins his beloved wife, Joe Okei-Odumakin, his family and the entire nation in grief over the loss of a patriot,” he said.
The electoral umpire also described Odumakin as a man who never betrayed the values and principles of the common good, but one who demonstrated the courage of conviction to remain true to them.
“He did his best. He gave his all to have a society where there will be opportunity for all and responsibility from all. By his commitment to the enthronement of equity, fairness and justice to all, he engrafted enduring values of love and equity in the hearts of all. Odumakin will leave in our hearts for all times,” he said.
In the same vein, former presidential candidate and global energy executive, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, described Odumakin as a man of extraordinary courage that stood by his words.
In a statement, he expressed 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.
Olawepo-Hashim recalled that he met Yinka 33 years ago when the deceased was the public relations officer (PRO) of Obafemi Awolowo University Students Union and he, Hashim, was the PRO of the Students Federation, National Association of Nigerian Students.
“It was a testy period as we were engaged in a very intense struggle against the military government. Great Ife had invited me to speak on Alternative to SAP, the economic policy of the regime that we were campaigning against.
Yinka remained on the left of the left platform in the radical movement while I was to the centre of left. But like most of his comrades from Ife, such as Lanre Arogundade, Raskeey Ojikutu (Lagos), Adewale Bashar (Ibadan), we were allies in the struggles of the mid and late 1980s.
“Yinka was always passionate with his point of view. He made his debut into partisan politics when he emerged a spokesman for former military head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari during the 2011 elections.
“He was passionate with General Buhari’s cause when the general had very few friends in the South West. He probably displayed the same passion against the general when he changed his perspective. That was vintage Yinka.
Fortunately Yinka and I had mutual respect for ourselves despite our some time diametrically opposed perspective,” he said.